Have you ever wondered why some people struggle with weight management or loss while others seem to have no issue at all?
Why can some people eat a few bites, feel full and stop eating while others continue to eat and just stop when their plate is empty and yet still feel hungry after they leave the table?
Your genes may be to blame!
There are a handful of genes that we all have that are responsible for our feeling of hunger and satiety (feeling of fullness). The difference is some people are born with certain variations of these genes which cause them to have a hard time getting that feeling of fullness to their brain to signal, "stop eating".
The LEPR, DRD2, and MC4R genes could be the culprit. These may just seems like letters to you, but these genes are a big part of why many people have a hard time losing or maintaining their weight.
People who have a certain variation in their LEPR gene produce leptin hormones that don't effectively bind to their receptor. Why is that bad? Leptin is the hormone that is responsible for your feeling of fullness. If leptin does not reach it's receptor, that means the communication to your brain letting it know you have eaten enough does not occur, therefore leaving constantly hungry.
If you have a particular gene variation in your DRD2 genes, this amplifies your reward pathway. This will cause your brain to tell you to keep eating, you are not full, keep giving me that "reward".
And finally the MC4R gene is closely associated with obesity and weight gain due to it's affect on satiety as well. People with a certain gene variation of the MC4R gene have an increased appetite and a tendency for snacking behaviors.
So, what can you do if you have any of these particular gene variations?
Be aware that this is a concern for you. You will need to approach each meal with the idea of getting enough nutrients, but stop when you have had enough. This is basically just being mindful when you are eating. Make sure you are paying attention to the amount you are eating. Try not to eat in front of the TV or while doing other activities that will take your mind away from the task at hand, this will help you tune into your hunger and satiety signals. Chew slowly and focus on the enjoyment of your food.
You may need to measure your food and keep a food journal initially to get a feel for the amount of food you truly need to stay healthy. Utilizing an app like Cronometer or MyFitnessPal (both have free versions) can be helpful with evaluating your current nutrient intake. This does not mean you need to do this forever, just for a week or two so that you can eyeball the amount of food to ensure you are meeting your nutrition needs. This will start to be a trigger that you have had enough food. You can stop eating now.
Include mostly low calorie/high fiber foods. This is volumetric eating. You will be able to eat a larger volume of food for a lower calorie cost. These are foods such as non-starchy vegetables that you can eat large amounts of and take a little longer to digest due to the fiber content. This will help induce that feeling of fullness. High calorie, low fiber food, which is typically processed foods, go through your system very quickly and will have you reaching for another cookie or bowl of chips immediately.
Focus on protein. Protein stimulates satiety or that feeling of fullness. Make sure you are eating at least 30 grams of protein ate each meal and if you eat a snack, make sure it includes a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat to promote satisfaction and increase satiety.
Try time restricted eating, also called intermittent fasting. This decreases your eating window during the day. Avoid eating late at night, try to stop eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed. Start with a fasting window of 12 hours. That means if you eat your last meal at 7pm, you would not eat again until at least 7 am the next day. Once you are successful doing this, try to extend your fasting window another hour or 2, this will help you more readily access your fat stores for energy.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep and ensure it is good quality sleep. With just one night of not sleeping well, studies have shown that people tend to eat more the next day and tend to gravitate towards more processed, high sugar foods. Lack of sleep increases your cravings. Having a good sleep schedule and getting adequate sleep can help eliminate some of those cravings and mindless eating events.
Being knowledgeable is the first step. These genes promote cravings, mindless snacking, or searching for food because of constant hunger which can all lead to overeating and weight gain. Having a plan will help you combat some of the mindless eating that can occur with these genes. Click here for a copy of How to Build a Healthy Meal.
If this sounds like you and you feel as if you may have some of these genes, I recommend sticking to the body fat loss or weight management meal plan found in the How to Build a Healthy meal eBook.
Interested in learning more about what your genes can tell you about your health & well being?