Leptin: The Appetite Signalling Hormone You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

When you’ve had enough to eat and experience the ‘I’m satisfied’ feeling, you can thank the hormone leptin. Leptin signals to the brain that the body has sufficient energy stores so you can put down the knife and fork. Leptin also increases energy expenditure or calories needed during a day. So it’s a really important hormone for weight control. But its operation is more complex and complicated than first thought. High leptin levels are linked to high blood pressure, weight gain, heart disease and blood sugar dysregulation. It’s also tied to that other fat storage hormone - insulin. In the obese, leptin can become resistant and the signalling mechanism out of whack. The message ‘I’m full’ doesn’t get through. If you are leptin resistant you’ll constantly feel hungry.

Why does leptin become out of balance?

There are several reasons why leptin, and other hormones, become unbalanced. Leptin is affected by:-

  1. Stress. Stress has a negative effect on leptin. The higher the stress levels, the greater the leptin resistance.
  2. Excessive exercise. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. Too much exercise may contribute to leptin resistance.
  3. High fructose consumption. You might think you’re being healthy but if your food is high in fructose, your leptin levels will rise. For example, many smoothies, flavoured yoghurts and high sugar fruits will push up your leptin levels.
  4. Sleep. Lack of sleep is bad news for leptin levels.  

  How to promote healthy leptin levels

  1. Seek out mindfulness and meditation practices. This will reduce stress and improve wellness. It may take time to find the right practice and teacher but it’s worth finding an approach that meshes with you.
  2. Stop the exercise mania. Cardio and HIIT training has its place but not every day and for hours on end. This just places another stress on the body. Consider Pilates or a brisk walk with small hand weights while listening to nature.
  3. Eat good fats and quality proteins. Combine good fats, proteins and vegetables in every meal. There are many suggestions in The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet book. Consume smart carbs at breakfast and lunch including sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroots, carrots and peas. Reduce fruit consumption to two pieces of fruit per day for 4 weeks and choose from apples, pears and berries.
  4. Don’t compromise on your sleep. Healthy people prioritise their sleep. They choose when to go to bed, what they eat and make time in their day for exercise, walking or mediation. They know that it makes them a vital, energized, productive person.

If you want to learn more about leptin or find out how hormones are making you chubby, moody and tired, click here for a free sample chapter. /healthy-hormones/  

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