Leptin is a hormone that helps manage appetite. The word leptin comes from the Greek word Leptos (meaning thin). It is produced by the fat cells in your body and works by telling your brain how much you have in your fat reserves. Leptin controls your metabolism, hunger, and energy expenditure.
Leptin and its Role in Weight Loss
If your leptin system is working properly, brain function improves as well as mental sharpness and this may lead to better memory and enhanced mood. When you gain weight, your leptin system can become confused and you develop a resistance to leptin. Overweight people have large amounts of leptin, but their brains are not getting the signal to stop eating. This can result in weight gain that is difficult to lose.
It is important to maintain healthy leptin levels to stay lean, think clearly, and maintain a good mood. Leptin levels need to be maintained through proper diet. If you are constantly putting yourself into a calorie deficit, you will lower your leptin levels and slow your metabolic rate. This slowing down of your metabolism is what makes it difficult to lose body fat.
To confuse you a little bit more, too much leptin can be detrimental as well. If you are always eating above your maintenance levels, your body can become leptin resistant. This means that your body cannot recognize when your body fat levels are too high and leptin receptors become desensitized. Leptin resistance will drive your body towards holding onto body fat and stand in your way of becoming lean.
8 Ways to Keep Your Leptin Levels Regulated
1. Get Enough Fibre
Increase your daily dietary fibre consumption by eating fibreous foods such as whole grains, legumes, and oatmeal. Fibre gives you a feeling of fullness, causing your intestinal tract to send a signal to your brain to release more leptin.
2. Limit Fructose Consumption
Fructose inhibits your leptin receptors, especially high fructose corn syrup. The main culprits are processed goods because fructose is inexpensive and often used in sodas, cookies, and other sweet snacks. The easiest way to cut this from your diet is to eat whole foods – foods that most closely resemble their natural state.
3. Consume Complex Carbohydrates
Say no to simple carbs (refined, sugary, processed and generally white) because they spike your insulin levels, which leads to resistance and disrupts your leptin production. Increase your daily complex carbohydrate consumption from fruits and vegetables. They are sources of fibre and water and eating more will tell your brain that you are full, without a high calorie intake. You can also include in moderation whole oats and pastas, quinoa, and brown rice.
4. Eat Protein for Breakfast
Protein will not only fuel your body for the day by making you feel fuller, buy it will also kickstart you leptin levels. Try not to rely too heavily on cereals because they contain lectin and bind to your leptin receptors, thereby hampering leptin’s ability to do its job.
5. Take Omega-3
Increase your omega-3 fatty acid consumption either through supplements, or by eating more foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines. Omega-3 can help increase leptin levels by supporting a healthy inflammatory response, which is the main reason leptin resistance develops. It also increases your body’s sensitivity to leptin, making it more receptive.
6. Avoid Severe Calorie Restriction
If you’re not getting enough nutrients, your body will start shutting down and disrupt your hormone production. Your metabolism will slow as will your production of leptin. For most people losing weight is good for leptin production because being at a healthy weight regulates your hormones.
7. Perform H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training)
Perform high-intensity exercise for short stints. This will stimulate large secretions of human growth hormone, which boost fat-burning mechanisms, and help to regulate leptin levels.
8. Get More Sleep
Sleep the recommended 8 hours a day. If you do not get enough rest, your body will make less leptin and more ghrelin (the hormone that tells your body you’re hungry). Without enough rest your body starts producing ghrelin and not producing leptin. A recent study showed those who didn’t get a good night’s rest had a 15% lower leptin level than those who got enough sleep, since leptin levels typically rise during the sleep cycle. If you’ve ever felt hungrier the day after a poor night’s sleep, this is because your leptin levels have dropped and are telling your brain that you need to eat.