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Leptin is a hormone product by body fat and it controls whether or not you feel full after eating. If you find yourself feeling hungry, even after eating a meal, you could be experiencing leptin resistance.
Effects of Leptin Resistance
Someone with normal leptin function will not feel hunger after eating until it’s time for the next meal. This is because the body secretes leptin when you’ve had enough to eat and tells your brain you’re full. Leptin function is compromised when there is too excess fat tissue in the body. This leads to leptin resistance, which causes feelings of hunger, even if a person already had enough to eat.
When there is too much leptin circulating in the bloodstream the following areas of the body are affected:
- The body’s cells are overwhelmed when there is too much leptin circulating in the bloodstream, and the cells shut down their receptors for leptin, causing leptin resistance. With no leptin getting into cells, the brain never receives the message it is full, and a person is prone to overeating.
- Leptin promotes additional fat storage.
- Leptin also affects fertility, libido, and puberty. Leptin resistance could explain why obese girls are 80% more likely to start puberty earlier than normal.
The Relationship Between High Triglycerides and Leptin
Leptin resistance isn’t the only battle in the fight against overeating. High triglycerides have been shown to block leptin’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (a thin lining that protects the brain) to deliver its satiety signal to the brain.
Sugars and carbohydrate-rich foods such as breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes raise triglycerides considerably, thus blocking leptin’s ability to tell your brain you’re full.
Leptin Resistance Diet
Diet is the first step to normalize leptin levels. Overeating and eating too many sweets and starchy foods can lead to leptin resistance, high triglycerides, and hence the feelings of hunger and intense food cravings. Therefore, the key to unwinding leptin resistance is to adopt a leptin-sensitivity diet that can also help you shed unwanted pounds.
To overcome leptin resistance, try incorporating the following into your diet:
- Ditch the sweets and sodas. Sugar and corn syrup has been shown to directly make the brain resistant to leptin. Sweets also raise triglycerides so leptin can’t reach the brain.
- Eat a lower-carb diet. Starchy foods (pasta, rice, breads, potatoes, corn, pastries, etc.) spike blood sugar and insulin levels. This in turn increases leptin.
- Consume healthy fats such as coconut oil, butter, ghee, uncooked olive oil, avocado, salmon, etc. Adequate, healthy fats turn on leptin’s satiety switch.
- Consider taking a fish or krill oil supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids modulate leptin.
Regular exercise, particularly strength training and interval training, helps to lower leptin levels as well.
Originally published in 2012, this post is regularly updated.