Can you lose weight with serotonin?

The neurotransmitter serotonin has an influence on various bodily functions. It is known primarily for its mood-regulating effect, because of which it is also called the happiness hormone. In addition, serotonin is also involved in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, sexual behavior and appetite. However, the relationship between food intake and serotonin, weight gain or weight loss is complex and depends on the different receptor types to which the neurotransmitter can dock.

How is serotonin related to weight gain?

When serotonin release is inhibited by activation of certain receptor subtypes, there is an increase in appetite, which often leads to increased food intake. In fact, individuals who are overweight often have lower levels of serotonin in the brain. Food intake is probably an unconscious attempt to increase serotonin levels (and the associated pleasant-positive feeling). This effect is achieved more quickly by carbohydrate- and protein-rich food, because this leads to an increased release of insulin, which promotes the uptake of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is the basis for the formation of serotonin and must be present in sufficient quantities to increase serotonin levels.

Can you lose weight with serotonin?

Serotonin abnehmen

Some drugs increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain. A side effect of these so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is loss of appetite, which has to do with binding to certain other receptor subtypes. As a result, serotoninhas an appetite-suppressing effect that could be exploited in weight loss. The amino acid tryptophan, as a direct precursor of serotonin, is crucial here.

Tryptophan has several properties that positively support weight loss: First, it can increase the feeling of satiety, which automatically leads us to eat less [1]. In addition, tryptophan appears to inhibit calorie absorption from carbohydrates, which not only improves blood glucose levels but also supports weight loss, as studies have shown [2].

Serotonin Gewichtsabnahme

Those who want to lose weight with serotonin should focus on foods that contain a lot of tryptophan, which the body needs to produce serotonin. These include, above all, soybeans, cashews, sunflower seeds, as well as certain types of cheese (especially Emmental), tuna, poultry or veal.

Alternatively, tryptophan is also available as a dietary supplement that can be taken regularly in precise doses to stimulate serotonin production and maintain serotonin levels at a certain level.

Conclusion on losing weight with serotonin

Serotonin is involved in the regulation of appetite and thus eating behavior. The connections are complex and depend on which receptors the neurotransmitter binds to. Due to its appetite-suppressing effect, tryptophan (the precursor of serotonin) can support weight loss. It is found in many foods, but is also available as a dietary supplement.

Sources

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1384305/
[ 2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9705024/