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The Official Newsletter of
August 25, 2002

Nature's Built-in Appetite Suppressant

by Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide 

"Ron Brown is a certified fitness trainer who doesn't have an inch of flab on his body. He'll tell you what you can do to become fit and trim too." 
Washington DC


"I CAN never stay on a diet because I get too hungry," said the overweight woman to me. She hoped the ongoing search for the latest appetite suppressant by the pharmaceutical industry would provide her with a solution. I responded that nature already provides our bodies with a built-in appetite suppressant, but, few people know how it works.

It is a common experience among people who undergo supervised fasts for extended periods on nothing but water that their appetite disappears, usually not returning until their fast is broken or until the faster's internal reserves are depleted. Why is this?

Nature provides a part of our brain with a glucostat, which monitors our blood glucose level. The glucostat senses when our blood glucose level dips, and it triggers a response to our bodies that makes us hungry. Thus, we usually eat a meal, and our glucose level is restored to normal.

But, what happens if we wait out our initial hunger and refuse to eat? Our bodies sense this and are forced to apply a different tactic in order to raise blood glucose levels. If fresh sources of glucose are not derived from enough food, our bodies begin a process to generate new sources of glucose by breaking down internal stores of fat and muscle. This process is known

as gluconeogenesis

During gluconeogenesis, body fat and muscle are broken down to release glucose into the blood and raise the blood glucose level. Thus the glucostat no longer senses a dip in blood glucose, and it no longer triggers a hunger response to our bodies. 

On a restricted diet, a constant blood glucose level is maintained from a combination of nutrients released internally from storage sites as well as from external sources of nutrients from food. Once the balance of nutrients derived from internal and external sources is set and remains constant,  hunger is reduced and becomes much more manageable. We only get as hungry as it takes to keep up our intake of external sources of nutrients. The internal supply of nutrients released from gluconeogenesis continues without triggering any additional hunger.

Did you ever get hungry, but waited so long to eat that you weren't hungry any more? That is an example of how your body starts up gluconeogenesis and reduces your hunger. Once your body makes this initial adjustment at the beginning of your reduced-calorie diet, the toughest part of your diet is over!

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