Weight loss takes more than willpower, despite what people say.
If the weight won’t budge, no matter what you do, your hormones may be to blame.
Gastric sleeve surgery can help to regulate your gut hormones, making weight loss not only possible but nearly assured.
Bariatric surgeries like the gastric sleeve work in several ways to help you lose weight. There are physical changes and hormonal changes.
To understand how a gastric sleeve affects your gut hormones, it helps to understand which hormones are at play.
Which Hormones Affect Weight Gain/Loss?
The act of gaining or losing weight involves the same three factors. Energy in, energy out, and the way your body uses energy (your metabolism).
When you eat food, your body receives energy. Your body then uses that energy to operate. Your metabolism dictates how much of the energy you consume gets used. The leftover is stored as fat. At least that’s the way your metabolism is supposed to work.
When you suffer from obesity, your metabolism slows. You might feel extremely hungry even though you recently ate.
What makes it so frustrating is that you might try everything to lose weight. Struggling in the gym does little and depriving yourself of your favorite foods only makes you hangry. The weight, sadly, stays put.
This is not your fault. And it has nothing to do with willpower.
It’s all about your hormones.
How Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Affect Your Hormones?
Gastric sleeve surgery goes by a few different names. You may hear it referred to as the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) or the Laparoscopic Gastric Sleeve. The latter points to the technique used during the surgery. A laparoscopic camera and other serpentine-like tools allow the bariatric surgeon to work without too much cutting being involved.
Learning that gastric sleeve is performed laparoscopically is often a relief for patients. These minimally invasive surgeries require tiny incisions, come with low risks to your health, and require little downtime.
Most bariatric surgeries limit how much food your stomach can store, making you feel fuller faster during meals. In scientific circles, this limiting of food is known as a restriction. By making it so that you have no choice but to consume smaller amounts, the excess weight drops off more easily.
The gastric sleeve also works the same way. The surgeon will remove around 75% of your stomach tissue. The leftover tissue is fashioned into a pouch or sleeve, which is where food will pass on its way to digestion. A smaller stomach forces you to eat less and slower.
There is another mechanism in play with gastric sleeve surgery that helps you lose extreme amounts of weight.
You guessed it; your hormones have changed.
Ghrelin (Hunger Hormone)
Ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach, signals to your body that it needs energy. During a procedure like the laparoscopic gastric sleeve, the size of the stomach is reduced. Because ghrelin is produced in your stomach, your body’s ghrelin levels are drastically reduced. Your body may tell you to produce more ghrelin, but it won’t be able to because the digestive alterations made during your procedure make secretion impossible.
Ghrelin affects appetite, taste preferences, food perception, and chewing time. Without as much ghrelin, you may find yourself craving different types of food. You may crave healthier foods instead of sugary foods like before.
Leptin (Satiety Hormone)
Fat cells produce the hormone leptin. This hormone is responsible for feelings of fullness after eating. Leptin is the opposite of ghrelin. When ghrelin levels go up, leptin levels go down, and vice versa. The two hormones work in harmony to ensure your body receives adequate amounts of energy.
Satiety Hormone tells the hypothalamus in your brain when your body has enough fat storage and doesn’t need any more food. Leptin also helps to regulate long-term energy balances, which means it retains control over the number of calories we eat and burn, and the amount of fat we store.
Leptin is meant to keep you fed without starving or overeating. People with obesity tend to build up leptin resistance. That means the body could be producing the fullness hormone, yet the brain could fail to detect it. This can cause the brain to send more ghrelin to make you more hungry. No wonder you tend to overeat.
Gastric sleeve surgery can correct the hormone imbalance in your body, leading to less hunger, more fullness, and significant weight loss.
Gastric sleeve surgery can have a positive effect on insulin resistance. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. When your body lacks insulin or your insulin sensitivity is impaired, diabetes can result.
This means that after surgery you may find your blood sugar levels returning to normal. Many patients with type 2 diabetes find that their conditions go into remission, often permanently, post-gastric sleeve.
Obesity is related to infertility in both men and women. Not only is obesity related to ovulatory infertility, but can also cause abnormalities in reproductive hormones, and negatively affect egg quality, as well as endometrial receptivity. Obesity can also make technologies like IVF less effective.
In men, obesity is related to low testosterone, poor sperm count, and erectile dysfunction.
In both sexes, obesity can lead to reduced libido.
Bariatric surgery can improve male and female sexual and reproductive function. There is also evidence for improved birth outcomes after gastric sleeve surgery.
Benefits of Bariatric Surgery Hormonal Changes
After weight loss surgery, the hormonal changes that take place inside your body promote rapid weight loss in several different ways. First, you can more easily maintain or enhance the way your body expends energy (burns calories). Further, a gastric sleeve can increase the amount of energy your body burns in relation to your body size.
Once the weight begins coming off, additional changes begin taking place. These internal alterations help to reduce defects in fat metabolism. Your body will begin storing less fat. With the excess weight falling off, you will find yourself inspired to engage in more physical activity.
As a side note, higher amounts of exercise can reduce stress and boost your mood. This is excellent if you suffer from psychological barriers to weight loss such as emotional eating. This is yet another way how the hormones affected by gastric sleeve help you lose weight and keep it off for life.