Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that you could do to to help lose weight that entailed eating the most anti-diet foods you can think of? I’m talking about pancakes with syrup, McDonald’s apple pies, cinnamon rolls, and all sorts of other things that you’d think would kill your weight loss dead in it’s tracks. Ever heard of leptin and how it helps you lose fat?
Leptin is a powerful hormone (are there any other kind?) who’s primary function is to to suppress your appetite and increase the amount of energy you burn. I’m sure you’re looking through your medicine cabinet right now, trying to find a bottle of the stuff. It sounds like a magic bullet. Unfortunately, there are no leptin supplements available at your local health food store., otherwise you’d probably be battling me in line for the last bottle.
How Does Leptin Help Me Lose Fat?
Your body’s leptin level has a direct correlation to your metabolic activity, which in turn is a great indicator of how much energy you’re burning. Perhaps more importantly, leptin’s appetite regulation function actually goes a long way to determining how hungry you feel and whose what foods you crave. Even better, the cravings it affects are precisely the ones that can sabotage your diet, those diabolical carb cravings.
Your appetite rises and falls inversely to leptin levels. When leptin levels are low, you’re hungry, and vice versa. The question is what makes them rise and fall? If you can control them, to an extent you can control your appetite, and more importantly, your quest for carbs.
How Can I Make Leptin Levels Rise – The Leptin Paradox
Paradoxically, what you must do to increase leptin levels is to eat the very carbs that you want to avoid, and the ones that you tend to eat when leptin levels fall too low. That’s the basis behind rthe plethora of diets today that espouse having a “junk day” or equivalent. That resets your leptin levels, and causes them to rise, where they stay for 4 – 6 days.
To keep them from falling to levels that presage an appetite increase and a metabolic decrease again, simply spend one day eating the junk we love to, well, love. This can be such niceties as oatmeal cookies, blueberry pancakes, and pineapple upside down cake (yes, it’s true). The key is to restrict yourself to doing it only once a week or so.
Eating more fiber can also help to increase your leptin levels, because one of the signals your body uses to stimulate leptin production is feeling full. Fiber consumption makes you feel fuller while ingesting fewer calories. The full feeling triggers more leptin production, further helping to curb your appetite.
Why Shouldn’t I Just Max Out Leptin Levels All the Time?
It seems there is always the bad with the good. Leptin is a Cytokine; a protein that affects cellular interaction. There are both pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Leptin happens to be of the pro-inflammatory variety. That’s why you just can’t shoot for the moon all the time with regards to leptin levels.
Can I Make My Body Respond to Leptin Better?
That’s a great question. Can you simply make your body respond to lower levels than it does now? That way you can keep levels lower and not worry about the inflammatory properties of the hormone, but still benefit from it’s ability to keep your energy burn high, and appetite low.
A recent University of Florida study discovered that excessive fructose consumption may cause leptin resistance to rise. Gator researchers noted that study participants (lab rats) who ate a 60% fructose diet were leptin significantly more resistant to the hormone at the end of 6 months. Rats on a fructose free diet exhibited no such resistance.
Does this mean you should avoid eating any fructose? No, the researchers didn’t recommend you go that far. However, the findings do point to another reason that excessive consumption of a sweetener that is omnipresent in North America diets could be making us all fat.
Another interesting UofF study discovery was that rats who were fed the high fructose diet and then switched to a high fat diet demonstrated a propensity to eat more and gain more weight than the rats that had the fructose free diet, and then switched to the high fat diet.
Another powerful way to boost leptin response in your body is to make sure your diet is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. When you gain too much weight, your body releases strong inflammation fighting substances. These help block leptin reception in the brain, making it so they need ever increasing levels to help suppress appetite. The Omega-3s are antinflammatories that reduce your body’s inflamation fighting response, helping leptin decrease appetite response in the brain.
How Important is Leptin for Fat Loss? What the Eggheads Say…..
Eric Ravussin, PhD, Professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, put it this way: “The discovery of leptin in 1994 was a major scientific breakthrough that revolutionized our understanding of the neurohormonal basis of obesity,”
To me, that sounds like it’s pretty damn important! The good prof has spent a nice chunk of his time as president of The Obesity Society, which lends even more credence to his opinion.
Another study, this one done across the pond at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital adds more evidence to the those who support leptin as a powerful weapon in the fat loss game. The Cambridge study found that patients with a rare disorder that eliminates leptin were morbidly obese, because they ate constantly, even foods that they didn’t really like. After being put on leptin supplementation therapy, they lost much of their food cravings and more importantly, lost weight.
Up in the Pacific Northwest, researcher Michael Cowley at the Division of Neuroscience at Oregon Health and Science University stated: “We become obese, because we really like hamburgers or can’t stop eating doughnuts. We become obese, because we obsess about food,” and further that “This study shows that craving is modifiable by leptin”
Boosting leptin levels is a great way to work with your body to help lose fat. Like so many things in life, success is more about working smart than working hard, although both surely never hurt. If you’re having success with losing weight by keeping your leptin levels up, drop me a line and let me know how much better you’re doing since you started paying attention to leptin.