Appetite Control and Leptin
Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, discovered in just 1994 is a hormone made by fat cells that helps to regulate hunger. After you eat, leptin is released into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain telling you to stop eating because you’re full. Without leptin we could continue to eat until we explode. Some people have what’s called leptin resistance where the brain is unable to pick up its signals causing mindless eating and overeating. It’s also a cycle where the more you eat, the more engorged your fat cells, and the greater the risk of worsening your leptin resistance because it is your fat cells that make this hormone. The more you gain, the more sensitive your body becomes to leptin. Leptin resistance is associated with certain other medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, and elevated triglycerides in the bloodstream. Leptin’s main role is long-term regulation of energy balance… the amount of calories we eat and expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies
People with leptin resistance may find that they have frequent or even constant cravings or feelings of hunger. Researchers are still working to fully understand and develop effective treatments for leptin resistance, but for now, controlling cravings is the key to combating the effects of this condition. If you’re eating lots of sugar/carbs, or if you’re very stressed or sleep deprived, you’re more likely to feel like you have an appetite you just can’t satisfy. To beat your cravings, protein and fiber are the keys as they both keep you very full for a long time.
Reversing Leptin Resistance: How do you know if you’re leptin resistant? There is no set blood test done to determine leptin levels. The best test to do to determine if you are leptin resistant is to look in the mirror. If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area then you are almost certainly leptin resistant. Leptin resistance occurs years before insulin resistance and full blown diabetes.
So what can we do? The low carb, gluten free diet will help you tremendously!
- Cut out grains, refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with “slow burn” foods like protein and fats so you avoid leptin spikes that cause leptin resistance
- Increase the good fats in your diet including avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, butter, ghee and olive oil. Take 2,000mg-3,000mg Omega 3 (fish oils)
- Avoid processed foods
- Increase fiber in your diet. I recommend taking fiber supplements 30 minutes before each meal
- Always have protein with each meal
- Eat 3 meals per day and not snacking all day stabilizes leptin levels and avoids spikes
- Exercise like resistance training increases leptin sensitivity so the signals can reach your brain that you’re full
- Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep
So here is yet another reason to follow a low carb, gluten free lifestyle. Eating real low carb/sugar food, exercising and sleeping well are all lifelong endeavours that require a shift in lifestyle.