What's Causing Your Junk Food Cravings?

What's Causing Your Junk Food Cravings?

Often times, we hear someone say, “I try so hard to lose weight, but it just doesn’t seem to come off.” We can go on diets, pick up the exercise and still not lose the weight. Worse yet, even though we eat healthy overall, we still find ourselves craving junk food. And these cravings usually come on pretty strong late at night.

Although some people believe that hormone excuses are just bad excuses, the reality is that many overweight individuals have a hormone issue that affects their weight loss goals. This hormone is called leptin.

What is leptin?

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells and it regulates satiety levels. What this basically means is that leptin determines whether you actually feel full and satisfied from what you eat. When the levels of leptin get out of balance, your body actually thinks it’s in starvation mode.

The brain then sends signals out stating that you are hungry and need to eat something quickly. Since it thinks it needs fat, salt, and sugar right now, you will probably start craving junk food. These foods are targeted because they are quick forms of energy for the body. Your brain may think you’re starving even if you’ve just eaten.

What happens in the body?

People with excess fat actually do produce excess levels of leptin. Common sense dictates that this should mean that people with excess fat should be less hungry all the time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.

Scientists are finding that an increased amount of sugars – especially the processed kind – are at the root of this issue. Here’s the process:

  • Too much sugar ends up adding fat cells to the body
  • With the addition of fat cells, the body produces more leptin.
  • The brain, overwhelmed with the leptin levels, stops responding to the increase of hormones
  • The resistance of leptin leads the brain to start thinking the body is starving and sends signals that you must eat now.

Science also shows us that leptin resistance and insulin resistance are linked, although at this time they are not exactly sure how.

An imbalance of leptin levels also explains why crash diets or fad diets don’t work for some people. Since the body already thinks it’s in starvation mode, a crash diet for someone with leptin resistance is doomed to fail already.

What can you do?

There has been no pill or hormone found that regulates leptin levels safely. At this time, there are several research studies going on, but whether they will produce any kind of magical cure is unknown.

If you have leptin resistance, the best thing you can do is to cut out all processed sugars in the hopes of forcing your body to properly regulate your insulin and leptin levels. It is recommended that you add small levels of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates first thing in the morning in order to naturally increase your level of satiety. And – you should cut out all snacking. Leave at least four hours in between meals to force your body to reset itself.