You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about leptin. Some people are convinced that this hormone is the key to weight loss.
And there’s a good chance they are right!
Have you ever felt helpless about controlling your weight?
Have you ever felt that if you could just get control of your weight and lose fat then other issues in your life would fall into place?
It turns out your own body may be your worst enemy when it come to losing fat.
Twenty years ago researchers discovered that almost everything having to do with fat loss is controlled by one hormone.
That hormone is called leptin and your body may be producing more of it than you need.
Already you can start to understand why your weight may not be totally your own fault.
What is Leptin?
The name leptin is from the Greek word leptos which means thin.
Some people consider leptin to be the “satiety hormone.” That is, it tells your brain when you’ve eaten enough food.
Others look at it as the “starvation hormone” that lowers your metabolism when the body isn’t getting enough food.
Here’s what one prominent researcher told WebMD:
“Leptin is not our obesity hormone. Leptin is our starvation hormone,” says Robert H. Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco and a member of the Endocrine Society’s Obesity Task Force.
Leptin also seems to have a role to play in
- how well your thyroid functions
- how you handle stress
- heart health
It should be clear to you that understanding leptin and applying that information can pay big dividends in your health.
Leptin and You
Let’s talk about leptin and its role in controlling your weight and your ability to burn fat.
In the most simple terms, the higher the level of leptin in your body, the higher your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the easier it is for your body to burn fat.
On the other hand, as the level of leptin in your body drops, this causes your metabolism to slow down. A slower metabolism means that your body will start to store fat.
Leptin has been compared to the gas gauge in your car. When the gauge is low it’s telling you to fill the tank. And if you’re concerned about how far away the next gas station is, you’ll use all the tricks you know to get the best gas mileage possible.
Some researchers view this as the main role of leptin – to act as a starvation signal. When the levels of leptin drop too low this signals your body to store fat for survival during the “famine.”
It is interesting that women have leptin levels that are two times higher than men.
Also, the leptin levels in women are more responsive to dieting.
But, here’s the bad news: Your body interprets dieting as starvation.
When you diet, your body doesn’t know that there’s plenty of food in the kitchen and down the street at the grocery store.
Because you’ve cut back on the amount of food you’re eating, your body thinks there’s a famine.
Your leptin level drops and your body starts to store fat as efficiently as it can.
Your body is doing this so that you will survive and so that you will be there to care for the next generation.
Everything I’ve written up to now is about how your body uses leptin when things are working correctly.
However, it can happen that your body is not reacting correctly to the signals leptin is sending.
This is called “leptin resistance” and can be a real problem if you are overweight.
More about this problem later.
You Make Your Leptin
Many parts of your body naturally produce leptin.
However, the number one place in your body making it are the adipocytes of white adipose tissue, better known as your fat cells.
You might think that this is good news. Since higher leptin levels means you metabolism is higher, then having extra fat producing more of the hormone should be good.
Shortly after leptin was discovered researchers became very excited.
As they began to understand leptin’s control over metabolism it seemed like it could be used to fight obesity.
They thought that people carrying extra fat were overweight because they weren’t producing enough leptin.
However, researchers quickly discovered a dark truth.
It turns out, 99.9% of overweight people produce plenty of leptin. In fact, they produce too much.
When your body produces too much it causes a problem called “leptin resistance.”
It’s almost as if your brain stops receiving the message that your body is sending.
In fact, some researchers compare it to the problem of insulin resistance that happens with people who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
About the worst thing you can do to a person whose body is producing too much of something is to give them more of it.
Giving them more will not help their leptin resistance go away, it will only make it worse.
If you look closely at so-called “leptin supplements,” they don’t actually contain any of the hormone. They contain ingredients that are supposed to help your body use its existing leptin better.
You now know the power of this important hormone.
In the right amounts leptin controls how efficiently your body operates – how good your metabolism is.
But, there can be too much of a good thing. Too much and you risk “leptin resistance” and a losing battle to lose weight and keep it off.
It turns out that when you have this hormone under control you can eat the foods you crave and still have a slim and sexy waist.
You also need to know which so-called “healthy” foods to avoid. Because, some foods that everyone thinks are healthy can make if hard, if not impossible, for you to burn fat and lose weight.