You may have read on our website that our programmes can help with reducing your body's natural leptin resistance. So what exactly is leptin, leptin resistance and how can we off-set its effects?
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a hormone that’s produced by your fat cells, and it helps to decrease appetite. It helps in sending signals to our brain to let it know that the body has enough energy reserves. This then reduces hunger and keeps us feeling essentially fuller & satisfied for longer. Leptin also plays a key role in your metabolism, as it rises and falls in line with how much energy we need throughout the day.
When our leptin levels are raised, we generally feel satisfied and therefore not needing extra food. This can help to reduce over-eating, and should help in regulating your weight, as you store more fat when over-eating. This could lead to increased levels of leptin, as more fat cells in the body leads to more leptin production. That sounds good though, right?
Well, not always. Higher leptin levels would normally mean less hunger and more food satisfaction, however this doesn’t always mean that people with excess weight have a reduced appetite – in fact, it’s quite common for people with a high BMI to experience more hunger. This happens when the signal that leptin sends to the brain doesn’t work properly, a condition which is known as leptin resistance.
The Role of Leptin Resistance
Leptin resistance isn’t fully understood yet by the scientific and nutritional community, but it is known that overweight and obese people are more resistant to the hormone, meaning it is highly likely to be a contributing factor to the inability to lose weight and control portion sizes / hunger levels. Inflammatory factors are also likely an important cause of leptin resistance.
Leptin resistance can lead to a downward cycle whereby you eat more because you’re resistant to leptin, which leads to more fat which produces more leptin which you become increasingly resistant to. If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area, then you are almost certainly leptin resistant.
But fear not, as there are things you can do to reduce your leptin resistance.
How Can I Reduce Leptin Resistance?
The key to reducing leptin resistance, enabling your body's ability to feel more satisfied and make it easier to lose weight is long-term lifestyle changes, which is what our programmes are all about. Short term, the medications used within our programmes help you with appetite suppression, hunger satiety and portion control.
As leptin resistance can cause increased hunger, it’s generally recommended that to stay fuller for longer, you should eat a diet rich in protein, soluble fibre, and unrefined carbohydrates. These foods all help to reduce your hunger levels, as they keep you fuller for longer and having a sense of satiety. They’re also generally fairly low in calorie content (compared with dairy, fats, and refined carbohydrates). Try to avoid highly processed foods, as studies have shown that these types of food may compromise the integrity of your gut and drive inflammation, increasing your leptin resistance. Reducing your carbohydrate intake will also help lower your triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides can prevent the transport of leptin from your blood to your brain, meaning it will reduce the effectiveness of leptin if your diet is higher in carbs.
Leptin levels are now known to be affected by sleep. Studies have shown that if you don’t get enough sleep (or good quality sleep), your leptin levels are more likely to decrease. Sleep deprivation can cause and contribute to many health issues, so it’s always important that you get a good night’s sleep. Many people with excess weight experience sleep apnoea, which can cause you to stop breathing during the night, and result in a poor quality of sleep and daytime fatigue. Check out our previous article on sleep and your weight to see how you can improve your sleep quality.
Another method of reducing leptin resistance is physical exercise. Physical exercise can reduce fat mass, reducing the over-production of leptin & thus reducing your body's leptin resistance. It also helps with reducing metabolites (e.g. triglycerides). Fuelling your body correctly with the right foods in combination with physical exercise can lead to a positive cycle of balancing leptin levels and reducing leptin resistance.
If you have any questions regarding leptin resistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.