We’ve heard it a thousand times; the problems sticking to “diets” the food cravings, the need to snack especially at night and no real weight loss results at the end of it all. How many of us though can advise clients that this is not a “will power” issue? This is a far more deep rooted problem and one that has been set upon us by today’s society of processed foods, promoted snacking and an abundance of sugary, refined foods. The CORRECT advice of WHAT to eat and WHEN to eat is not commonly advertised. Quite the opposite in fact and therefore we are living in a society of people desperately fighting battles within a war they will never win until the correct information is spread amongst our population.
What are we talking about?…. Leptin. Otherwise referred to as the master hormone or the satiety hormone and the ever increasing, but surprisingly not well known about, Leptin Resistance.
Leptin was discovered by scientists in 1994 and has since been proved to play a pivotal role in regulating food intake and energy output; in simple terms, it is the fat hormone that tells the brain that there is enough energy stored within the fat cells. It is the master hormone controlling hunger and feelings of satiety and it controls energy and metabolic rate. It is the hormone that causes cravings and overeating ultimately leading to obesity, heart disease, thyroid problems and Type 2 Diabetes.
Leptin is made by fat cells that regulate the amount of fat stored in the body. However, in today’s society with refined foods, heavy starches, sugar in every food source and fast food available on every corner, it is no wonder that Leptin Resistance is now affecting more and more of us, causing the population’s waist line to get bigger and bigger.
Leptin Resistance can occur for a number of complex reasons and is a result of a malfunction of the brains Leptin receptor. Leptin Resistance comes about when the body carries high levels of Leptin but the body does not respond to it as it is supposed to; the receptors have been suppressed by a constant supply of overeating, eating the wrong foods and at the wrong time. It is a direct result of pesticides and an abundance of an unhealthy food supply, not to mention the wrong information promoted about how to lose weight and what diet to follow. It is a sad fact that the Leptin Hormone is not more commonly understood and information on this master hormone is certainly not shared openly with the general public, who instead are left to float from diet to diet, blissfully unaware that with every diet tried, every snack snacked and every weight loss short cut attempted simply creates higher levels of Leptin and ultimately a stronger Leptin Resistance. The problem here is that the longer this cycle is left to continue, the weaker the body’s metabolism is and ultimately, the harder it becomes to lose weight. In fact, the longer this cycle runs, the more weight is actually gained.
Of course weight is initially lost when one embarks on a diet. This is because their calorie intake has been lowered, often to an unsustainable level. This is when Leptin levels are increased and the body reverts to its starvation mode, an evolutionary survival technique; the metabolism is slowed down in a bid to reserve energy and any weight loss grinds to a depressing halt. As the diet itself is completely unsustainable due to the lack of required calories and the increasing strength of food cravings, the dieter then starts eating as they did before the diet started and as sure as night follows day, the body will bounce into the famine recovery mode, retaining enough fat to bring the body back to its original weight, plus holding onto to extra fat in a bid to protect against the next onset of starvation mode. This is commonly known as the yo-yo diet effect; an effect that is completely unavoidable as it is controlled by the body’s hormone levels telling the brain what they believe the body to need.
How to Reverse Leptin Resistance
The only way to beat the cycle is to “fix” the Leptin Resistance; Leptin Resistance is a complex problem with many thousands of research papers available on the subject. However, Leptin Resistance can be reversed over time by following some basic principles. The principles of managing Leptin do vary depending on what research paper is read but overall the do’s and do not’s are generally agreed.
- DO NOT eat starchy, refined or processed foods
- DO NOT eat sugar
- DO NOT eat large meals – never allow yourself to continue eating until you are “stuffed”. It is worth remembering that the “full” signal will catch you up about 15 minutes after you finish eating, so eat slowly and be aware of your portion sizes.
- DO NOT snack – Leptin needs to be given the opportunity to do what it was intended to do; organise the fat intake and set the fat burning process accordingly. It needs time to do this and by snacking throughout the day you are inadvertently breaking the fat burning cycle.
- DO NOT eat after dinner
- DO eat three meals a day – allow at least 5 hours between meals and ideally no more than 6 hours
- DO eat a high protein breakfast – eat breakfast within an hour of waking
- DO allow three hours after dinner before going to bed.
