Mystery of Appetite Suppression

by Christine on September 16th, 2011

filed under Gastric Banding Surgery

As I was reading up on the whole process behind appetite, hunger levels, and appetite suppression, I kept coming across information about a hormone called Ghrelin. This is my own take on the information that I’m reading.

Ghrelin is a hormone produced by cells in the stomach and pancreas that stimulates hunger. Before you eat a meal, ghrelin levels rize, consequently signaling to your brain “Hey man! I’m hungry!”  To turn off the ghrelin, people typically eat food; if you eat enough food, ghrelin decreases and you’re less hungry.

Ghrelin is regulated by the hypothalamus, which we have no mental control over. No amount of “willpower” can change how the hypothalamus works.  However, the gastric band can actually work to control your hypothalamus!  When normal people eat, the foo consumed stretches the upper stomach as it works its way en route to the lower stomach. When this streching happens, the hypothalamus sends out a hormone (pro-opiomelanocortin), which suppresses ghrelin. If you don’t eat, the upper stomach isn’t stretched, so you’re hungry.

With gastric band patients, when you eat, your food remains in the upper stomach for a longer than normal period, keeping the upper stomach stretched out. Consequently gastric band patients feel full after just a few bites of food.  Smart patients will quit eating soon after that, or at least moderate the amount of food that they eat. (It is very easy to get used to the “full” feeling and start to ignore it.)

This is one reason why your doctor tells you not to drink when you’re eating food. Liquids will help wash that food out of your upper stomach, into your lower stomach, thereby reducing the amount of “stretch time” you’re getting. Consequently you’re more apt to feel hungry sooner after your meal.  I would think that foods that are more fiberous, that stay in the upper stomach (take a little more time to break down), may also help you feel fuller for longer.

Interestingly, there have been a lot of studies that show that mere surgery alone can have an effect on ghrelin levels. Gastric bypass patients have been known to show an actual drop in ghrelin levels following surgery, where as gastric banding patients experience a drop in hunger but not in actual ghrelin. With sleeve gastrectomy, the area of the stomach that produces ghrelin is removed.

Researchers apparently are working on some miracle anti-obesity vaccine right now that would prevent ghrelin from reaching the central nervous system, thereby helping to suppress the appetite and preventing weight gain. Preliminary studies are being done on rodents and pigs.


Met a Gastric Bypasser Yesterday…

by Christine on December 3rd, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Yesterday while I was getting my hair done, I met a woman that had the gastric bypass surgery. I never would have known that she had the surgery because she was so thin, fit, no sign of extra skin….she just looked normal and beautiful, you know? It was a pleasure to  meet her!  She told me that she had the surgery done 7 years before, and she lost all 125 pounds of her weight loss within nine months. SO FAST!  Since that period of time, she’s maintained her weight loss within a range of 7 pounds. Isn’t that remarkable?

I told her that I am very anxious about the “maintenance phase” of weight loss, so I wanted to know what her secret to success is. I especially wanted to know because gastric bypass patients have a really high statistic of gaining all their weight back. She told me that the secret is all in following the strict dietary guidelines set out for gastric bypass patients. She said that there’s no cheating, no re-teaching your body to process sugar, nothing. She strictly adheres to the diet, and therefore keeping the weight off hasn’t been a problem. She said she has met many people that re-teach their bodies to consume sugar again. She said she refuses to even go there, that the weight gain wouldn’t be worth the momentary taste of sugar.

This reminded me of Allan over at “Almost Gastric Bypass.” You all probably already know him, but he has lost 150 pounds so far just by following the gastric bypass diet alone; he has not actually had the surgery. 150 pounds is amazing, and I’m so proud of Allan for what he’s achieved so far on this journey of his!  I’m telling you…that diet works. There’s a lot of bloggers that are taking Allan up on his challenge to follow the diet to see where it gets them. What’s amazing is that it really works for the people that are willing to give it 100%.  I’m watching the results of the challenge, and the participants are losing 5 pounds a week on average, just like an actual gastric bypass patient would. It’s fast, drastic weight loss, and *gasp* it has less to do with the fact that the surgeons re-arrange your intestines than it does with making a huge dietary change. Part of me cringes though, because I know that 90% of those dieters are going to lose weight, feel great, then go back to eating sugar again. Then WHAMMO all that weight is just going to come right back on. Like the woman I met (let’s call her Julie for shits and giggles), like Julie told me, the secret to keeping the weight off is strictly adhering to your diet forevermore. You just can’t go back to the eating practices that got you fat in the first place.  If you do, you’ll gain all the weight back.

I know that gastric bypass surgery is fundamentally different from  the lap band surgery. In fact, one major reason why I chose the banding surgery is because I could still have sugar. I like my sugar, and I didn’t want to give up the periodic candy bars and more-than-periodic alcoholic beverage.  Hell no. I’m a sugar whore, and I know it. So far, the fact that the band has severely limited my portion sizes has worked for me. But part of me wonders if portion sizes are going to be enough for sustain long-term weight loss. I wonder if I’m going to need to, eventually, start eating like a bypass patient in order to really maintain my weight loss.  I know rationally that eating the same crappy, sugary foods that got me fat in the first place, even if the portion sizes are much smaller, is not the smartest plan. I know I need to do better with my eating, overall.

I’m telling you, there’s no greater feeling than losing all the weight you need to lose. You have so much more energy. People respect you more. You respect yourself more. You feel proud of your accomplishments. You feel pretty, probably for the first time in your whole life. You have confidence. You start taking on challenges that are bigger than anything else you’ve ever done. In so many ways, losing weight changes your whole life because it changes how you think about yourself and how other people perceives you. It’s kind of like getting to go through life with a 2nd chance, with a body double that still thinks like you but is hotter and cooler than your old, fat, dorky, self-depricating self. The new you GETS SHIT DONE. The new you takes life by the horns and makes that animal her bitch. Ya feel me?

I don’t want to give all that awesome shit up for a few Mr. Goodbars or a Snickers. It’s just not worth it. I think I need to mentally become more like a bypasser if I’m really going to make this a long-term change.

If you want to learn how to lose weight like a rockstar without the complication of a messy surgery, go check out Allan’s challenge. He’ll supply you with all the resources and information you need if you want to make weight loss a reality in your life.

(Interesting sidenote: “Julie” said that there’s an incredibly high number of gastric bypass patients that become alcoholics. I think she quoted a number of like 60% or more, although I personally can’t find any documentation to that affect. After doing a little quick research I’ve discovered this: the reason for the alcoholism is twofold. Firstly, for those that got obese because they were self-medicating with enormous portions of food: those people just replace food addiction with alcohol addition. Secondly, the surgery allows the alcohol to be absorbed in the intestines more quickly and easily, so you get drunk faster. For those people that are more physiologically susceptible to alcoholism (like, you a genetic predisposition for it), gastric bypass may increase your chances of being an alcoholic tenfold. There’s a little information about gastric bypass surgery and alcoholism here. )

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