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Leptin Resistance- The Reason You Aren’t Losing Weight

Leptin Resistance- The Reason You Aren’t Losing Weight

What Is leptin resistance?

Leptin is a hormone produced by adipose tissue (fat cells) and plays an essential role in regulating appetite and energy balance. It communicates with the brain to signal when the body has stored enough fat and energy, can reduce appetite, and increase energy expenditure. Leptin resistance occurs which the body's cells do not respond appropriately to the hormone leptin. If your body is leptin resistant, it doesn’t recognize high leptin levels, and this makes you more prone to being obese due to the dysregulation of appetite and body weight.

In a healthy individual, fat cells release leptin into the bloodstream, it reaches the brain's hypothalamus, which controls appetite and satiety. The brain then interprets the leptin signal, leading to decreased appetite and enhanced energy expenditure when adequate fat stores are present.

What are the symptoms of leptin resistance?

The main symptoms of leptin resistance are continually feeling hungry and increased food intake regardless of having adequate or excess amounts of body fat.

The symptoms of leptin resistance include:

  • The inability to lose weight even with calorie restriction and extreme exercise.
  • Severe cravings for food even if recently eaten
  • A slower than normal or damaged metabolism (    
  • Persistent weight gain despite attempts at weight loss
  • Below normal body temperature
  • Slower than normal resting heart rate

Other conditions besides obesity that are associated with leptin resistance are nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, depression, food addiction, neurodegenerative disorders, and Rabson–Mendenhall syndrome.

How does leptin resistance affect my health?

This resistance can lead to a range of issues, including:

Increased Appetite: Leptin resistance can result in a poor of appropriate appetite control. People may feel hungry even though they have sufficient energy stores in their fat tissue.

Weight Gain: Due to increased appetite and decreased energy expenditure, people with leptin resistance are more likely to gain weight and have trouble losing weight.

Obesity: Leptin resistance is often associated with obesity, as excessive fat tissue can indicate elevated levels of leptin. However, the brain's failure to react to the hormone disrupts the body's capability to regulate weight.

Metabolic Problems: Leptin resistance is linked to metabolic issues, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high triglyceride levels, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What Causes Leptin Resistance?

The exact causes of leptin resistance are not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development:

Genetics: Genetic factors can play a role in an individual's susceptibility to leptin resistance. Usually, genetics are only about 10% of the problem. The other 90% is due to traditions, habits, recipes and being passed down, the food system, and toxins.

Free fatty acids: Having elevated free fatty acids in your bloodstream may increase fat metabolites in your brain and interfere with leptin signaling.

Inflammation: Chronic inflammation, often linked with obesity, can weaken leptin signaling.

Diet High in Carbohydrates, Sugar, Seed Oils, and Processed Foods

Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle can hinder the body's response to leptin.

How do you fix leptin resistance?

Addressing leptin resistance typically involves lifestyle changes, such as:

Weight Management: Losing excess weight can improve the body's response to leptin.

Dietary Modifications: Eating a balanced diet of real nutrient dense food. Reducing the intake of carbohydrates and sugar, cutting out seed oils (ex. canola oil), and cutting out processed foods can help. Try to get in around 100 to 130 grams of protein a day will help build muscle and help you to fill full. Omega-3 fatty acids and foods rich in fiber may also be beneficial.

Regular Exercise: Physical activity can enhance leptin sensitivity, improve overall metabolism, and build muscles.

Stress Management: Chronic stress can impact hormone regulation due to increased cortisol. Stress-reduction techniques may be beneficial such as getting a massage, walking, journaling, prayer, or reading a book.

Medications: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help with weight loss and improve metabolic function. At Be Whole Wellness Center, we do have a medical weight loss program and nutrition coaching that could be beneficial in helping you to lose weight.

Getting Proper Sleep: Sleep is when the body heals and repairs itself. If you aren’t sleeping, then you won’t lose weight. Start making sleep hygiene into your daily routine such as blocking artificial light, using blue light glasses, going to bed around 9:30pm, don’t watch TV late at night, getting up to watch the sunrise or morning sun, make sure your room is cool and dark, or use a sound machine.

Can you test for leptin resistance?

Yes, you can with a blood test known as a serum leptin level which looks at the total leptin hormone concentration in your blood. The blood test needs to be after a 12 hour fast. If your fasted serum leptin level is greater than 10 ng/ml and have the symptoms of leptin resistance, then you most likely have the condition of leptin resistance.

Additionally, you should be checked for the presence of other hormone imbalances such as hypothyroidism, estrogen dominance, low progesterone, low testosterone, or high cortisol because these imbalances can show an even bigger problem that is going on.

It's important for individuals with concerns about leptin resistance to consult with a healthcare provider who can provide a proper evaluation and guidance on addressing the issue.