Have you ever wondered why your weight loss regime is not helping you lose weight?
Our body has a “Stop eating!” hormone, known as leptin that is believed to play a significant role in weight gain and cravings. If you look for leptin supplements today, there are an overwhelming number of supplements available in the market (like the popular Biotrust Leptiburn or Leptinal). However, experts have varied opinions and research are both favourable and not so favourable. This makes the matter more complicated whether this is genuine or another marketing hype.
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a protein hormone made by the fat cells that helps regulate energy intake and expenditure including hunger and metabolism. Circulating in the blood, it reaches the brain and tells it that the body has sufficient energy stored in the fat cells to engage in normal processes and it can stop eating.
Leptin also helps regulate the rate of fat breakdown. The leptin levels are directly proportional to your metabolic rate. Low leptin level means slow metabolism, while high leptin level leads to higher metabolism. Interestingly every person has its own leptin threshold to indicate the level of body fat. Higher leptin levels are interpreted by the brain as excess fat stored, while levels below your threshold, are translated by the brain as depleting fat stores.
If your brain senses exhausting fat stores, it moves the body into the starvation mode and begins processes to improve leptin levels including cravings and hunger prangs.
How does it affect weight?
But why do obese people keep feeling hungry and gain weight when the leptin hormone level should have suggested the brain that it does not need to eat more? This is the obvious question that troubles our mind next?
The problem arises when the brain does not read the leptin signal, a condition known as Leptin resistance and being studied as a major reason for obesity. The leptin levels might be above the threshold, as a result of enough energy and fat storage, but there seems to be a gap between the leptin levels and the brain.
This leads the brain to initiate the starvation mode process and make the individual overeat and always feels hungry, resulting in obesity.
Making Leptin work for weight loss
While there are a number of reasons that impact your Leptin levels including high fructose consumption, stress, lack of sleep, high insulin levels and too much simple carb consumption, the condition is thankfully reversible.
People with obesity have higher levels of Leptin and mostly suffer from leptin resistance. Hence simply ingesting more leptin to your body by including supplements, injections or food rich in leptin will not prove beneficial.
The brain needs to be re-sensitized to hear the leptin levels and interpret it correctly. The ideal way to achieve this is to lower the leptin hormone levels with healthy food choices and exercising. Take a look at some tips to help improve leptin response and lose weight effectively.
- Cut down on refined and processed foods, sugars, fructose and carbohydrates. Reducing carbs, which are easily converted to energy, will ensure that you are using your fat stores rather than just carbs.
- Eat a protein rich breakfast to boost your metabolism.
- Do not eat after dinner or late night snacking. Give your liver and hormones a break and eat at least 4 hours before going to bed.
- Eat regular meals at regular intervals and avoid snacking.
- Sleep for a minimum eight hours to improve metabolism and re-sensitize the brain.
- Increase your Omega-3 intake to reduce inflammation and maintain healthy leptin levels.
- Make an exercise that is sustainable, keeping in mind the long term plan to lose weight and maintain it. Don’t go overboard with unrealistic goals and yo-yo dieting. Make an exercise routine and follow it religiously.
- If you feel that your metabolism has slowed down while you have been exercising regularly or have been deficit for too long, include a re-feed or a cheat day. Increase your carbohydrate intake and keep protein low and fat intake to a minimum. This will re-stimulate for metabolism and your leptin levels.
- Intermittent fasting and detoxification helps in improving metabolism and removing toxins from the body.
However, if you are leptin resistant, before you start exercising and changing your lifestyle, you should first consult a doctor and focus on healing you body.
Avoid over dosing leptin supplements to avoid the risk of developing leptin insensitivity. Brain can become less receptive to high leptin levels and cause harm to your long-term weight loss goals by making you feel hungrier. Leptin is quite possibly the most vital hormone that you probably have been ignoring in your journey to burn fat and lose weight. If your leptin levels are not regulated, you might not be able to achieve the leanness that your efforts are worth. Furthermore, your energy levels, mental alertness, and efficiency may suffer as well.
She is a lover of yoga and satire and has always been fascinated about nutrition and healthy living, but the real journey of research started after giving birth to two kids. She wanted to pass on good eating habits and balanced diet for their holistic growth, and started writing as a resource for others interested in the same.
Namrata currently lives in Bangalore.
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