Written by: Brendon Groves Clinical Naturopathic Practitioner and Founder of Groves Naturopathics October 7, 2018
Why Testing Leptin may be Important in Weight Loss, Part 4
The Discovery of the Skinny Hormone
The word Leptin comes from the Greek term leptos “thin” it’s the skinny hormone The discovery of leptin in 1994 was thought to be the answer to weight loss, taking a leptin supplementation looked like a very successful treatment option that would make us lean. “So what happened to the leptin pill?” Most people have leptin resistance which comes from too much leptin they do not have leptin deficiency, taking more leptin would make things worse. Clinical trials carried out in 1998 where leptin injections where administer only led to disappointment. Further tests have found leptin supplementation to be ineffective for the treatment of obesity. ref 1, ref 2
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a protein hormone secreted from fat cells:
- To inhibit appetite, as opposed to ghrelin that makes you hungry
- It tells your brain how much fat reserves you are carrying
Leptin is known as the “inhibit appetite” it is supposed to make you feel satisfied. “Leptin stops you from eating, it shuts down your hunger, Wow!” You feel satisfied, that wonderful feeling of fullness that’s when it’s working correctly. Leptin fits into the category of the reward hormones its one of Your feel good… hormones like dopamine and serotonin
What is the Role of Leptin?
Leptin when its working helps your body by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight by regulating how much energy you burn.
- Did you know that when you reduce body fat it lowers the leptin signal, your brain responds by slowing down your metabolism, and it tells you to stop eating.
- The lower leptin signal is why it’s so difficult to maintain weight after a weight loss program, the reduced leptin can trigger huge increases in cravings.
What is Leptin Resistance and is it Making You Fat?
Leptin resistance is when your cells stop responding to a normal amount of Leptin. Your body then makes ever increasing amounts of Leptin to overcome the resistance. The brain manages this by the amount of leptin travelling across the blood-brain barrier. Two main food groups contribute to leptin resistance, and they are refined carbohydrates and fats ref 3. This sounds like we are doomed, but you can change this pattern see “6 Ways to Reduce Leptin Resistance.” Leptin resistance is when your body stops responding to normal leptin signals to stop eating. So when we don’t listen to this signal because we are eating for comfort, pleasure, bored, emotionally upset or just eating foods low in nutrition and high empty calories. In this situation, your body has no alternative but to make even higher levels of the hormone leptin to get you to respond (stop eating) … and so the cycle continues. So if I suspect you have leptin resistance I may suggest we measure it as a benchmark perhaps along with other hormones, then when we see your levels of leptin go down we know you are making progress. Reestablishing your leptin sensitivity will help to prevent you from rebound weight gain. Now, this all sounds very simple, but and it is there are many things to consider and that’s why weight loss is so individual. Scientific research has established that leptin resistance is a critical risk factor for obesity, it can make losing weight very difficult. ref 4. Similar to insulin resistance, where high amounts of insulin are needed to balance blood sugar levels. I will talk about it in my next blog. “The Most Effective Tactics To Manage Insulin for Weight Loss”
How do you know you are Leptin Resistant?
- Tired after eating a meal
- Hungry all the time
- Eat more than your body needs
- Crave foods
- Feel sickly, similarly to insulin resistance
- If you are overweight by 7 kgs
- You notice that you have a bit of a belly
Why I regular test leptin
I test leptin to get a benchmark of your current leptin level. Valuable information is gathered that helps to know:
- Increased leptin levels
- Leptin deficiency levels
- How much excess fat you are carrying
When the leptin level goes down you are making progress, and when leptin goes up, you have more leptin resistance. The old saying applies here, if I can’t measure it’s going to be hard to manage. Knowing you current leptin levels helps in understanding, designing and managing your program which I monitor periodically to track your progress and make adjustments as required.6 Ways to Reduce Leptin Resistance :
- Reduce your body fat, triglycerides and you automatically reduce the amount of leptin hormone. ref 5
- Reduce carbohydrates and your insulin and leptin levels decrease.
- Reduce your saturated fat intake, especial when combined with high fructose corn syrup. ref 6
- Sleep 8 hours per night. Sleeping less than 8 hours increases body mass index, (BMI) a measure of body fat ratio to weight, height and age. ref 7
- Eat a moderate level of protein. It will generally not increase your blood glucose.
- Eat 6-7 cups of vegetables per day that are high in fibre and low glycemic index that is low carbohydrate ranked food that has a minimal effect on blood glucose levels.
What is the Role of Leptin? It is:
- “Satiety hormone” that stops you from eating too much by making you feel satisfied.
- It also regulates your metabolism, speeds it up and slows it down.
Can I take a leptin pill? No this does not work, it increases leptin resistance What is Leptin Resistance? It is when your cells stop responding to a normal amount of Leptin, your body then makes every increasing amount’s of Leptin to overcome the resistance. You can Reduce Leptin Resistance; reduce body fat, reduce insulin, reduce saturated fat intake, sleep 8 hours per night, eat moderate protein, eat 6-7 cups vegetables per day. Yes, you can test leptin levels to get a benchmark and indicate whether the hormone is playing a role in gaining weight.
On our initial visit
I will go through a thorough assessment include a differential diagnosis to determine the contributing factors to your weight problem. I look at things like diet, lifestyle, hormones but not limited to the ones I mentioned above. As there may be sex hormones contributing to things like oestrogen progesterone, testosterone for women and oestrogen and testosterone ratios for men. Weight loss is difficult to treat due to its multitude of factors like emotions, social groups, genetics. That’s why I go to great lengths to 1st establish possible causes, then we test for confirmation of our suspensions, if needed with tests and then we are ready to deliver a viable long-term sustainable treatment. The hormone panel that we decide to go with will depend on your assessment. To keep it economical I will do some tests in-house and others we use specific functional laboratory and standard laboratories. Tests that are considered for the hormonal panel:
- Cortisol function
- Liver function
If you are having trouble with your weight I would love to help you:
I run a weekly weight loss program either on-line or from my Brisbane clinic. Please ask about my 1st care package or just be in touch I would love to hear from you even if its just to help you with what you’re currently doing. My mission in life is to be the best practitioner, and person I can be through my teaching and clinic, I wish to help as many people across the planet as I can. In health and Wisdom Brendon. Phone: +61 409 278 320 My next blog I will discuss “Effective Ways to Manage Insulin for Weight Loss” Part 5 in the series “How to Burn Fat and Preserve Muscle Safely with Ketogenic Diet.”