Many trainers promote diet and exercise as the way to lose weight but there are often other factors – like leptin resistance – in play. Now, while diet and exercise certainly play a huge role in your weight loss journey, there are many other factors that determine how your metabolism functions. Today I want to talk about one of those factors- leptin.
Leptin Resistance: Could This Be The Reason For Your Weight Problem?
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a hormone that recent research has shown to play a significant role in weight gain and weight loss. Leptin is produced by fat cells of the body. When released from the fat cells, leptin sends a signal to the hypothalamus in the brain. Leptin’s job (among other things) is to control energy expenditure and change food intake over a period of time. In other words, leptin tells your brain when you are hungry and need to eat, and when you are sated and do not need to eat because you have adequate supplies of energy. Higher levels of leptin let the body know that it can burn calories at a normal rate and does not need to eat more food because it has adequate fat stores. Lower levels of leptin let the body know that it has to eat more and burn less energy because it is starving.
Increased Levels of Leptin in the Brain
The heavier someone is, the higher the level of leptin because leptin is directly related to the percentage of body fat. So, when someone is overweight, they have high levels of leptin, but in some cases, this level of leptin is extremely high.
Now, knowing how leptin should work, it would make sense that someone who is obese would self-limit what they eat because high levels of leptin would communicate this to the hypothalamus. But many overweight individuals experience what is called leptin resistance. When this happens, the brain doesn’t respond to levels of leptin in the way that it should and so, fat cells continue to release leptin. Since the brain is not responding to this leptin, despite having adequate energy stores, it tells that person that they need to eat more because they do not have the necessary energy stores available. If you’ve ever heard about insulin resistance, it’s a similar concept.
So, as the brain keeps signaling for the body to eat, the individual eats more and more fat is stored. Additionally, the brain signals the body to slow down energy expenditure to reduce the number of calories being burned because it believes that it is starving. This increased eating and decreased energy expenditure contribute to further obesity and prevent weight loss.
Researchers have recently been looking into leptin resistance and obesity and believe that it is one of the main culprits in the failure of longterm weight loss – the inability to keep off weight that has been lost.
Are You Dealing With Leptin Resistance?
If you are dealing with leptin resistance or would like to find out if leptin resistance is the reason behind your weight loss struggle, I recommend beginning with complete metabolism labwork – testing that you can now get done at home!