Leptin is a hormone which is secreted from fat cells and that help to regulate your body weight. The word leptin comes from the Greek ‘leptos’ which means thin. It is also known as the fat controller. In this article we shall look in detail at the working of this vital hormone, its different functions and to how keep its levels in check for your body’s optimum health.
What is leptin?
Leptin is a hormone that is released from fat cells in adipose tissues. Adipose tissues are fond beneath the skin, in and around the breast area, your internal organs etc. Leptin controls your intake of food and your energy consumption over the long term. This means it is not on a meal to meal basis but rather over a period of time. The role of leptin gets more prominent when we lose weight and the levels of the hormone falls too. This fall stimulates an increased appetite and leads us to eat more. This makes it hard for us to lose weight. Leptin helps us in controlling our normal body weight.
How it is controlled?
The levels of leptin in your blood is directly proportionate to your body fat levels. A fat person will have more leptin flowing in his blood. If an individual increases its fat intake over a period of time its leptin levels will increase too and conversely decreased fat intake will cause reduced leptin levels.
Too much leptin:
Fat people usually have a very high level of leptin in their blood. This is because in them leptin does not tell the brain to stop triggering hunger. The brain thinks there is not enough fat in the body and to make up for it asks you to eat more. This in turn further increases the leptin production by the fat cells. This condition is popularly known as ‘leptin resistance’. The exact cause of this still unclear.
Too little leptin:
This type of condition is usually genetic in nature and it is also very rare to find. In cases where this occurs, there are leptin injections available. Absence of leptin makes the body think it does not have any fat whatsoever, this results in uncontrolled food intake. This condition can manifest itself in sever childhood obesity and delayed puberty.
Leptin and weight management:
It is important to maintain an optimum level of leptin to stay healthy, lean and in good spirits. This can be done through proper diet and eating as per your recommended caloric intake. If you are subjecting yourself to calorie-deficit often, your metabolic rate will fall and your leptin rates will fall too. This makes losing weight so much harder.
If you are eating more than your daily calorie requirements chances are your body will develop leptin resistance. This means your body can’t recognize when your body fat levels are high and the leptin receptors get desensitized. Leptin resistance will drive you to hold on to your body fat and you will become overweight.
Ways to regulate leptin levels:
Fortunately, there are some ways which can help you keep your leptin levels in check. These are mostly dietary habits that you must follow to ensure a healthy life.
Eat more Fiber:
In our quest for proteins, calcium and vitamins we often overlook fiber. This is a vital nutrient to keep us healthy. It keeps your gut healthy and happy. It also gives you the feeling of fullness causing your brain to release more leptin. You can get this from legumes, grains and oatmeal.
Fructose is cheap and often used in sodas, cookies and other sweet snacks. It inhibits your leptin receptors. Try to cut this from your diet by saying no to processed food. Eat whole food-which means eating food in its natural state as much as possible.
When it comes to carbohydrates you should say no to simple carbs and make friendship with complex carbs. Simple carbs are present in refined white sugar and it hikes your insulin level disrupting your leptin production as well. Complex carbs can be obtained from fruits and vegetables. They will also keep you feeling full for a long time. They are a great source of fiber and water. You can also include quinoa, pasta, brown rice and whole oats in your diet but in moderation.
Protein for breakfast:
Try having protein at breakfast. It will kickstart your leptin levels and also supply you enough fuel to start your day. Try avoiding cereals as they contain lectin, a substance that binds leptin receptors.
Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids either through diet like having Salmon or Sardines or through supplements. Omega 3s can lift your leptin levels and also increases your body’s sensitivity towards it making it more receptive.
Count your calories:
Don’t bind yourself with a calorie restrictive diet. It will slow down your metabolism as well as your leptin levels. Maintain a healthy weight, it will keep your leptin levels regulated.
Perform high intensity workout routines. It will stimulate the growth hormone in your body which boosts fat burning mechanism and also regulate leptin levels.
It is important that you get 6-8 hours of sleep every day. If you don’t get enough sleep your body will start producing ghrelin; this is the hormone that tells your body to eat more. So, always get enough rest.
Leptin is a very important hormone of our body but it is somewhat underrated and we don’t get to hear about it that often. It is important for our body to check our metabolism, hunger cues and energy consumption. We should strive to keep our leptin levels in healthy range by adopting healthy eating habits, exercise and getting enough sleep. This will keep our body in healthy shape and we won’t have to worry about our weight problems.