We are starting our hormone series where I’m going to dive deep into our hormones and how they can keep you stuck in your weight loss.
Today, we are talking about leptin, and more specifically, leptin resistance.
Have you thought that when it comes to losing weight, calories in/calories is the magic formula that works?
That if you just cut your calories and exercise more, you’ll lose weight?
I did too.
Lately, I’ve been doing a ton of research on hormones and how they affect our weight and I even read a book about a little hormone called leptin, which if it isn’t working properly, can prevent you from losing weight.
What is leptin?
In the easiest terms, leptin is the “stop eating hormone” that is produced by the body’s fat cells.
It is often referred to as the “satiety hormone” or the “starvation hormone” and its main role is long-term regulation of energy balance, essentially the number of calories we eat & expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies.
Leptin stops hunger by sending a signal to the brain when your body’s energy needs have been met, and it also controls your energy expenditure over the long term.
Leptin is that overwhelming feeling of being full before you want to eat that second serving of pizza.
It’s produced by the body’s fat cells, and the more body fat you carry, the more leptin you produce. The fat cells use leptin to essentially tell the brain how much body fat they carry. When we have lots of leptin, we tell the brain that we have plenty of fat stored, while low levels of leptin tell the brain that fat stores are low and that we are at risk of starvation.
Leptin has evolved to keep us from starving or overeating, both of which would have made us less likely to survive in the natural environment…but these days leptin is def effective at keeping us from starving.
When leptin is working correctly, you have better, mental sharpness, brain function, metabolic performance, memory, coordination, and even a more regulated mood. #score
But when leptin isn’t working right, it can lead to obesity.
Leptin Is Supposed to Tell The Brain That We Don’t Need to Eat
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The main function of leptin is sending a signal to the brain, “telling” it how much fat is stored in the body’s fat cells.
Ok, so my leptin is messed up. How did this happen?
Chronic dieting can actually backfire on us (one of the reasons I created The Food Freedom Project…to help you ditch the diets).
According to Dave Asprey, creator of The Bulletproof Diet,
This is typically when we hit the dreaded plateau and feel STUCK.
If you continue to ignore the ‘stop eating’ signals, you can actually develop leptin resistance.
Leptin Resistance is also a predictive of insulin resistance, meaning that leptin plays a role in controlling insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. #yikes
What else can lead to leptin resistance? Eating high amounts of fructose, exposure to toxins or stressors.
This is a huge part of the reason why 95% of people who lose weight on diets end up gaining the weight back and are stuck in the yo-yo diet cycle!!
When leptin levels are reduced, this leads to increased appetite, hunger, reduced motivation to exercise and decreased the number of calories burned at rest.
Basically, the lower leptin levels make the brain think it’s starving… so it initiates all sorts of mechanisms to regain that lost body fat, thinking that it is protecting us from starvation.
If you’re a chronic dieter, you may be familiar with this… weight loss is often easy in the beginning (especially when your motivation is high), but then hunger, cravings and a reduced desire for exercise set in. #beentheredonethat
The GOOD NEWS (yes there is a light at the end of the tunnel!!): you can reset your leptin sensitivity!
Here’s how (if this seems super overwhelming, start with 1 thing on this list, make it a habit, and add another after a few weeks):
- Eliminate fructose and sugar from your die
- Consume healthy fats & protein in the morning to create building blocks for your hormones.
- Limit your carb intake during the day (here are some meal ideas)
- Eliminate refined or processed foods
- Eat an early dinner and allow 4-5 hours between food and sleep
- Make sure you’re consuming plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet from grass-fed meat, wild caught fish or high-quality oils such as Krill
- Consume healthy fats to reduce cravings (this post can help)
- Lower Omega 6 fatty acid consumption from grains, conventional meats, processed and vegetable oils. Stick with grass-fed meats and olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil (my faves).
- Get to bed by 10 pm each night and make sure you’re making sleep a priority
How will you know it’s actually working?
Your mood should improve as well as your sleep quality, and you should start to lose weight. Your energy should also start increasing—yay!
QUESTION: Do you think you’re leptin sensitive?
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Tony Robbins