Leptin: A Key Nutrient To Help You Stay Leaner And Smarter!
What Is Leptin?
The hormone leptin plays a key role in regulating body weight and energy expenditure. It is secreted from fat cells into the bloodstream where it acts as a signal to control appetite, satiety, and energy intake. Leptin levels are lower when there is excess food or calories stored away in adipose tissue (fat). When leptin levels are low, the brain signals the hypothalamus to release hormones such as insulin and glucagon which cause your body to store fat instead of burning it off.
In addition, if you have diabetes or other metabolic disorders, then leptin may play a role in controlling blood sugar levels.
How Does Leptin Affect Your Body?
When you eat food with lots of carbohydrates and sugars, your body releases insulin which causes glucose to enter your bloodstream. Insulin stimulates the liver to produce glycogen, which is used for fuel during exercise. Glucose enters your muscles and blood vessels where it helps you burn fat for energy. However, if you don’t get enough calories or nutrients to meet your daily needs, then your body will start storing some of these extra carbs and sugars as fat.
The amount of leptin you have in your blood stream plays a role in determining your appetite, energy expenditure, and fat loss. When you have more leptin, then your body ramps up its metabolism and starts burning off fat cells for energy.
The more leptin in your blood, the less likely you are to overeat and the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight.
However, when leptin levels drop, then you start to develop insulin resistance and leptin resistance. The lower your leptin level gets, the more difficult it is to access your fat stores for energy.
This can make losing weight extremely difficult, especially if you are overweight or obese.
Optimal Leptin Levels
A highly active athlete may need high levels of leptin to keep their metabolism revved up. A moderate amount of exercise can help increase leptin levels naturally.
In addition, certain foods naturally increase leptin levels such as:
Protein rich foods
Nuts and nut butters
Low-fat dairy products
Carbohydrates also play a role in increasing leptin, but only until your body converts them into fat. Eating complex carbohydrates and limiting simple carbs can help you maintain normal leptin levels.
How Does Leptin Help With Appetite?
Leptin also affects your appetite. When leptin is low, your brain will start to signal that you need to eat more food. This is one reason why people who are dieting or under-eating can become so hungry all the time. Their brain isn’t getting the signals that it needs to tell it that the body has enough energy stored away in the form of fat.
When leptin is out of balance and not functioning properly, then your brain can’t figure out when you’ve had enough to eat or when you’ve stored enough fat away for future use.
By taking steps to naturally increase leptin levels, you can trick your brain into thinking that you have enough energy stored away for use when needed.
How Does Leptin Help With Losing Weight?
When you diet, your body senses that there’s a food shortage and it slows down your metabolism to conserve energy. This makes it much harder for you to lose weight. A slowed down metabolism is a double-edged sword. While it may help you to gain less weight in the short term when you return to your normal eating habits, it also makes it much harder for you to lose weight in the long term.
You need to stop this cycle before it does long-term damage to your body. It’s believed that leptin can help prevent this metabolic slow down when you’re dieting by tricking your body into thinking it has enough energy stored away as fat.
By keeping your metabolism revved up, you’re able to lose weight and keep it off for good.
By eating foods that naturally increase leptin levels, you can increase the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Certain foods like green tea can help and eating more protein can also increase leptin.
An overweight person who is looking to lose weight should try to eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates. High fat foods will naturally help increase leptin, but limit high glycemic index foods that turn to sugar in the body.
A person who is underweight may not have enough leptin due to their diet. These people need to eat more food and increase their leptin levels before they can effectively burn fat.
One misconception about leptin is that it only affects fat people. This is false.
Everyone has leptin and it plays an important role in everyone’s metabolism.
If leptin wasn’t in the human body, then nobody would be able to eat anything at all. Leptin is important for regulating appetite, but it’s also important for a healthy metabolism as well.
What Foods Increase Leptin?
So what are some good food choices for increasing leptin levels?
Here are some of the most beneficial:
These fruits are a great source of potassium. Leptin is actually made in the body from one of its chemical components, a compound called arginine.
Studies have shown that people who eat more foods rich in arginine tend to have higher leptin levels than people who don’t. Bananas also contain magnesium, which helps your cells respond properly to leptin signals.
This tea is a great source of antioxidants that can help your body fight oxidative stress. The anti-inflammatory properties in green tea can also help your cells respond to leptin by increasing the amount of weight you lose.
Drink organic green tea at least twice a day for best results.
Pumpkin seeds are high in arginine, just like bananas are.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Is leptin the link between fat and bone mass? by T Thomas, B Burguera – Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2002 – Wiley Online Library
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Body fat, leptin, and hypothalamic amenorrhea by RS Ahima – New England Journal of Medicine, 2004 – Mass Medical Soc
Changes in plasma levels of fat-derived hormones adiponectin, leptin, resistin and visfatin in patients with rheumatoid arthritis by M Otero, R Lago, R Gomez, F Lago… – Annals of the …, 2006 – ard.bmj.com