Can't Lose Weight? Maybe You Have Leptin Resistance . . | figureFIT

Can't Lose Weight? Maybe You Have Leptin Resistance . .

Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that was first discovered in 1994 by Jeffery Friedman.  It is called the “hungry hormone,” and this particular hormone talks to your brain and tells your brain that all is well, you have plenty of fat stored, and you're not starving.  Like all hormones, leptin is a chemical messenger.  When it comes to leptin, the message leptin sends is “I’m full." Leptin is produced by fat cells, travels through the blood stream and then works in appetite centers of the brain, signaling feelings of fullness.  When leptin levels are low, you feel hungry and are motivated to seek out food.

People with leptin resistance are hungry all the time and usually overweight. It turns out that most people who are overweight or obese have dysfunctional leptin.  In fact, their fat cells make huge amounts of leptin.  But, since the leptin isn’t working properly, the massive amount made is still insufficient for suppressing appetite, leaving a person feeling hungry all the time.  In effect, even though leptin levels are high, since it doesn’t work properly, the body thinks leptin is low.  With leptin resistance, the brain isn’t getting the message that it is time to stop eating.  

The following are symptoms of leptin resistance.

  1. Do you feel hungry all the time?
  2. Do you have unexplained weight gain?
  3. Is your weight slowly creeping up over time?
  4. Do you have cravings for comfort foods, fast food or high calorie foods?
  5. Are you not hungry for breakfast or skip breakfast?
  6. Do you overeat?
  7. Do you have excess body fat?
  8. Do you have unusual eating patterns, or does your diet vary significantly from day to day?
  9. Does weight loss stall after losing only 5-10 pounds.
  10. Do you have insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or diabetes?
  11. Do you have arthritis, asthma, lupus or allergies?
  12. Do you have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol?
  13. Do you have poor sleep, disrupted sleep or short sleep?

If you answered “yes” 3 or more of these questions, there is a good chance you have leptin resistance.

Leptin resistance means that your brain thinks you are starving when the reality is just the opposite.  Dysfunctional leptin drives appetite and especially cravings for high calorie foods and junk foods.  The brain is doing anything it can to prevent starvation even if you are overweight. The cuircuitry has gone bad and it's time to fix it.

Leptin resistance also causes lower metabolism and can lead to a host of other hormone problems such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, low testosterone (in men), polycystic ovary syndrome, and thyroid problems.

How do you fix leptin resistance?

There are NO medications to correct leptin resistance yet, but there is a lot of natural ways to alleviate leptin resistance and help fix the situation. 

1. Eat a balanced diet.

Eating a balanced diet means eating equal (or roughly equal) percentages of the three major nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I recommend eating roughly one gram of protein for every pound you weigh, .45 grams per pound of fat, and the rest in carbohydrates.

2. Eat the right kind of carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

Simply eating a balanced diet is not enough. You can have a balanced diet eating unhealthy foods but that won’t fix your leptin. You should avoid processed carbohydrates, especially those high in sugar, gluten, and dairy and eat more healthy carbohydrates like tons of vegetables, fruits, healthy nuts and seeds. Eat low fat sources of proteins and only enjoy fatty cuts of meat once in a while. Eat healthy fats rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like fish, olives, avocados and nuts.

3. Eat foods high in antioxidants.

Foods high in antioxidants like fresh vegetables and fruits alleviate leptin resistance because they can reduce inflammation in the body.

4. Eat green vegetables before 10 AM.

Make eating vegetables in the morning a daily habit. Think of it as taking a vitamin supplement. You can add vegetables to your breakfast, have them as a morning snack or juice them in the morning or after your workout. 

5. Move your body.

Exercise has a very powerful healing effect and leptin resistance is no exception. When it comes to exercise for leptin resistance there are two rules you must follow. 1) Do it. 2) Keep at it. Consistency is a key to your success. I recommend planning to exercise into every day for one hour. Some days you will workout out for less and some days you may workout longer than one hour. The key is to keep your body healthy by moving it every single day. 

6. Drink plenty of water.

If you are dehydrated, you will be leptin resistant and you will have difficulty losing weight despite valiant efforts. The human body should drink .5 ounce of water for every pound you weigh - daily. Drinking cold water helps boost your metabolism in addition to helping leptin.

7. Get enough sleep.

Many people simply don’t get enough sleep. You should aim for getting six to eight hours of quality sleep every night. Good quality sleep is necessary for leptin to work properly. Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders have been linked to leptin resistance, increased appetite, lower metabolism, diabetes and a host of other ailments.

8. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish, calm inflammation and alleviate leptin resistance. Shoot for 1000-4000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily. A four ounce serving of salmon contains about 2000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. You can take supplements too, but make sure it is a high quality one.

9. Calm inflammation.

Having excess fat in the body is the most common source of inflammation. Fat cells make inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines which wreak havoc throughout the body. By reducing the amount of fat in your body, you will lower inflammation.