Is This Hormone Imbalance Making You Fat And Hungry?

leptin reistance

You’ve already eaten, but here you are again only a short time later with that gnawing desire to eat something else.

So you eat that too.

Very soon you’re looking for something else.

… And so the cycle continues.

The feeling you get isn’t so much that of an empty growling stomach, but more of a deep ‘need’, like your body just has to have something else.

This need to eat is making your clothes tighter and a challenge to lose weight.

For some of us, it can be an imbalance in our ‘fullness’ hormone.

Today we’re going to take a look at this hormone and how you can start to balance it out again naturally and holistically.

What Is The ‘Fullness’ Hormone?

You may have heard of it before. The hormone is called leptin, and it lives in your fat cells. 

‘The more fat cells you have, the more leptin you have.

When we eat a meal leptin is released from your fat cells and travels to your brain to tell you to stop eating. It signals to the body that enough energy has been received and it also tells the body it’s ok to start using that energy.

Leptin doesn’t just respond when we eat. Other conditions can elevated leptin, like emotional stress. Think about the last time you lost your appetite due to a break up or other emotional trauma.

In times of famine, or low body fat levels we have lower leptin. This tells your brain (along with other chemicals) that we need to seek food.

But, there are also other conditions that lower leptin and put us in food seeking mode: exercise, increased testosterone (think PCOS), sleep deprivation and fasting.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. I have a lot of fat cells so …

… Why Isn’t My Leptin Working?

Well, this is usually due to leptin resistance.

That means, leptin is being released from your fat cells, but your brain isn’t getting it.

Research over the past 20 years has demonstrated this can happen in a number of ways:

  • High insulin. Insulin blocks the signal from leptin. High insulin in itself is not bad because insulin is the hormone required to store macro-nutrients in our cells from a meal. But constantly elevated insulin, and levels higher than normal ranges are what can contribute to leptin resistance.
  • Wheat. While more research is needed on this topic, initial studies show that wheat gluten blocks the binding of leptin onto its receptor.
  • High Triglycerides. This block leptin’s journey through the blood to the brain.

Increasing Leptin Doesn’t Work.

The leptin theory used to be that if you increase leptin then you will get the appetite balancing effects, but scientists soon realized that it wasn’t about increasing leptin levels …

We needed our body to ‘hear’ the leptin we already had.

If you are overweight or obese, you are already producing enough leptin, it’s simply that the brain isn’t receiving it.

So the solution, is to improve leptin sensitivity.

How To Lose Weight And Reduce Over-Eating By Improving Leptin Sensitivity.

Before I head into this – a word of caution.

I see many women who think they’re fat, but they’re not. Those of a balanced body weight are more likely to have balanced leptin levels, but there certainly are other things that can drive food cravings. The advice I’m about to present might not work for you if your eating is driven by other things.

Some women are underweight and therefore have low leptin levels. Your desires to eat are potentially coming from the fact that your body is trying to bring you back to its ‘normal’ levels. But you may also be malnourished.

I also see women who are seriously under-eating. Your desires to eat may simply be coming from the fact that, well … you need to actually eat.

This advice is for the overweight, over-eaters.

We want to get your insulin under control, lower triglycerides and allow leptin to reach the right receptors. Most importantly, we want to do it in a healthy way that nourishes you with vitamins and minerals so you can lose weight and be happy.

6 Simple Steps:

  1. Try eating three meals a day, leaving 5-6 hours between meals. Avoid the urge to eat after dinner to allow your body a good overnight fast.
  2. Take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal.
  3. Ensure you are eating enough calories at those three meals. Include low Insulin Index foods and colorful carbohydrates, protein and good fats.
  4. Reduce wheat consumption to a few times a week. Feel free to include good quality white or brown pasta in moderation. Although it is wheat, it is actually a low insulin index food.
  5. Manage stress and ensure you are getting 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep a night.
  6. Do some sort of exercise and if you find yourself becoming ravenous after exercise and overeating, just check that you are in fact eating enough food. Some people can actually do quite well on just 3x a week / 30min intense exercise, so don’t think you have to be running the mousewheel for hours.

Once you are down to sensible body fat levels and your appetite is more regulated your meal frequency, size and activity can change. Of course, don’t be tempted to go back to your ‘old ways’ and undo your great efforts and of course seek professional help if you’re not sure what to do next.