When it comes to weight management, and losing body fat, most people focus on calories and exercise without realizing how influential hormones can be to your diet goals.
If there’s one hormone you should worry about if you’re on a diet, it’s definitely leptin.
What Leptin Does
Leptin is often referred to as the “weigth loss hormone”, because its primary functions are to influence how you manage energy. Leptin levels will directly influence your appetite, metabolism, and the rate you burn body fat.
How Leptin Works
Leptin is a hormone released from your fat cells. For healthy adults, with normal hormone production, the more body fat you have the more leptin will be produced. This tells your body to reduce hunger, raise metabolism, and continue burning calories normally.
This also works in the reverse. When your leptin levels are low your hunger will remain elevated, and your metabolism will stagnate causing you to burn calories inefficiently.
This is obviously incredibly powerful for anyone trying to lose weight.
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What Influences Leptin Levels
In an ideal situation, for anyone interested in trying to lose body fat, your leptin levels would remain high to help you lose weight at a very rapid pace.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a dial to control leptin and your hormone levels are heavily influenced by your behavior, eating habits, body fat and other factors out of your control like genetics.
Diet. Leptin is best described as a hunger hormone, telling your brain when to eat and when you’re full. When you start a calorie restrictive diet, your leptin levels will decrease and disrupts how you interpret feeling full and satisfied after eating.
Sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep has been linked to healthy and elevated leptin levels. Consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep has shown decreased leptin levels.
Fructose. High fructose diets, like found in many processed foods, can decrease your leptin sensitivity. It doesn’t lower leptin, but it does make it less effective.
Stress. When you’re under constant stress, it increases the production of the cortisol hormone. Cortisol can disrupt production and effectiveness of several hormones including leptin.
Related: Hormones that help you lose weight
Leptin And Fat Loss
Anyone who’s ever been on a calorie restrictive diet has experienced the frustration of diminished returns. You started a diet, lost weight in the early stages, only to find it increasingly difficult to lose more body fat.
Leptin is playing a large role in this cycle.
Everyone has a personal leptin threshold, based on genetics, that your brain expects to remain constant. When you start a calorie restrictive diet, this disrupts your leptin production.
After several weeks, your body will begin to try and raise your leptin levels back to the expected threshold. Your hunger will increase, and your metabolism, and calorie burn will slow significantly.
You may be tempted to buy a bottle of weight loss pills with the word “leptin” on it, but these supplements have proven ineffective. Leptin can’t be absorbed in pill form, because it’s a digestible protein.
This means any leptin you swallow will enter the digestive process and won’t make its way up to the brain.
How To Increase & Maintain Healthy Leptin Levels
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