February 7, 2017 – How the Body Regulates Appetite

Bariatric Support Group

Date: February 7, 2017

Facilitator:  Dr. Hassan Saradih, Prairie View Medicine

Dr. Saradih talked about how our body regulates appetite.  Your body views food as energy.  There is a monster hormone, ghrelin, that makes you feel hungry.  It is secreted by the stomach and tells you when you need to eat.  Then there are hormones secreted by your intestinal tract that make you feel satisfied.   These hormones send signals to your brain which tells you when to eat, and when to stop eating.

This system is extremely complex, and can be easily disrupted when you try to diet and lose weight.  Your body wants to try to prevent you from starving, so when you try to eat less, the body slows down your metabolism to try to preserve the energy it has.  When you diet and lose weight, the body tries to make you hungry and never feel satisfied so you will eat more and regain the weight.  This is why diet and exercise only work in the short term.  This desire to eat becomes too strong.  When we do surgery, we remove or bypass the Ghrelin monster hormone so you are now able to lose weight and keep it off.

When you diet and lose weight, your hunger increases, your sense of being satisfied decreases, your metabolism slows, and you begin to crave high calorie foods. 

Once you lose the weight after surgery, and your energy regulation system is working correctly, you will lose the cravings for unhealthy foods and crave the foods that are good for you.  This is why it is so important to make the lifestyle changes necessary as soon as you have surgery.  Begin eating healthy, begin moving and incorporate healthy habits into your life so you can get the weight off and keep it off.  It is easier to lose weight in the first 6 – 9 months than it will be later on.  While ghrelin does not return at the same level it was prior to surgery, it will return somewhat.  If you have already developed a healthy lifestyle and maintain that, you won’t have to worry.

If you are not losing weight as quickly as anticipated, that’s when you need to see a physician who can evaluate the medications you are on and get you off anything that has the side effect of weight gain.  Many of the antidepressants cause weight gain, and many of the medications for diabetes cause weight gain, as do beta blockers, anti-seizure medications, steroids and antihistamines used for sleep.  Then there are medications we can use to increase your metabolism and decrease hunger to assist with further weight loss.  The key is to do these things early while it is easier for your body to lose weight.