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The Girlfriend's Guide To Leptin

Meet the hormone that tells your brain “I’m full!” But what if your body isn’t listening? You could be leptin resistant.

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Kim Ryu
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Hormones cause such wondrous and hellish things — making small humans, crying at commercials, creating stray body hairs. If you feel hungry all the time, have a high concentration of belly fat, and can’t seem to lose weight no matter how hard you try, you may be able to pin that on a particular one: leptin.

Leptin is the hormone that tells us we’re full. It’s produced by fat cells and communicates satiety to the hypothalamus part of the brain. As fat levels rise, leptin levels also rise, signaling us to stop eating — our metabolism kicks in and we burn fat faster. After not eating for a while, leptin levels drop and our body feels tired to conserve energy.

This super-efficient process helped cavemen know when to hunt and when to rest. But a lot has changed in the way we eat and live that can disrupt it and create leptin resistance.

People with more fat cells should be getting a major “stop eating!” message from their higher leptin levels. They’re not. Hunger symptoms don’t subside, and the body burns fewer calories to hold onto the fat it thinks it needs.

Doctors have found that adding or subtracting foods, and certain lifestyle changes, can help leptin more successfully bind itself to receptors. If you want to try a leptin reboot:

  • Eat fewer carbohydrates and less fructose
  • Reduce high triglyceride levels
  • Eat more lean protein and healthy fats
  • Consume more soluble fiber
  • Eat less processed foods
  • Get more sleep

A blood test is another way to determine leptin resistance, but because the amount of leptin in your system varies all the time it may not be an accurate indicator. This would be a decision to make with your doctor to determine a true deficiency.

You can find leptin supplements for sale, but research does not support their efficacy. If you’re leptin resistant, taking leptin isn’t likely to help. There are plenty of leptin-based diets online, but again, talk to your doctor first.