The processes that regulate human appetite and body-weight are complicated ones. But two important "hunger hormones" that are thought to play a large role in regulating your body's energy balance are leptin and ghrelin.

The first of these hormones, ghrelin, is your body's signal to your brain that it's time to eat, and it's at its highest before a meal. After you fuel up, it then lowers for the next 3-4 hours until it's time for your next chow-down.

Leptin, on the other hand, is your "satiety hormone," and it works to create feelings of fullness. It is secreted by your fat cells, and it is more of a long-term regulator of body weight—ghrelin, on the other hand, has a relatively immediate effect.

However, especially once a person starts dieting, both of these hormones can quickly veer out of whack. Our bodies weren't made for a world of omnipresent vending machines and plentiful Big Macs—they are optimized to protect us against starvation at all costs. So once someone loses around 5% of their body weight, their leptin levels will usually decrease and their ghrelin levels will skyrocket, which is why even the most determined dieters find it difficult to keep off lost weight.

In obese patients, an abundance of fat cells can also sometimes cause "leptin resistance," in which the brain gets desensitized to leptin's satiating effect. No matter how much food leptin-resistant patients consume, the message that they should be satisfied just doesn't get through; their brain still thinks they're starving, leading them to eat more, thus leading them to gain even more fat cells and further disrupt their body's natural signaling system.

Studies have also found that ghrelin and leptin levels affect a dieter's chance of regaining lost weight. Interestingly, it also seemed that while men seemed to be more sensitive to ghrelin's effects, women seemed more sensitive to leptin.

So what can you do to keep these formidable inner adversaries under control? For one thing, keep an eye on how much fat you eat; high-fat diets seem to be most likely to trigger increased ghrelin levels and problems in leptin signaling. Where you can, stick to complex carbohydrates and protein instead.

Sticking to regular mealtimes also helps lower ghrelin levels, and so does upping your exercise and avoiding sleep deprivation.

A fish oil supplement might also improve your body's regulatory processes, and 123Diet's Maintain capsules are specifically designed to help keep your cravings under control even after your initial weight loss. Our many success stories attest to the fact that keeping off even large amounts of weight is indeed possible, even when your body may be fighting tooth and nail against you.
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