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Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to gain weight but so hard to lose it? Why no matter how many times you tell yourself that you won’t reach for that bedtime snack you do it anyway…
Well, the answer is in your hormones – one hormone in particular in fact.
The name of the hormone is leptin. And, if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s the hormone that signals your brain that you’re full so that you stop eating and it increases the number of calories you burn… Both good things, right?
The problem comes in when you become resistant to leptin.
When that happens, it takes far more than willpower to keep you from gaining weight (or to take it off).
In fact, if you’re struggling with your weight, leptin resistance is very likely the culprit behind all of your troubles.
What causes leptin resistance?
Leptin resistance can be caused by many factors (almost all of which are extremely common across our country).
#1 – Obesity
One more area of your health that is damaged by being overweight is your sensitivity to leptin. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that despite the fact that obese people actually have more leptin circulating in their bodies, it doesn’t cross over into their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) so it can’t signal the brain to stop eating.
#2 – High-fat diet
Researchers at the University of California – San Diego recently discovered that when mice are fed a high-fat diet they produce an enzyme named MMP-2 that clips receptors for the hormone leptin from their brain cells.
#3 – High triglycerides
Triglycerides are one of the things your doctor checks for when they do blood work for your cholesterol. They’re fats that can be found in your blood and if you have too much of them, it puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. And, they’ve also been shown to stop leptin from entering your brain.
#4 – Too much sugar
Another mechanism of leptin resistance is eating too much sugar – especially high fructose corn syrup. And, if you combine a high sugar diet with the high-fat diet we talked about above, your leptin doesn’t stand a chance.
#5 – Stress
And, guess what…
If all of those don’t get you, stress will. That’s because the stress you live with day-to-day is a proven cause of leptin resistance leading to obesity.
Overcoming leptin resistance
The good news is that you can reset your sensitivity to leptin and overcome leptin resistance.
#1 – Watch your diet
Avoid those high-sugar, high-fat foods that cause leptin resistance along with processed food that has chemicals that could negatively affect your feeling of fullness. Instead reach for whole foods with a focus on high fiber, high protein foods, and healthy fats.
It’s also important to reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat (especially refined carbs) since making the change can help lower your levels of leptin resistance-causing triglycerides.
#2 – Exercise
Regular physical activity can help decrease your leptin resistance and help you lose weight.
#3 – Get plenty of rest
Lack of enough sleep or not enough good quality sleep can add to your leptin problems so be sure to get plenty of the good stuff. Use a set sleep schedule, eliminate all sources of brain-awakening light (especially blue light) in your bedroom and take time for naps.
#4 – Allow yourself to cheat
A cheat day once a week (where you can eat whatever you want) may also be beneficial since it can trick your brain into making more leptin. So, go for that piece of pizza or vanilla milkshake – but only on one day each week.
Remember, between diet, stress and other factors, leptin resistance has become one of the leading causes of weight gain today. Use the tips above to beat this hormone resistance driving your weight problems, burn more calories and feel full sooner and get back in the shape you want.
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- Decreased cerebrospinal-fluid/serum leptin ratio in obesity: a possible mechanism for leptin resistance — Lancet
- Found: A destructive mechanism that blocks the brain from knowing when to stop eating — University of California – San Diego
- Triglycerides: Why do they matter? — Mayo Clinic
- Triglycerides Induce Leptin Resistance at the Blood-Brain Barrier — Diabetes
- Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high-fat feeding — American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
- Hypothalamic ER stress: A bridge between leptin resistance and obesity — FEBS Letters
- A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity — The New England Journal of Medicine
- Effect of long-term changes in diet and exercise on plasma leptin concentrations — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin — The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
- Effects of short-term carbohydrate or fat overfeeding on energy expenditure and plasma leptin concentrations in healthy female subjects — International Journal Of Obesity And Related Metabolic Disorders