The “big four” hunger hormones that work in synergy with each other (and all the other hormones as well) are adiponectin, cholecystokinin (CCK), leptin and ghrelin. Similar to how the thyroid hormone controls metabolism, and insulin and cortisol are driven by stress, these hunger hormones affect appetite.
Although they are relative newcomers to the weight loss game, the hunger hormones can also be set straight by the right Smart Fats and some healthy lifestyle adjustments, like learning how to snooze to lose! By resetting your hunger hormones, you will effortlessly increase insulin sensitivity, stabilize blood sugar levels and preserve more lean muscle mass while you fast track weight loss.
Best of all, you are seriously in for a treat when you experience how to tame the hunger hormone monster. You see, the Smart Fats that are best known for the satiety factor are the monounsaturated (omega-9) foods and oils from olives, avocados, and macadamias, as well as a variety of other nuts, especially pine nuts. After consuming these tempting foods and delectable oils from which they are derived, you will feel so much fuller faster which keeps hunger at bay even longer. Since mouthwatering oils and fats are the real flavor carriers of food, Smart Fats really go a long way in elevating cooking into an art as well as science.
It is also worthwhile pointing out that the monounsaturated fats have been well recognized for their ability to lower heart disease risk more effectively than statin drugs—to the tune of 70 percent. This is documented in the landmark Lyon Diet Heart Study with over 600 individuals following the Mediterranean diet, which provides high amounts of the marvelous monos. The high monounsaturated Mediterranean diet has not only been shown to lower heart disease risk, but is also linked to a lower incidence of cancer as well as a longer life span.
Before You Go Nuts
Besides olives, avocados, macadamia nuts, pine nuts and their respective oils, there are a number of other nuts and seeds, which boast a high monounsaturated content and can satisfy hunger. These include cashews, peanuts (although technically a legume), almonds and pecans—all absolutely delicious when enjoyed in moderation and tossed in stir-frys, salads, trail mix and used as coatings. But, I have found in working with thousands of clients over the years that many individuals have a notoriously hard time digesting them (think gas and heartburn), unless the seeds and nuts are soaked, sprouted and/or fermented to deactivate enzyme inhibitors. And then there’s the issue of aflatoxins (a mold that can be carcinogenic) found in peanuts and peanut butter—as well as other foods.
However, the main concern I have with lots of nuts in the diet is the high arginine content. Arginine is an amino acid that protects the arteries, enabling them to become more pliable, and that’s a good thing. But, on the other hand, too much arginine in the diet—which is easy to achieve when you go overboard with nuts—can feed viral conditions. So I purposefully have gone easy on overly recommending lots of nuts and nut butters, although you will see a smattering of nutty suggestions in the Smart Eating section.
That being said, as far as I am concerned, the monounsaturated oils, in general, are really good news because they will not only stoke our metabolic fires but can also take the “heat” in cooking as well. Some of them have a higher than average smoke point—especially avocado and macadamia nut oils at approximately 400 degrees F which makes them ideal for frying!
Hunger Hormone # 1– Adiponectin
The hunger hormone Adiponectin is balanced by monounsaturated omega-rich foods and oils:
- Olives and Olive Oil
- Avocados and Avocado Oil
- Macadamias and Macadamia Nut Oil
Adiponectin is a real hormone game changer that you may not be very familiar with. It is a big player in firing up belly fat burn and is known as the body’s “fat burning torch.” THAT says it all. And believe it or not, this special super hormone that flips your body’s fat burning switch is already circulating in your bloodstream because it is made in your fat cells. And the more you have of it, the more fat you will burn for fuel, especially from the abdominal area. It’s no surprise then that low levels of adiponectin have been linked with higher levels of obesity and insulin resistance. To kick-start your levels of adiponectin, stoke those fat burning fires, and improve total health, let’s take an even closer look at the monounsaturated omegas which can boost your body’s levels. These magnificent monos can lower inflammation, lessen cellular damage, spike antioxidant absorption by 400 percent, and decrease your body fat (especially troublesome belly fat) while protecting your heart and liver.
The Incredible Olive
Probably the best known adiponectin boosters are two of the all-time great superfoods: olives and extra virgin olive oil. Olives are a real standout in and of themselves. They have been overshadowed by the delectable oil that they have provided since biblical days, but suffice it to say, they also pack a considerable health punch for modern day Americans because of their anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is considered by many to be the healthiest and tastiest oil in the world. The benefits of extra virgin olive oil are unrivaled, and research reveals more benefits nearly every day. After all, the Greeks, Turks, Italians, French and Spanish all have a diet that is at least 40 percent fat, most of it from omega-rich sources, yet these populations are slim and boast the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. Many of the health-promoting effects of the Mediterranean diet have been credited to the addition of a healthy dose of olive oil at every meal.
As a rich source of omega-9 fatty acids, olive oil is also known to have a number of positive effects throughout the body including lowering the risk of some cancers. In fact, the latest research suggests that adding a mere four tablespoons of olive oil a day to a Mediterranean diet slashes the risk of invasive breast cancer by a whopping 68 percent.
Olive oil also prevents flare-ups of certain autoimmune diseases, speeding cell regeneration and wound healing, aiding the body in eliminating microbial infections, as well as reducing inflammation. One of its primary ingredients, a substance known as oleocanthanal, has even been called an alternative to Ibuprofen.
