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Can't Seem to Lose Weight? This Could Be Why

Can't Seem to Lose Weight? This Could Be Why

Go ahead. Blame your hormones for your weight gain. Specifically, blame two appetite hormones we've talked about before: ghrelin, which says, "Time to eat," and leptin, which says, "Enough. You're full."

Ghrelin's a chatterbox. It mentions food to your brain about every half hour. When you're hungry or cutting calories, the messages get fast and furious. ("Feed me, feed me!") Eventually your brain caves and a box of cookies disappears. (Try this simple trick to control ghrelin.)

Leptin tries to counter ghrelin's pushiness with its own messages. ("Enough already. Stop eating.") But like certain political candidates, leptin's not a great communicator and is easily outtalked by your pleasure center. ("Zip it. I want more Girl Scout cookies.")

Unfortunately, cutting calories weakens leptin and strengthens ghrelin. Still, you'd think your brain would sort out the diet thing, buck up leptin, and get ghrelin to chill. Nope. New research has found that 10 weeks after you've started losing weight, leptin's still tame and ghrelin's the bully-in-chief. Worse: That's true one year later! These hormones like things the way they were.

If you've got lots of pounds to lose, consider stomach surgery. It gets your hormones behaving normally again. If you can't swing it or you're not a candidate, diet smart, not hard. That's our mantra in YOU: On a Diet. Eat the right foods (e.g., nuts) and your hormones feel satisfied. Eat the wrong foods (e.g., sweets) and they just want more. (Try these healthy snack ideas to stay slim.) So, eat foods that make you feel satisfyingly full! You know . . . fruit, veggies, 100 percent whole grains, fish, skinless poultry, eggs, beans, olives, dark chocolate. Eat those, and your hormones won't think dieting is that hard.

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