Leptin is a hormone produced by adipose tissues, i.e. fat cells that regulate energy intake and usage, which control the appetite, metabolism, and hunger. It is significant to understand why we feel full or hungry at various times. It uses the receptors in the part of the brain in the body that regulates the hormone system called the hypothalamus.
What Is Leptin & Can It Make You Fat?
Leptin binds to receptors in the hypothalamus and helps to control and suppress the appetite. Its presence in higher levels sends out signals to the brain that the stomach is full and can stop eating. But when it is low, the signals send out the distress of hunger and craving for food. Leptin disorders will cause uncontrollable appetite and food cravings.
The Leptin amount is directly correlated to the fat content in the body. Hence more the fat, more the amount of Leptin present. However, the body takes time to adjust to large body fat levels and hence to Leptin levels.
Leptin and Weight Loss
Leptin is the key to hunger and feeling full, a lot of research has been done to use it for weight reduction.
But when people were given Leptin in human trials, they did not lose weight. This contradiction happened because their bodies continuously tried to adjust the base Leptin levels. Leptin overload, like in overweight people causes the brain to lose sensitivity and become Leptin resistant. The Leptin resistance blocks the Leptin from crossing the blood-brain barrier and reaching the hypothalamus.
This resistance causes more and more Leptin to be required before the body starts feeling full.
Hence even when the Leptin levels are high, not enough Leptin can reach the brain to tell the body to stop eating.
Apart from excess weight, high sugar foods can also lead to Leptin resistance. Fat and obese people produce very high Leptin levels in their bodies but are not responsive and become resistant to it.
If one loses a lot of weight quickly, like through liposuction or extreme dieting, his Leptin levels reduce considerably. This produces hunger, along with thyroid output reduction and low metabolic rate drop.
As a result, the body will automatically increase the hormone activity and appetite, thereby countering the weight loss and the previous weight gets added right back again. This is the reason crash diets are ineffective, the Leptin does not allow for less eating, and even so one becomes lethargic and the metabolic rate slows down very quickly.
The Leptin levels do not proportionally increase very high after consuming lots of food but they do with increased insulin levels. Knowing this can help to eat healthier and reduce weight slowly.
How can Leptin help with Weight Loss?
- Leptin supplements
The over-the-counter weight loss Leptin pills do not contain the Leptin hormone but have ingredients like alpha-lipoic acid, fish oil, green tea extract, soluble fiber, or conjugated linoleic acid. They target to reduce inflammation, increase Leptin sensitivity, and thereby improve Leptin resistance and appetite. The effectiveness of these pills is still not proven.
Exercising regularly will improve the Leptin resistance and reduce the Leptin level.
- No more Crash Diets
Stop with the crash diets, losing weight too fast does not help.
Eat a low-calorie diet for a little while, which will cause the Leptin levels to reduce but also causes hunger and lower energy, even if the weight has not yet been lost. To lose this weight, give the body time to adjust to the reduced Leptin level so that it sets it as a new “normal” and one feels full.
- Avoid too much Sugar Intake
These sugars make the brain less sensitive to Leptin, which causes more hunger and hence more eating.
- Eat Omega-3 Foods
Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acid rich foods, like in fish, flaxseed, walnuts which are known to reduce blood levels of the hormone and decrease Leptin levels, by increasing the Leptin activity and sensitivity.
- Fiber-Rich Foods
Eating high-fiber content food like cereals, whole grains, dark-colored vegetables, potatoes, oats, chia seeds may improve Leptin resistance and sensitivity.
- Good Sleep
Sleeping regulates the Leptin levels naturally high and keeps the food cravings well under control. Less sleep signals the body to crave more food and feel hungry.
- Eat Small Portions
Eating small portions of food regularly during the day helps your body to use the food optimally and will not cause fat gain.