It you're struggling to lose weight, then you’ll want to learn about leptin, an important molecule that’s likely responsible.
Leptin is a hormone secreted by your fat cells, with the main job of balancing body weight and energy. It does so in two ways: (1) by signaling to your brain when you should stop eating, and (2) by stimulating fatty tissue to burn off energy.
In theory, the more fat you have, the more leptin your body will release into the bloodstream — thereby cutting off your hunger and cranking up your metabolism.
But that’s only if leptin is functioning correctly. And unfortunately, the majority of people who are overweight have developed what’s called leptin resistance.
What is leptin resistance — and how does it happen?
If leptin levels remain high for a long period of time, the body can actually lose sensitivity to the hormone. The brain no longer responds to the helpful cues to quit eating or speed up metabolism.
That means it’s even more difficult to lose weight and maintain metabolism at a proper, healthy level. Those with leptin resistance also tend to pack on excessive belly fat, as well as experience increased inflammation — which can up the risk of a number of chronic illnesses including osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
Crash diets can also help to cause this condition. Often, people who want to lose weight make the mistake of reducing their caloric intake dramatically. But when you do so, the body enters starvation mode, and the lowered leptin levels tell the brain it needs food. From there, the expenditure of energy is greatly reduced and metabolic levels are lowered. In other words: the body begins hoarding fat.
That’s why fad diets rarely work — and actually tend to derail weight loss efforts.
Leptin resistance can also be caused by the consumption of processed foods, including:
- Foods excessively high in fat
- Foods high in sugar
- Refined carbohydrates
- High fructose corn syrup
How do you reverse resistance to leptin?
While there’s no magic bullet to restoring leptin sensitivity, research has shown that eating a wholesome diet is the best way to do so and lose weight over time.
Add healthy fats, lean sources of protein and fresh fruits and vegetable into your diet. Cut back on high fructose corn syrup, processed oils and other highly refined food and snacks.
At the same time, avoid dramatic reduction of the calories you intake — and never follow a very low-calorie diet for an extended period of time.
This method won’t lead to weight loss overnight, but it will result in consistent, reliable weight loss and a sustainable lifestyle.
Lastly, remember to keep your metabolism stimulated with regular exercise and get a good night’s sleep — studies have shown that less than eight hours of sleep is associated with lowered leptin levels.
The bottom line: A common sense combination of regular exercise and healthy, whole foods will help lead to correct leptin levels, and eventually, successful weight loss.
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