Leptin, the Hunger Hormone
Leptin is the hunger hormone. It’s produced in the fat cells and is our natural “fat storage regulator.” It informs the brain/body as to whether you’re too fat or too thin. Those parameters are contained in our DNA and evolved as part of our survival mecchanisms. Throughout most of our evolution, we needed a physique which was lean enough to hunt game, escape predators and live a nomadic life. At the same time, we needed to store enough body fat for surviving in the absence of food. Leptin evolved to keep our fat levels just right.
When the body has too much fat, leptin levels are high. You won’t have any appetite, but you’ll feel energetic and want to move. The message is, “You’re too fat! Stop eating, and burn some of this fuel!”
When the body doesn’t have enough fat, leptin levels are low. You’ll be “manipulated” to eat more and move less. The message is,”You’re too skinny! Eat as much as you can and conserve energy.”
These messages function perfectly and keep us in good shape, but only if the brain is able to receive them. If the brain has become Leptin Resistant and can’t “hear” the messages, big problems result because we don’t receive the signals to stop eating. Regardless of how much weight we might be carrying, the brain thinks we’re too thin.
Leptin Resistance is caused by high triglycerides and high glucose in the bloodstream, and those two factors are a direct result of excess carbohydrate consumption.
When the body receives a constant supply of carbohydrates, the metabolism becomes trapped in a “Sugar Burner” cycle. This is covered in detail in the Carbohdrate post, but here’s a quick review:
- High insulin production means that you can’t access your fat stores.
- Low blood sugar levels cause cravings.
- High triglycerides build up in the bloodstream.
- And leptin resistance means that you’re always hungry and lethargic, despite your stored body fat.
Overeating and feeling lazy have nothing to do with willpower or character: they’re symtoms of a dysfunctional metabolism and a breakdown of hormonal function.
If your metabolism is out of whack, you can’t lose weight, you’re hungry all the time and your energy is low, it may well mean that your health needs attention. The good news is that by replacing carbohydrates with healthy fats and complete protein, your genes will reset. This will take about one month.
It can be hard going for the first few weeks. Human beings are complex creatures, and the interplay between food, psychology, hormones, emotions and brain chemicals can interfere with our highest intentions and make changing habits hard.
If you need help, surrender to that. There’s loads of support available, in person and online. Start with my free Health Reset Guide, and contact me for coaching when you’re ready.