Our bodies are designed to have their own eating ‘brake systems’. This occurs in the form of a hormone called leptin. It tells your brain that you have consumed what you need, so you feel full.
Once you feel full then you are likely to stop eating. On the other hand, if your leptin system is dysfunctional, your brain will not induce satiation. As a result, you’ll keep eating and overeating until you become obese.
Apart from regulating eating patterns, leptin also plays a role in homeostasis. This is the energy balance that is achieved when a person’s metabolic rate is adjusted.
With this hormone, your body feels hungry when your energy is low thus signaling to you that you need to eat. If you have minimal body fat, leptin also tells the brain that you are hungry, so you are prompted to increase that fat.
Sometimes, however, your brain can’t detect the leptin released from your fat cells. And when this happens one is said to be leptin resistant.
Leptin resistance can make you feel hungry all the time and lead to frequent overeating. Here are ways you can reverse this effect so as to minimize obesity.
How to Fix Leptin Resistance
1. Reduce Fructose and Sugar from Your Diet
In this study, rats were fed on a sucrose only diet for a while and compared with a control group that ate normal meals. It was found that the group with the sucrose-only diet was overweight and was also leptin resistant.
This is a sign that fructose and sugar trigger poor leptin responsiveness. You may also want to minimize the quantities you take through other mechanisms like drinking.
2. Portion Control for Prevention
While leptin resistance leads to overeating, sometimes the overeating causes leptin resistance.
Some people deliberately ignore the cues built in their bodies and continue to eat when full. What this does is it teaches leptin receptors in the body to stop responding to the warnings from leptin. That way, you will always keep indulging.
Alternatively, the problem could be caused by the chronically high levels of leptin, which make metabolic pathways imbalanced. It is better to prevent this vicious cycle in the first place by teaching your brain to be leptin sensitive.
3. Eliminate Processed Foods and Carbs
One of the major causes of leptin resistance is the presence of too many triglycerides in the system. These are unhealthy fats that jeopardize the transportation of leptin to the brain, research shows.
Processed foods rich in carbohydrates have an inflammatory effect on the body. This usually occurs in the hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain responsible for the response to leptin. If it malfunctions, then your system will resist it.
The recommended percentage of carbs (these should be healthy, whole-grain carbs) is about 30% of the meal.
4. Eat Enough Protein
Protein is important in curbing leptin resistance. It is a building block for making hormones in your body.
The habit of consuming protein will thus contribute to an increase in leptin. Protein also has the ability to reduce appetite and could thus lead to greater leptin sensitivity.
Aim for about 40% protein in your meals. This is assuming that you have 400 calories per meal. Go for protein-dense legumes like peas and beans. Alternatively, you may think of it as 30 grams of protein per meal. Get your protein from these healthy sources.
5. Avoid Nighttime Snacking
The problem with snacking at night is it messes up your circadian cycle. Leptin is active based on this cycle, so if you tamper with your sleeping clock, the leptin system too will be ruined.
The liver, which plays a crucial role in metabolizing blood sugar, works best when a person is awake.
Therefore, if you want to fix leptin resistance, use the most natural timings possible. Allow your hormones time to rest before eating again.
6. Make Lifestyle Changes
It is essential for you to take attention away from food. Since you lack internal mechanisms to keep you from overeating, you want to create lifestyle changes that will serve the same purpose.
This implies focusing on other rewarding and physically-demanding activities like exercise, hobbies or competitions.
Having a busy lifestyle can take the focus away from food and make you reset your internal leptin system over time.
7. Do Not Eat Before Going to Bed
As mentioned above, leptin works best during the day. Avoid overburdening it by eating your meals just before you go to bed.
As a rule of thumb, give yourself about 4 hours between your last meal and the time you go to sleep. That way, the leptin system is not forced to go on overdrive.
8. Optimize Your Sleep Patterns
If you have a circadian rhythm that is out of whack, you are likely to develop leptin resistance.
In this study, mice that were jetlagged were analyzed for leptin levels. It was found that the mice which were chronically jet-lagged or had a damaged central clock were bigger than the ones that were normal.
If you shift work or travel a lot, you could be at risk of the condition. If possible, sleep at night and not during the day. Ensure that you get 8 hours of sleep every day.
8. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Since you will have reduced the amount of sugar in your diet and you will be eating small portions, it is likely that you will feel hungry. Fiber will keep you full.
You want your brain not to experience that sense of depravity. Taking plenty of water is also essential to reversing the damaging effects of leptin insensitivity, according to research.
10. Exercise Regularly
Exercise may also be helpful owing to its effects on the hypothalamus in the brain. This means that you are less likely to experience inflammation that is centered on that part.
As a result, the challenges associated with inflammation-induced leptin resistance are likely to go down.
In this study, it was found that the study subjects that engaged in exercise, as well as reduced intake of fat, reported less leptin in their systems.
11. Ensure You Consume Healthy Fats
It is imperative for you to have healthy fat in your system and cut out the unhealthy ones. Some of the typical sources here include nuts, avocados, animal fat, coconut oil and even coconut itself.
These foods are essential in restoring the fat balance in your system and could lead to reduced insulin resistance.
12. Take Omega 3s
As mentioned before, inflammation is a critical component of leptin balance in your body.
Therefore, find ways to curb inflammation, and Omega 3s intake is one of them. Fish oil is one of the richest sources of omega 3. You want to also take chia seeds. If supplementation is not an issue for you, consider taking Omega 3 supplements.
Leptin resistance is caused by too much exposure to the hormone. Therefore, you can reverse it by minimizing the processes that lead to this excessive exposure.
Remedies that curb inflammation like Omega 3s are a sure bet. Likewise, behavior like overeating or consuming too many carbs should also be avoided.
You want to help your system to become sensitive to satiation cues by offering it external alternatives. These include portion control, snacking and changing sleep patterns.
Lastly, exercise regularly to not only fix leptin resistance but also keep your metabolism elevated. Luckily, you can get a full-body workout in 15 minutes using these fat-blasting home workouts.