Leptin, or fullness hormone, is the molecule in charge of telling the brain that we should not eat more.
A person with uncontrolled leptin resistance or leptin has difficulty knowing when to stop eating. This can lead to an increase in body weight.
This article describes how leptin works and what needs to be done to regulate it.
Leptin: What is it, and what is its function?
Leptin is a protein produced by the fat cells of our body.
This hormone’s primary function is to regulate appetite and fat storage. In other words, the role of leptin is to discern how much energy is vital for a person. (1)
Studies have confirmed that a mutation in the production of the hormone leptin is one of the leading genetic causes of obesity and overweight. (4)
Just as it is a pattern for people who are overweight or obese to develop leptin resistance.
In these cases. As if it stopped “seeing” the excess fat, the brain begins to believe that it needs more energy and loses the ability to control its appetite.
How does leptin work?
When a person is underweight or malnourished, leptin reduces the need to search for food. (4)
A high level of the hormone leptin in the blood disables the desire to eat. On the contrary, when leptin drops, the brain signals that energy will end soon, and hunger appears. (4.5)
Leptin works in combination with the hormone ghrelin, and this is the body’s primary strategy to resist a more extended amount of time without eating.
Controlling leptin levels is essential to avoid gaining weight.
The hormone leptin and body weight
Unfortunately, when fat stores are high, the leptin mechanism fails. The brain stops receiving the signal from this hormone and mistakenly believes that the extra calories are necessary.
In theory, a high level of leptin should tell the brain that there is enough energy. But this process can be altered by excessive food consumption and low physical activity.
Nowadays, in developed countries, leptin resistance is becoming more frequent. One of the causes is the consumption of sugar and other simple carbohydrates.
Leptin, diet, and hunger
When you do an exaggerated restriction of foods when doing extreme diets, leptin levels are altered.
The brain changes how it searches for food, translating into a keen sense of hunger. The situation is exacerbated by restricting fat as much as possible.
In addition, the synthesis of other hormones such as testosterone is impaired.
The best strategy to avoid being hungry when dieting and regulating leptin levels is to decrease total calories by 10-20%.
Going overboard with physical exercise and extreme dieting can be effective in the short term. However, you will likely regain the weight in weeks, known as the rebound effect.
Leptin values in women
Leptin values in women are significantly higher than in men (4).
For this reason, women are more likely to fall into the “leptin trap.” Attempting to burn fat with a reduction in food and adherence to strict low-fat diets can increase hunger pangs.
Women and men should supplement a healthy diet with moderate training to lose weight.
Ghrelin vs. leptin
Ghrelin and leptin are two critical hormones in regulating appetite.
The main difference between the hormone leptin and ghrelin is permanence. Leptin is a long-term regulatory hormone. Ghrelin is a short-term acting hormone. (5)
While there is still more research for science to understand precisely the mechanism of both hormones, there is no doubt that achieving an ideal weight is critical.
How to regulate leptin? – Food
A balanced diet is required to restore the body’s ability to respond adequately to leptin. Making a transition from simple carbohydrates to complex carbohydrates is critical. As well as limiting foods with trans fats and weighting natural foods.
A low-carbohydrate diet is a good start for regulating blood sugar. While these diets should be carried out for short periods, they effectively regulate leptin.
It is essential to know that there are no foods with leptin. Instead, some foods are recommended to control hunger hormone levels. As a general rule, it can be said that they are foods with fiber. Within this category, we include:
- Wholemeal flours
- Chia seeds
- Integral rice
Leptin and type 2 diabetes
Leptin and type 2 diabetes are two concepts that are closely related.
Research suggests that understanding leptin works is a potential target for reducing type 2 diabetes worldwide.
While there is still a long way to go, avoiding sugar is something any nutritionist could agree to do. When the goal is to regulate leptin and prevent diabetes, this should be high on the priority list.
Leptin is called the hunger hormone. This is because its primary function is sending the brain the information that it is time to eat.
People who are overweight or obese tend to be leptin resistant.
Decreasing the consumption of simple carbohydrates is essential to regulate the hunger hormone.
Women typically have lower leptin levels than men.
Ghrelin works together with leptin; these are two hormones related to the feeling of hunger—the first works by regulating the feeling of hunger once you start eating. At the same time, ghrelin is associated with the first urge to eat.