What is Leptin and Leptin Resistance
Leptin is a hormone that is made by the fat cells in your fatty abdominal tissue. Leptin sends signals to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain and changes acts to alter food intake and control energy expenditure over the long term. If your diet and fitness strategies do not lead to the desired result, it could be wise to check the level of leptin. So, for example, with insulin resistance in Type 2 Diabetes, insulin stays high for a long time and bombards the cells of the body until they become resistant to such high insulin levels and do not respond to high insulin anymore. With leptin resistance, just like with insulin resistance, leptin signals do not reach the brain, as the receptors in the hypothalamus stopped responding to the high levels of leptin, the receptors kind of got tired so to say. Abdominal fat (scientifically named “visceral adipose tissue”) produces higher amounts of leptin which leaves you constantly feeling hungry, as well as the cravings for junk food, sweets, simple carbs that keep you satiated just for an hour or two.
Along with other endocrine disorders, leptin resistance is one of the most common causes of weight gain and problems with its reduction. It is also important to note that leptin increase can be due to the exposure to the harmful types of mold in your house, your car or your workplace. Mycotoxins (toxins produced by mold) may cause impaired thyroid function, high leptin and leptin resistance that develops gradually the longer you are exposed to such molds as Aspergillus, Penicillin, Chaetomium – a type of mold as bad as Stachybotrys, aka Black mold.
I see more and more patients who were not successful using phentermine, HCG diet, rigorous cross-fit exercises and strict diets that caused them to also impair their HPA-axis (aka “Adrenal burnout”) and even optimizing their thyroid function does not help right away to get rid of excess weight.
What you need to pay attention to:
- Leptin levels of more than 10 ng/ml;
- Increased chronic inflammation – high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) > 1, fibrinogen more than 3, high Omega-6 and low Omega-3 indecis, as well as an increased level of resistant T3.
Diet and Lifestyle Strategy to Decrease Leptin Resistance.
- Breakfast no later than 60 minutes after waking up.
- Breakfast should consist of a large amount of protein (30-50 grams) and healthy fats;
- Eat seasonal produce and ideally local to preserve the nutrients that are lost during transportation;
- Dinner or the last meal should be consumed no later than 4 hours going to bed.
Leptin Resistance Treatment
No need to go on a strict diet – this will only make it worse. People suffering from leptin resistance should not adhere to strict diets and are more likely to overeat after the diet.
Healthy balanced diet is the most important point here, instead of strict dieting.
- The cornerstone of a balanced diet is a lot of vegetables and legumes, nuts, lean meats, and fish.
- Eat healthy fats: they become the building block for hormones. Avoid simple carbohydrates, it helps to lower the level of triglycerides and free fatty acids, namely, they prevent leptin from entering the brain. You should also temporarily stop the consumption of sugar and fructose (refuse ALL fruits).
- IF is an excellent remedy for a large number of triglycerides in the blood as when you go hungry at regular intervals, the fat tissue gets smaller. You gradually lose weight, and the achieved results by an increase in sensitivity to leptin (a state opposite to leptin resistance). But if you are experiencing HPA-Axis dysfunction, often referred to as “Adrenal Burnout”, you may need to avoid Intermittent Fasting as you will not be able to tolerate it as well and it will cause you to overeat during the short time period that you schedule for meals. If you experience severe fatigue, jitteriness, brain fog, inability to focus or be productive, crankiness and irritability, increase the amount of protein and fat in your diet, and, possibly, healthy complex carbs. As always, not one diet fits all and from my own experience, I actually gained more weight while doing IF, as well as I could not focus on anything and had all the above-mentioned symptoms of adrenal dysregulation.
- Men to be more successful with Intermittent Fasting than women. Heavier men who have more fat to lose may be ok with fasting ever for 24 hours at a time! It is all individual if you are in doubt or do not know where to start, consult a knowledgeable weight-loss specialist, nutritionist, or a good personal trainer who has been successful with implementing different dietary changes with the clients.
- Be sure to have a hearty breakfast with foods that give you a feeling of fullness for a long time (proteins and fats, such as eggs with avocados, sausage, and roasted Brussel sprouts). See my recipes for some suggestions or check out my 7-Day Thyroid Detox Plan.
- Light Intermittent Fasting. Fasting, especially fasting for 14 hours/ eating within 8-10 hr window (14/10 or 16/8) lowers leptin levels and improves the response to leptin. I do not recommend fasting longer 14/8 a day. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Some people can only do 12/8 hour fasting and that is ok. If IF makes you feel worse, then it may not be the right strategy for you or you may need to decrease the number of hours that you are fasting to 12 hours overnight and eat within an 8-hour window.
- Do not use in your cooking processed vegetable oils, such as corn, soy, safflower, walnut, flaxseed, peanut, and canola oils.
- Your goal is to get 50-60% of calories from healthy fats, 20% from protein, 20% from complex carbohydrates that can be found in non-starchy vegetables and a few fruits. It’s not enough just to fast for 16 hours with interval fasting, it is also important to eat properly for 8 hours.
- LIght to moderate exercise depending on where you are at in your health journey.
- Physical activity lowers leptin levels and boosts metabolism. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is great for losing weight, but it’s not suitable for everyone because of the high cardiac load. It is best to do sports in the morning – metabolism starts and is active throughout the day.
- The regulation of leptin levels occurs in the brain during deep sleep and starts before midnight. Going to bed later than 11 pm makes you extra hungry the very next day, and you notice yourself reaching for cookies and cakes and other simple carbs making you overeat.
- Go to bed before 10:30 pm, ideally even earlier going to bed, will help immensely to regulate and combat leptin resistance. Get enough sleep. Healthy sleep is often ignored as a factor in weight loss.
What NOT to Eat:
- Dairy products, except for occasional goat and sheep dairy products.
- All nightshades, especially if you experience joint pain.
- Grains. The only exception is quinoa 1-2 times a week.
- Soy and soy products.
- No legumes.
- All sweeteners (except stevia, a tiny bit of honey or monk fruit).
- Fruits, except seasonal and preferably growing locally.
Foods that Decrease Total Body Inflammation:
- Meat from grass-fed animals.
- Seeds and nuts.
- Sources of fat: coconut and ghee, duck and beef fat, bacon, macadamia oil, avocado oil and olive oil, raw cream, healthy animal fats for frying (tallow, lard, etc.)
- All the vegetables that are tolerated. Most green veggies, and all other colors of the rainbow colors to increase the phytonutrients consumed naturally.
Have you had to deal with leptin resistance?
What helped you overcome the stubborn weight gain?
What made the difference?