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Is Leptin Keeping You Fat?

By: Jason Yun

A lot of people struggle with weight loss. The success rate for those people who lose the weight and keep it off permanently is an extremely low number compared to those who actually set forth and try. Some people just can't lose weight at all even after trying and trying with different strategies. Why? Are they just not doing it correctly?

Well, there are some things in the body that might be to blame for these people that just cannot lose weight at all. They are called hormones. Everybody's heard of hormones. Although the ones specifically you might not have heard about. 

The major hormone I'd like to talk about is leptin. Leptin plays a huge role in weight loss and weight gain. Its purpose is to regulate energy intake, energy expenditure, appetite regulation and fat metabolism. Leptin tells your brain (hypothalamus) weather or not you have sufficient energy levels in the body or if you have too much at which point you need to burn some off. It plays a huge role in determining your body's physical cravings for food.

Leptin and obesity is becoming a huge problem. Unfortunately leptin does not control the type of food you eat or crave for-- that's up to you. So any excess food that is eaten and not burned off will be converted into fat. Scientists are finding that a lot of obese people are resistant to leptin. Over eating routinely will cause the appetite regulation of leptin to be less and less effective. So the person will become leptin resistant.  The person has plenty of the hormone in the body, it's just that the hormone is not doing its job. The effects of leptin are shut down. Leptin resistance will make losing weight nearly impossible. 

So there is really 2 things you can do. You can either increase the production, or improve how it works inside your body. 

But the problem is with obese and overweight people are that they already have more then enough in the body. So much that the body has become resistant to it. So the body will then increase your appetite and decrease your metabolism. Great for putting on excess weight. 

Now leptin doesn't work alone here. Just like when you’re exercising your muscles work in conjunction to get the job done. Same goes with hormones inside your body. Cortisol and insulin are big ones. If your cortisol levels are out of whack, you have a problem with leptin. If you are insulin resistant you are leptin resistant. But to keep this article short and interesting we're just going to focus on leptin, but still know that there is more to it then just the single hormone. 

Everything can be changed in the body though. If you tried and failed before, don't give up. Change is extremely difficult. 

So here are some tips to managing your leptin levels and getting it back to 'normal':

1. Diets Suck!

Leptin levels have been shown to drop severely if someone is following a very low calorie diet (1200 calories or less) or when fasting. Most diets cut calories to at least 1200. Diets suck though-- plain and simple. If you can't produce any leptin in the body you can forget about weight loss. 

2. Protein with every meal

Protein takes longer to digest so it gives you longer lasting energy. No quick crashes and craving for sugary foods or bad news food. 

3. Avoid foods with a lot of sugar, fats, and artificial ingredients

Obviously a no-brainer rule for anybody. 

4. Don't overeat!

Listen to your body. When leptin is acting correctly in the body you will know when your hunger is satisfied. Don't force yourself to eat more then your body needs. 



Jason Yun, a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Sports Nutritionist, is the owner of Yun Strength and Fitness Systems, LLC and is a Columbus fitness boot camp instructor and weight management teacher.


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