Leptin is a naturally occurring hormone responsible for controlling appetite. The leptin hormone is released by fat cells (adipocytes) after which it travels through the bloodstream into the brain.
This hormone signals the hypothalamus, the small area in the base of the brain that controls hunger, that you have eaten enough and makes you feel full.
Leptin is the hormone that regulates hunger.
Even more interesting, Leptin stimulates metabolism and causes you to burn stored fat instead of muscles.
Researchers have found that this peptide, or small protein, is one of the body’s most powerful metabolism booster signals, sending a fast, strong message to the brain to burn calories.
Did You Know…
that it is often stated that leptin is the key to weight loss? Hence its name, which is derived from the Greek leptos, meaning “thin”. Leptin is also named “obesity hormone” or “fat hormone”
Decreased Leptin Levels
The problem is that if you lose weight quickly, your leptin levels will decrease. In addition, some people naturally have low levels of leptin so they don’t have this signal from stomach to the brain. This commonly results in overeating and weight gain.
Several studies demonstrate fasting or following a very-low-calorie diet lowers leptin levels. Research also shows that your leptin levels change more when your food intake decreases than when it increases.
Mice with type 1 diabetes treated with leptin alone or in conjunction with insulin did better (blood sugar did not fluctuate as much; cholesterol levels decreased; less body fat formed) than those treated with insulin alone, raising the prospect of a new treatment for diabetes.
If you are suffering from decreased leptin levels here’s how to increase them naturally.
Achieving this in a moderate, natural way is crucial in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. There are several things you can do to regulate leptin levels. Here are a few easy tips.
Tip 1: Nutrients
By adjusting your diet you can improve leptin levels. Cut back on refined, processed, and fast foods. Examples are; high-glycemic-index foods are starchy foods such as white bread, potatoes, white rice and sugars.
Eat more (relatively) low glycemic foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean meat, beans, and nuts. High fiber foods are good. Fish is also beneficial because it contains omega-3 fatty acids which enhance leptin sensitivity.
In general, increase your omega-3 consumption (grassfed meats, fish, chia seeds) and reduce your omega-6 intake (vegetable oils, grains, etc) to stimulate healthy leptin levels.
Tip 2: Rest and Sleep
Make sure to get sufficient rest and sleep. When you are rested leptin levels increase. In case of sleep deprivation your will get hungrier. Obviously, getting sufficient rest is always recommended. However, the effect of sleep deprivation on your leptin levels is disputed by the outcome of a recent study that shows that sleep deprivation was linked with higher levels of leptin.
Tip 3: Cheat your Diet
While on a diet eat a cheat meal once a week. Eat much calories. Don’t hold back. Because of this one day with a high caloric intake your body will release more leptin than it does usually. This way your body will be better able to adjust to the lowered leptin levels which are the result of the diet you are following (as leptin comes from fat cells). Consequently it will be able to do use it more efficiently.
Tip 4: Use a Natural, Leptin Enhancing Supplement
Leptin production in overweight people has been raised to abnormal levels and as a result they have developed leptin resistance which makes the hormone significantly less effective in reducing hunger.
The natural Irvingia gabonensis extract has demonstrated to stimulate leptin sensitivity, thereby aiding in restoring the leptin balance thus reducing appetite. It is claimed to be the only natural food source (we know of) that is able to enhance leptin sensitivity.
Irvingia gabonensis is a West African tree. Its fruit is similar to a mango, hence its other name; African Mango. The fruit has been part of African culinary tradition for centuries. The seeds are used to make medicine. Their high fiber content is thought to lower cholesterol. The fiber also stimulates cholesterol removal from the body.
According to WebMD:
Some research suggests that Irvingia gabonensis seeds might also affect fat cells, which might reduce fat cell growth and increase the breakdown of fats.
Did you know.. Irvingia gabonensis was recommended by Dr. Oz.
The best reviewed Irvingia gabonensis extract supplement on Amazon is NatureWise Garcinia Cambogia Extract.
But what about leptin resistance?
To make things more complicated, more leptin, aka increasing your leptin levels, does not always equal more weight loss….
Increased Leptin Levels
Obese people, due to their higher amount of stored fat cells, have increased leptin levels. The problem here is that their brain doesn’t receive the signal anymore.
Because leptin levels in obese people are already relatively high they don’t need to increase the leptin they already have. There is no need to raise these levels for these people in order to lose weight.
This has to do with a process called ‘leptin resistance.’” Leptin resistance is when enough leptin is produced or present but the body doesn’t respond to it properly. More specifically, the brain doesn’t get the message that leptin is supposed to deliver.
Leptin levels increase as people get fatter.
“In leptin resistance, your leptin is high, which means you’re fat, but your brain can’t see it. In other words, your brain is starved, while your body is obese.” says renowned dr. Robert Lustig
Ways to combat leptin resistance:
- Avoid, fructose, sugar, grains, and processed foods
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet of whole foods, and replace grain carbs with protein and healthy (animal) fats such as avocados, coconut oil, butter, nuts, and animal fats.
- A high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, is the, often touted, superfood: krill oil.
So you now you might wonder, does it make sense for me to take a supplement that helps increase my leptin levels? The crux here is to find out if you are leptin resistant.
How do I know if I am leptin resistant?
According to renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Jack Kruse you can be leptin resistant if you’re fat or skinny.
If you’re overweight by more than 30lbs, you probably have some degree of LR. If you’re underweight by 20 lbs, too. And in case you had an eating disorder you are likely to be LR too. Other indications are (nightly) cravings for carbs and being hungry all the time.
Dr. Kruse recommends to just look in the mirror. Other options, in case you are fit but not sure if you are LR, are blood tests such as the HS CRP (highly sensitive C-Reactive protein) and the reverse T3 tests.
3 Steps to restore leptin sensitivity
- This is a huge one, all experts will recommend this as the key to succesful weight loss. Start with following a low carb version of the paleo diet. Recommended books on the Paleolitic diet are The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf or The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.
- Replace common fat sources with extra virgin coconut oil. A highly popular, well-reviewed (5 out of 5 stars) brand on Amazon is Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
- Supplement your diet with taurine or Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) to help alleviate or prevent leptin resistance. Both of these supplements may help prevent leptin resistance. Other antioxidants may help with leptin resistance as well.
Here’s more info on how to choose the right weight loss pill for you.