Leptin is a hormone that is produced by adipose fat tissues in the body and is responsible for making us feel full and controlling our hunger. According to Mark Sisson, “Leptin is the lookout hormone – the gatekeeper of fat metabolism, monitoring how much energy an organism takes in. It surveys and maintains the energy balance in the body, and it regulates hunger".
In theory, the more fat tissue a person accumulates, the more leptin should be secreted to signal the body to stop eating. Unfortunately, many people who have damaged metabolisms, hormonal imbalances, or are overweight may have leptin resistance. This is a condition where the leptin is unable to produce its normal effects to stimulate natural weight loss and have the person return to a healthy weight. This leptin resistance is actually sensed as starvation within the body, so multiple mechanisms are activated to actually increase fat stores, rather than burn excess fat stores. From there, a cyclical pattern emerges where the more fat accumulates, the more a person's appetite is triggered and the more they eat.
Factors that Contribute to Leptin Resistance
- Consuming fructose (especially in forms like High Fructose Corn Syrup)
- Having high levels of stress levels
- Consuming simple carbohydrates (bread, pastries, cookies, bagels)
- Insufficient sleep
- Having high insulin levels in the body
- Exercising too much, especially if your hormones are already damaged
- Consuming lectins - grains of all kinds (especially wheat), legumes (especially soy), nuts, dairy, and nightshade plants (e.g. eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers).
If you suspect you may have leptin resistance, the good news is that it can be corrected with the appropriate strategies. Of course the best place to start is to avoid the factors that aggravate leptin resistance, but in addition, you could implement effective steps toward recovery.
Tips for Leptin Resistance Recovery
- Avoid all simple starches, refined foods, sugars and fructose (includes fruit and natural sweeteners)
- Eat a large amount of protein and healthy fats first thing in the morning, as soon after waking as possible. This promotes satiety and gives the body the building blocks to make hormones. For example: 2-3 scrambled eggs, vegetables and left over meat from the night before cooked in coconut oil.
- Get sufficient sleep: you should be getting 7-9 hours per night (in bed by 10 pm). This is imperative.
- Be outdoors as much as possible during the day, preferably barefoot on the ground, in mid-day sun with some skin exposed.
- DON’T SNACK!!! When you are constantly eating, even small amounts, during the day it keeps your liver working and doesn’t give hormones a break. Try to space meals at least 4 hours apart and don’t eat for at least 3-4 hours before bed.
- Avoid workouts. If you are really Leptin resistant, this will just be an additional stress on the body so it's important to let your body heal first.
- When you do exercise, do only sprints and weight lifting. Walking or swimming is acceptable but don’t do cardio because it produces too much stress on the body. Resistance training or weight lifting in the evening are more beneficial because this supports hormone levels without the stress from excess cardio.
- Remove toxins from your life as these are a stress on your body. By getting rid of processed foods, commercial personal care products, and eating organic as much as possible will go a long way! Well formulated, whole food detox programs (like these ones) are also very beneficial to help reduce toxins, sugar cravings, and improve sleep.
- Increase your Omega-3 fatty acids (wild caught fish, grassfed meats, chia seeds) and minimize your Omega-6 consumption (vegetable oils, conventional meats, grains) to reduce inflammation in the body and to help support healthy leptin levels.
- Avoid severe calorie restriction. Too much dieting inhibits leptin secretion. In fact, drastic reductions in caloric intake reduce leptin levels. An anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Ketogenic diet, will help to reset your leptin levels because it does not restrict calories, it reduces inflammatory carbohydrates.
Need some inspiration? Try these leptin friendly recipes from my seasonal detox programs:
BAKED EGGS & AVOCADOS
Makes 2 servings
2 ripe avocados
4 fresh eggs
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives or green onion
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the avocados in half, and take out the pit. Scoop out about two tablespoons of flesh from the center of the avocado, just enough so the egg will fit in the center. Place the avocados in a small baking dish so they fit tightly.
Crack an egg into each avocado half. Crack the yolk in first, then let the egg whites spill in to fill up the rest of the shell.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of your eggs and avocados. Just make sure the egg whites have enough time to set. Remove from oven, then season with pepper, chives or green onions.
Makes 1 serving
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup dairy free milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon stevia
Warm or serve cold
1 tablespoon shredded coconut (optional)
1 tablespoon ground sunflower seeds (optional)
ASSEMBLE THE NIGHT BEFORE. The night before you want the pudding for breakfast, mix dairy free milk, chia seeds, vanilla and cinnamon in a container with a lid, shake well and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
THE NEXT MORNING. The next morning eat pudding cold or transfer the pudding from the container to a pot on the stove. Warm it for 2 to 3 minutes and serve it in a bowl.
SERVING SUGGESTION. Add stevia (if desired) and optional shredded coconut or add an extra boost of protein with sunflower seeds.
If you would like more information about how I can help you achieve your weight loss goals, schedule a FREE strategy session with me today!