By Joanne Pérodin, certified nutritionist and trainer specialized in weight loss
Leptin is a hormone created in fat cells and helps your body to recognize how hungry it is, determine whether to hold on to weight. Leptin also works with hormones including thyroid, cortisol, and insulin.
Leptin is most active in your brain but has receptors all over your body. When you finish eating a meal, leptin is released in your body and travels towards the part of your brain that regulates appetite, the hypothalamus. Once there, the leptin bonds with leptin receptors to switch your appetite on or off. When your appetite is switched off, you stop being hungry and your body starts burning more calories.
There are couple factors that can impact the regulation of leptin production:
- You can be born with low levels of leptin. As a result, at a young age, one can become severely obese.
- High body fat can increase the production of leptin. Excessive production of leptin resulting from overeating can wear out leptin receptors. As a result, these receptors will stop recognizing leptin. This condition is called leptin resistance, therefore the appetite switch does not turn off when it should. Subsequently, one will remain hungry and their metabolism will slow down.
Losing a little bit of weight will increase your body sensitivity to leptin and get you back to being able to control your hunger.
Conditions associated with leptin disorder: diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, gallstones, testosterone deficiency, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high blood lipids.
Things that can lead to leptin disorder: aging, lack of sleep, obesity, smoking, stress, high trans-fat diet, high carb (bad carb) diet, abdominal fat.