How Does Leptin Affect Your Weight?

Winter is ending and summer is quickly approaching and a topic on the mind is the “summer bod”. It is always the biggest motivator for people starting to work out, changing diets, and making a number of attempts to lose weight and get that desired “beach bod”.

Why is it that every time we all try something new we feel stuck? The weight is not moving? Is it just me? Or how about this scenario, I lose the weight and gain it all back? I blame the yo-yo diets or maybe my lack of “strong will power” as a reason for my failures.

Oddly enough, it might be none of those things. Modern weight gain and obesity research has found a correlation with the hormone Leptin and the predicament many of ourselves find ourselves in!

What is Leptin & What does it do?

Leptin is a hormone that is produced by your body's fat cells (1). It is often referred to as the "starvation hormone." This hormone primarily targets the brain, in particular the hypothalamus area.

Leptins role is to alert your brain when you have enough fat stored. This hormone signals that you do not need to eat and you can burn calories at a normal rate (2). Fun fact: It also has many other functions related to fertility, immunity and brain function (3).

However, leptin's main role is long-term regulation of energy, including the number of calories you eat and expend, as well as how much fat you store in your body (4). The leptin system is designed to keep humans from starving or overeating.

Why is this important with your body weight?

The Leptin system works on what is referred to as a negative feedback loop. This negative feedback loop is the body’s own internal controller for maintaining functions like body temperature, pH, & hormone levels. This negative feedback loop keeps your levels at homeostasis, which is the state where your body operates best!

Leptin is produced by your body's fat cells. The more body fat a person carries, the more leptin they produce (7). Leptin is moved around the body through the bloodstream. When you eat for energy and your fat levels are high - the Leptin system will tell your brain, “we have enough fat stores, we should burn some calories”. The opposite occurs when you do not eat. When you eat less, your Leptin is low and tells your brain hold on and don’t burn calories. (5)

With that being said if someone is overweight or battling obesity wouldn’t the Leptin system say “we have enough fat cells it is time to burn energy”? Unfortunately this is where the term “Leptin resistance” comes into play. (6)

Leptin Resistance is where your brain actually does not see the fat cells. This means that it is telling your body, “we do not have enough stored yet, keep eating and keep storing.” This is a vicious cycle that once it is started will most likely continue until potentially a drastic change is made to bring the body back to homeostasis. (7)

For most people who struggle with leptin resistance, willing yourself to overcome the leptin-driven starvation signal is next to impossible.

With leptin resistance your brain is blinded by the natural response and it because dangerous because it tells your body two things

  1. Eating more to prevent starvation.

  2. Reduced energy expenditure to burn fewer calories at rest.

Eating more and exercising less is not the underlying cause of weight gain but rather a possible consequence of leptin resistance, a hormonal defect (8).

Can I reverse Leptin Resistance?

The good news is YES! There are steps you can take and foods you can eat, or not eat to reverse leptin resistance

1. Find out for sure. You can do this by running a blood test specifically requesting your Leptin Levels. This is not common in a blood test because there is no medication to treat leptin levels. If there were then it would be included in every test ;)

2. Clean up your sleep habits. Sleep plays a vital role in your body's metabolism and recovery. Put down the phone and DVR that show so you can get to sleep at a decent time

3. Eat / Supplement with lean protein. Eating turkey, chicken and lean protein shakes can help normalize metabolism.

4. Calm down your life. Stress in general has a lot of negative side effects. High stress level with its associated high cortisol can definitely increase inflammation and subsequently, trigger leptin receptor failure and increased production of leptin – just one more reason to bring some mindfulness and self-care into your life.

5. Get your omega-3s. A healthy intake of omega-3 fatty acids is one of the best ways to bring down inflammation and balance leptin levels. Omega+D3 has a higher bioavailability due to the triglyceride form of Omegas uses (being the most absorbable by the body).

6. Fight inflammation. Since inflammation is one of the main causative factors in leptin resistance, supplementing with both Extreme Endurance and Immune Boost will help with inflammation in the body. Extreme Endurance brings the body to a balanced pH level and helps decrease inflammation in the gut. Immune Boost is super packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants to not only build your immune system but to help fight free radical damage and inflammatories in the body.