There are two big players when it comes to the drive to eat: as with all body signals there’s one hormone to turn it on and one to turn it off, and the balance of the two determine the overall outcome and whether you are eating, eating, eating and not stopping.

The hormone that turns the hunger signal on is called Ghrelin which is secreted within the stomach when it’s empty, sending a message to the brain to tell us to eat. It’s known as “The hunger hormone”.

Leptin is the hormone produced in the fat cells (adipose tissue) and travels to the brain telling us we have had enough to eat and can stop. In 1994, this hormone really hit the headlines when it was given to mice who then lost weight. There was much excitement as the “cure” for obesity might after all be a magic pill made from leptin. Sadly, but unsurprisingly it wasn’t quite as simple as that, and it turns out 95% of us make enough leptin and having extra as a supplement makes no difference. So, it was back to the drawing board.

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For weight loss the ideal balance is to have lower levels of ghrelin and higher levels of leptin. You don’t need to take a pill for this, it can be achieved with the right balance of nutrients. Of course, this principle is fundamental within my Colour Code System. If you eat the wrong balance of nutrients your hunger signals can become corrupted and you get signals to eat when you don’t need food and you effectively ignore your stop signals so that you are eating and overeating and feel that you cannot stop…even when full, sometimes painfully full! This is a really important concept to understand when it comes to changing how you think and feel about food because cravings can be a huge downfall and ‘willpower’ alone cannot keep them at bay.

The cause of obesity is this hormonal imbalance more than a calorific imbalance. This may sound shocking and controversial, especially if you have tried and failed to lose weight and ended up fatter than when you started, probably many years ago. Trust me on this, coming from someone who was clinically trained to believe that three meals a day and healthy snacks were what is required, and that if you are not losing weight you are just not trying, I can promise you that having read all of the research, and for my whole working life met numerous people who have struggled to lose weight whilst others have lost it almost effortlessly, hormone balance really is the solution. Finally!

This extensive daily remodelling of your body is determined by the quality of cells your body produces, which of course is dependent the food you eat and the water you drink. It’s very simple: When you eat high-quality food, your body has the raw materials with to create molecular building blocks and maintains a balance. When you eat low-quality food, the body only has substandard materials your body is forced to make compromises, and those trade-offs will at some point catch up with you and damage your health.

Increasing Growth Hormone production is a key benefit of my Placebo Diet. Some low-calorie diets actually lead to a decrease in muscle mass, which is why many people diet themselves down to a lighter body weight, but in doing so don’t realise that much of the weight lost is muscle not fat. The result is that when you go back to eating what you did pre-diet, not only do you regain the weight, you get fatter than you were before even though you are eating the same, because you have reduced your ability to burn fat.

Different nutrients slow down ghrelin release to varying degrees; carbohydrates and proteins restrict the production and release of ghrelin to a greater extent than fats. Again, this reinforces the point that it’s not just calories in and calories out – i.e. how much you eat, but the balance of nutrients and also when you eat that determine not just your weight, but also your health.