Are you from those who mistakenly believe that weight loss is a matter of willpower and calories?
Well know that you are wrong, it is actually much more complicated! Indeed, research on obesity points more and more finger a hormone called leptin.
Did you know that being resistant to the effects of this hormone (so-called leptin resistance) is now considered to be the main driver of fat accumulation in humans (1).
What is Leptin?
● Leptin is a hormone that is produced by the fat cells of the body
● It is often called “satiety hormone”, or “starvation hormone”.
● The functioning of leptin prevent us from starving or overeating.
● Leptin is supposed to tell the brain that we have enough stored fat, that we do not need to eat, and that we can burn calories at a normal rate.
Its main role is the regulation of the number of calories we consume and burn, as well as the amount of fat we have on our body.
Leptin is supposed to tell the brain: “STOP, you’ve eaten enough”
End of How to reverse leptin resistance (part 1)
Let’s see how this leptin hormone works:
1. This hormone is produced by the fat cells of the body. Thus, the more fat you have, the more leptin you produce.
2. Leptin is carried by the blood into the brain, from which it sends a signal to the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls when and how much we eat.
3. Fat cells use leptin to communicate with the brain. For example, a significant amount of leptin communicates to the brain that we have a lot of stored fat, while low levels of leptin mean that fat stores are low, and that we are at risk of starvation.
In short, the main function of leptin is to send a signal to the brain to “tell” how much fat is stored in the fat cells of the body.
Leptin resistance may be the main biological abnormality of obesity
Obese people have a lot of fat in their fat cells.
Because fat cells produce leptin in proportion to their size, obese people also have very high levels of leptin. Given how leptin is supposed to work, these people should not eat, since their brains should know that they have large energy stocks. However, the problem in these people is a leptin signal malfunction: a lot of leptin floats around the cells, but the brain does not “see” it.
This condition is known as resistance to leptin, and is now considered the main biological abnormality of obesity.
When the brain does not receive the signal transmitted by leptin, it thinks, wrongly, that the body is hungry!
Thus, this dysfunction alters our physiology and behavior in order to regain the fat that the brain thinks we are lacking.
- Eat more: The brain thinks we need to eat more so we do not starve.
- Spend less energy: The brain thinks we need to save our energy, and so slow down our metabolism so we burn fewer calories at rest.
Eating more and spending less energy is not the cause of weight gain, it is simply the consequence of resistance to leptin, a hormonal defect.
In summary, obese individuals have high levels of leptin, but the leptin signal is not properly transmitted to the brain because of a condition known as leptin resistance. This resistance to leptin can cause hunger and reduce energy expenditure.
End of How to reverse leptin resistance (part 2)
Lose weight reduces leptin, so the brain tries to regain weight eventually.
Most “plans” do not perform well in the long run. Research shows that leptin may be the reason.
Indeed, weight loss reduces fat mass, which leads to a significant reduction in leptin levels, but the brain does not necessarily reverse its resistance to leptin.
When the leptin level decreases, this leads to hunger, increased appetite, reduced motivation to exercise and decreased calorie burn at rest. In short, nothing good for weight loss!
When the level of leptin goes down, the brain thinks it is hungry, and so initiates all sorts of powerful mechanisms to regain that lost body fat, mistakenly thinking it protects us from starvation.
Maybe the following will tell you something …
The majority of people on a diet will be familiar with this concept: at the beginning of a diet, weight loss is often easy, especially when motivation is high, but soon, hunger and cravings settle in, and motivation to play sports decreases.
End of How to reverse leptin resistance (part 3)
What are the causes of leptin resistance?
According to Dr. Guyenet, potential causes of leptin resistance include inflammation, elevated free fatty acids and high levels of leptin. These three factors are increased by obesity.
How to reverse leptin resistance.
First, do you suffer from leptin resistance?
If you have a lot of fat, especially in the belly area, then it is almost certain that you are resistant to leptin.
The most important for reversing leptin resistance is to reduce the inflammation induced by the diet. Here are some tips for doing this, but be aware that a licensed naturopath could make your job easier or even fun.
- Avoid processed foods: highly processed foods can compromise the integrity of the gut and cause inflammation.
- Eating Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber can help improve intestinal health, and protect against obesity
- Exercise: Physical activity can help reverse leptin resistance.
- Improve your sleep to sleep at least 8H per night: poor sleep could cause problems with leptin.
- Reduce your triglycerides: High triglyceride levels can prevent the transport of leptin in the blood and brain. The best way to reduce triglycerides is to reduce carbohydrate intake.
- Eating Protein: Consuming a lot of protein can lead to weight loss, especially because it improves the sensitivity to leptin.
In general, it is essential to strive to eat real unprocessed food, maintain good gut health, exercise, sleep well … in short, adopt a healthy lifestyle.
End of How to reverse leptin resistance (part 4)
Obesity is not caused by greed, laziness or lack of will.
There are strong biochemical forces at play, which are mainly attributable to changes in the environment, including the Western diet. This diet changes our biology in a way that changes our behavior.
Although the causes of obesity are complex and varied, resistance to leptin is the main reason why people gain weight and then have difficulty losing it.
Leptin is thus the “master hormone” of the regulation of body fat.
End of How to reverse leptin resistance (part 5)