Did you know that your body produces its very own fat burning hormone? A wonderful little hormone called leptin! Yes that’s correct, you do not need to be buying these “fat burning supplements” (which are highly processed and ironically enough, never seem to work) to lose those couple of pounds that you’ve been wanting to.
As diabetics we all know how vitally important it is to maintain a proper weight to ward off potential complications as well as help maintain proper blood sugar levels.
So lets take a look at leptin and see how you can increase levels in your very own body and start burning fat!
So what is leptin?
Leptin, also referred to as the hunger hormone, is a protein that performs a major part in the human body. This hormone oversees consumption of energy as well as expenditure of it. It plays an important role in metabolism and appetite.
The creation of leptin comes from our fat cells or adipose tissue. There’s a primary link between leptin levels and appetite. If leptin levels are higher, you feel less hunger. Probably the most interesting aspect about this hormone that quite a few individuals are not aware of is that when your exercising and dieting to shed those extra pounds, it actually has adverse effect and actually lowers the amount of leptin that we carry around. Here is an interesting study done by the NIH, you can read about it by clicking here.
Leptin And Obesity:
An individual whose hypothalamus (area of the brain that regulates our appetite) is responding appropriately has a built-in check against excessive weight gain, the leptin induced feeling of satiety.
However, if a person is obese, their hypothalamus gland can become resistant to the effects of leptin. As they accumulate more fat cells, the fat cells produce ever greater amounts of leptin, all the while making a hypothalamus that weekly responds to the hormone. Why does this happen?
How Leptin Works:
Leptin is secreted by fat cells and is received by receptors in the hypothalamus. If leptin is absent, feeding is uncontrolled and relentless. In normally healthy people, if leptin is present and receptors are sensitive, feeding is inhibited. More body fat means less food is required, and so leptin is secreted to inhibit feeding and the accumulation of excess adipose tissue. Overweight people generally have higher circulating leptin, while leaner people have lower levels. A severe caloric deficit will result in reduced leptin secretion – this is your body’s way of getting you to eat when you need energy. It’s the hunger hormone. Overfeeding temporarily boosts leptin, reducing hunger.
Simply put: long-term, leptin signals that the body has adequate energy stores; short-term,this signals that the body has had enough to eat. Both are supposed to result in the reduction in appetite.
Ways To Boost Leptin Levels:
What about a leptin diet?
By adjusting your diet you can actually increase 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. Fish is also beneficial because it contains omega-3 fatty acids which enhance sensitivity. High fiber foods are also beneficial.
Rest and Sleep:
Easier said than done, right? Especially for us type 1s…I know that’s the case for me anyway. I’m lucky if I can get a solid 5 hours and that’s with my blood sugars playing nice.
Sleep at least 7 hours per night. Sleeping fewer than 7 hours per night decreases leptin levels. Many people require 8 to 9 hours of sleep for optimal leptin levels. Let your energy level be your guide. If you are tired throughout the day, try sleeping an extra half hour to see if your energy increases, which is a sign of increased leptin levels.
There is also a fascinating study that appears to link the two.
Per the study:
Study participants were 1,024 volunteers from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, a population-based longitudinal study of sleep disorders. Participants underwent nocturnal polysomnography and reported on their sleep habits through questionnaires and sleep diaries. Following polysomnography, morning, fasted blood samples were evaluated for serum leptin and ghrelin (two key opposing hormones in appetite regulation), adiponectin, insulin, glucose, and lipid profile. Relationships among these measures, BMI, and sleep duration (habitual and immediately prior to blood sampling) were examined using multiple variable regressions with control for confounding factors.
A U-shaped curvilinear association between sleep duration and BMI was observed. In persons sleeping less than 8 h (74.4% of the sample), increased BMI was proportional to decreased sleep. Short sleep was associated with low leptin (p for slope = 0.01), with a predicted 15.5% lower leptin for habitual sleep of 5 h versus 8 h, and high ghrelin (p for slope = 0.008), with a predicted 14.9% higher ghrelin for nocturnal (polysomnographic) sleep of 5 h versus 8 h, independent of BMI.
You can read more about that by clicking here
And its not only when it comes to adults. Lack of sleep can also effect leptin levels in children. There is another study done by the National Institute of Health that you can read about that studies the rising obesity epidemic in children as well.
You can take a look at that by clicking here
How To Improve Leptin Levels:
Triglycerides, the main component of animal fats and vegetable oils play a key role and increase leptin resistance according the a study that appeared in the May 2004 issue of the journal Diabetes.
In addition, an animal study found that overeating increases leptin resistance; the results were published in the December 2001 issue of the journal Diabetes. You can also check out some foods that increase leptin sensitivity by clicking here
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Thanks for Reading!