Leptin - The fat burning hormone- what is it and how does it work?

Leptin is possibly the most important hormone in the body when it comes to burning fat and controlling your metabolic rate, regulating energy levels and inhibiting hunger. It is also important for libido, fertility and immunity. Not only this but it largely determines whether you may end up with a number of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and weight gain, bone and joint problems and even effects your mood. In short, it's extremely important. Keep reading to understand more....

Leptin's role is long term regulation of energy balance (how many calories we eat and burn).

Leptin is secreted by the fat cells, the more fat you have or the more food you consume over your basal metabolic level, the more leptin your body will produce. This is the body's way of telling you that you have eaten enough, you have enough energy stores and your body will send a signal to inhibit hunger and increase the speed of your metabolism to burn fat.

Vice versa, the less fat you have, the less leptin you will produce and so your brain will make you feel hungry and signal to your body to slow down the speed of your metabolism and prevent you from burning away any more fat. This can be a real issue if you are trying to lose weight, we will discuss this further later on.

People who are overweight or obese will have a higher leptin count. This means the brain knows they have enough stored energy so they shouldn't be eating, right? However, the problem is the leptin signal isn't working. This condition is known as leptin resistance. It is now believed to be the main biological abnormality in human obesity.

So although you may be overweight your body doesn't recognise this, it thinks you are starving and so will change your physiology and behaviour in order to gain weight your body doesn't realise it has. You will feel the need to eat more and you will feel more lethargic to prevent you from burning as many calories.

There are three factors that may cause leptin resistance, these are:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Free fatty acids
  3. High leptin levels

There are several things you can do to prevent leptin resistance, these are:

  • Lower sugar intake- high blood triglycerides can affect the transportation of leptin from the blood to the brain.
  • Exercise- this can reduce leptin resistance.
  • Consume protein- this can improve leptin sensitivity.
  • Have a high fibre diet- this will help with gut health and fight obesity.
  • Avoid processed foods- this can cause inflammation.
  • Sleep- links have been made between poor sleep and leptin levels.

So..... What does this all mean and how can I lose weight if my leptin levels drop when deficating calories.

If you are looking to lose weight it is essential to be on a calorie deficit. But as you now know, over time your body will see this as a threat to your survival and make it as hard for you as it can. This is one of the reasons your progression can plateau and the amount of weight you lose slows down, you lose motivation and crave food.

To ensure your leptin levels don't drop too low it can be extremely beneficial to allow yourself a 'cheat' meal or a meal high in carbohydrates and fats once a week to spike your metabolism and flood your brain with the leptin hormone which in turn will stimulate your body to burn more fat.

Contact me now for more information and to find out how I can help you can master your leptin levels to create the physique and energy levels you desire.

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