Just keep in mind that not all olive oils are created equal and many have been cut with other less desirable oils like canola and soy. I try to look for oils that have been given the green light by research studies or have the California Olive Oil Council’s seal of approval. You can also test the purity of any olive oil by popping it into the fridge. If it doesn’t congeal, then chances are it has been cut by a less desirable polyunsaturated oil.
The Amazing Avocado
The fat in avocados and avocado oil is another source of adiponectin-nourishing monounsaturates. Among their other healthy perks, avocados possess the uncanny ability to fire up fat burning—to the tune of six pounds in two months. And, the monounsaturated fat content can hold you over for a good three hours!
Surprisingly high in potassium, a typical avocado contains 12 to 17 grams of fiber. With an incredibly high smoke point of 520 degrees F—the highest smoke point of any of the Smart Fats—avocado oil is ideal for searing, frying, and sautéing. In addition, it contains high levels of beta-sitosterol, which is a type of plant sterol that can lower cholesterol and is helpful in protecting prostate health.
Their rich carotenoid content makes them a food pharmacy for your skin, eyes and heart. As a potent antiinflammatory, this oil can also help prevent damage to arterial walls, which can lower the risk of heart disease due to plaque deposits. Less inflammation helps to keep blood pressure at optimal levels as well.
Avocado oil is also a great source of vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin has been shown to rev up your immune system, improve skin and eye health, as well as give your digestion a much-needed boost to remove toxins from the body.
Last but not least, this marvelous mono is filled with chlorophyll—a natural source of magnesium; one of the best substances to detoxify heavy metals like mercury and lead from the body. Chlorophyll molecules contain magnesium ions at their core, which have the ability to bind heavy metals and escort them out of the system.
Mad About Macadamia
Another source of hunger-inhibiting adiponectin are macadamia nuts and macadamia nut oil. They do double duty for your metabolism—as a source of omega-7 and as a hunger controller. This rich and buttery-smooth little gem is one of the most popular nuts around and my favorite snack for quick fuel.
The oil that comes from these nuts is pretty incredible. The fatty acid composition of macadamia nut oil makes it perfect to use in many recipes, especially high-heat cooking. This oil is nearly 80 percent monounsaturated with very little polyunsaturated content and even trumps olive oil—which contains anywhere from 70–75 percent monounsaturates.
Since macadamia nut oil has such an extremely high oleic acid content, it can be used to help balance your and omega-6 essential fatty acids are perfectly balanced which makes it an optimal cooking choice—it doesn’t become rancid like so many other Smart Fats used for high-heat cooking.
It also has a lot of essential fatty acid protective antioxidants to keep your body in radiant health, including tocotrienols. As we all know, antioxidants neutralize free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause a vast range of chronic diseases.
Some of the other health benefits of macadamia nut oil include the lowering of triglyceride levels, increased energy, improved digestion, enhanced bone health, stimulation of circulation and the optimization of immunity.
Smart Tips: Adiponectin
Do keep these takeaway tips in mind when trying to shore up your adiponectin.
1. Opt for the olives and olive oil. Olives come in many different varieties like the Spanish-style green olives, and Kalamatastyle olives. Greek-style black are my favorites and come devoid of the preservatives and additives in some of the others on the market.
They are a delightful addition to any salad, sauce, entrée or side and I love them on a gluten-free pizza.
Use extra virgin olive oil to dress up salads and for drizzling on cooked foods. It may not be the best oil for high heat cooking, but you just can’t beat it when it comes to salad dressing. Drizzle it on your salad and you’ll trigger the production of adiponectin to help keep you satisfied for up to four hours! One of my all-time favorites is a mixture of one part fresh lemon juice to two parts olive oil with lots of fresh garlic, parsley, and a dash of mustard powder and Celtic sea salt. Simply elegant!
2. Add back the avocado and avocado oil. I adore avocados in smoothies, as a buttery rich spread on sandwiches or crackers, cut up in cubes for salads, and as a dip like guacamole. The oil is handy for use on the grill especially when you need to brush veggies, chicken, fish or meat. It is simply the best for making food nice and crispy when cooking at higher temperatures.
3. Increase your dietary magnesium intake to maximize adiponectin. Eat more pumpkin seeds, almonds and green leafy veggies like escarole, romaine lettuce and kale. Consider taking a targeted magnesium supplement with the most highly absorbable forms of magnesium for assimilation and utilization. Always aim for a two-to-one ratio in favor of magnesium to calcium. I’m a big fan of Mag-Key and think you will be too as it contains the glycinate, taurinate, malate and orotate forms of magnesium for muscle, brain, and heart health.
4. Last but not least, you might consider engaging in a new approach, which is known as intermittent fasting. This combination of fasting and eating has been demonstrated to increase adiponectin levels big time. Take a look at my One-Day Miracle Juice Fast in The Fast Track Detox Diet for one of the healthiest fasts out there.
Boosting your levels of adiponectin may be the missing link to help you finally take control of your weight and get off the weight gain merry-go-round once and for all.
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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS
Visionary health expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, has always been a trendsetter. With millions of followers nationwide, she has the uncanny ability to pinpoint major health concerns and provide solutions years ahead of anybody else.
Highly respected as the grande dame of alternative health and award-winning author of 30 books, she single-handedly launched the weight loss/detox revolution in her New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan. A Connecticut College and Teachers College, Columbia University graduate, Dr. Ann Louise was recognized as one of the top ten nutritionists in the country by Self magazine and was the recipient of the American Medical Writers Association award for excellence. She has been a popular columnist for First magazine since 2003.