Leptin Resistance: Possible Culprit in Obesity Epidemic

My dear readers,

Today’s article is all about a little hormone called leptin and its role in obesity, diabetes, and overweight conditions. This article may get technical at times, and I apologize for that. I will do my best to explain and discuss leptin in as simple terms as is possible without missing the key details. The source of this article is Authority Nutrition, and the link is at the end of this read. Let’s dive right in.

What is leptin? Leptin is a hormone that is released by the fat cells and is directed toward the hypothalamus. In healthy individuals, leptin tells the brain that you’ve had enough to eat, and that your body is ready to control energy balance (i.e., the exchange of calories in and calories out and the amount of body fat that gets stored long-term).

Leptin Function Diagram

What is leptin resistance? Now, in the case of obesity, the individual has many fat cells that are largely expanded. This means that they produce more leptin than the average person. The abnormally high level of leptin production leads to a down-regulation of the receptors in the hypothalamus that recognize its signal to control energy expenditure. Pretty much what happens is that your brain’s response to leptin “shuts down” and leptin is left floating around in the bloodstream. As a result, the individual over-eats (no signal to stop eating, remember?) and he/she conserves more energy each day.

How did this happen? Good question. It seems that there are three culprits: inflammatory cytokines, elevated concentrations of free fatty acids, and high leptin levels. These interfere with leptin’s signaling to the hypothalamus where it performs its functions.

What can be done about it? Follow the basic recommendations made by the experts as Authority Nutrition as well as the guidelines I’ve written about here on this blog. They are as follows: avoid processed food, eat soluble fiber (e.g., starchy vegetables), get active, sleep (seriously), lower your triglycerides (reduce carb intake or control it at least by saving carbs for after your workout), and eat protein at every meal (one serving is the size of your open palm. One for females and two for males at every meal).

It got a bit technical today, but I tried to break it down as simply as possible. If you find this information of value, let me know. Don’t forget to tell me what else you’d like to know more about. All inquiries are much appreciated.



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