Now, it is all very well having rules to follow but like any rule in life, they are hard to commit to unless you understand why that rule is there. So, when considering the function of Leptin, why is it important to not eat after dinner? This is because Leptin operates on a 24 hour cycle with its highest level peaking in the evenings. This is when Leptin controls the body’s nightly repair and is when the fat burning process is at its greatest. If the three hours has been left to pass between finishing dinner and sleeping for the night, the body will burn fat while sleeping. However, if food continues to be passed through the system with no time permitted for Leptin to organise before one goes to sleep, no fat will be burned from the body. Instead, Leptin levels will be increased, the excess fat in the body will be stored, mainly on the abdomen, thighs and hips and the coming morning will bring with it another day battling with the food cravings all over again.
Night time cravings are in themselves an indication of Leptin Resistance. To succeed in overcoming the cravings that hit hard at night, it is important to have three meals daily in order to manage Leptin properly throughout the day; our metabolism is not designed to deal with a constant supply of food. This is why, to manage Leptin, it is important to have these three daily meals and to leave five to six hours in between each meal with no snacking. It is impossible to eat anything without causing a rise in insulin levels.
Once insulin levels rise, the fat burning process is switched off. So, in a simplified scenario, if for example one has breakfast at 7AM and follows the rules by allowing the five to six hours before eating again, Leptin will use this time to organise the storage of the fat consumed and will control the fat burning process, burning the fat not needed to be stored. However, if a snack is consumed at say 10.30AM, this process has been broken. Insulin levels have been increased and the fat burning process stopped. The fat consumed is then simply stored instead of burned. Leptin levels are then increased and the night time cravings will be back all over again; a vicious cycle that can only be overcome once the principles of managing Leptin are followed.
The longer these principles are followed, the more efficient ones Leptin will run, ultimately leading to weight loss, increased energy levels and better overall health.
Basic Rules Of Leptin Diet – How To Eat To Manage Leptin
The food choices we eat also play a vital role in weight loss. Not just because of the over simplified “burn more calories than you ea”‘ synopsis, but again, because of the effects various foods have on Leptin and how much various foods raise Insulin levels by.
It is important to make the right food choices. By selecting the foods that will fill your body with the nutrients needed to replenish energy levels and maintain these energy levels sufficiently, Leptin will continue to tell the brain that enough fat is stored and will not increase to a level telling the brain to demand a further food supply, which is does by way of a craving.
This can be cross sectioned completely into a new discussion as many doctors and nutritionists advise differently on the amounts of protein that should be eaten in conjunction with red and white meats. All agree though that sugar and sugar replacements, refined foods and processed foods should not be consumed. It is agreed that the body can only generate energy from quality fresh foods and that these foods should only be eaten at set intervals. Any straying from this will only lead to interference of the hormonal function. For far too long, it has been preached that to lose weight is a simple task of eat less, exercise more If it were really this easy then we would live in a world of perfectly proportioned, toned individuals. Unfortunately, whilst the principal is correct, there are far more underlying complexities to consider. Once Leptin Resistance is present, the cravings for food which are demanded by the brain, will always be far stronger than anyone’s willpower to not over eat or to make the correct food choices. However, can this be solely blamed on self-infliction? Not entirely! How widespread is the knowledge of Leptin Resistance? How can one fight against this infliction when all that is publicised is the “cabbage soup diet” the “Acai Berry diet” or the “juice fasting diet”. If the general public are not educated about Leptin and how to eat to manage Leptin, how can this cycle of overeating ever be beaten.
If our supermarkets continue to offer processed and sugary foods as a cheap food supply and with an abundance of fast food restaurants on every roundabout and in every high street with the only other option being a white bread sandwich and crisps from various cafes and coffee shops, how can anyone make the right food choices?! This matter goes beyond any advice given by personal trainers or nutritionists. The people paying for the assistance of such professionals have already taken the decision to improve their health and to educate themselves in the way of fitness and weight loss.
Our Government have already made the move to change the food being offered within schools. It has already launched the Change for Life programme across the country. Why then are people not helped to understand Leptin Resistance?
Take for example a 29 year old woman desperately trying to lose weight and trying every weight loss fad available to her; if the information was freely available to her and the principles explained surely she would be happy to eat good, clean food, avoid processed and refined foods, wait five to six hours between each meal and not sleep until three hours after finishing her dinner. Sounds simple when put like that doesn’t it?! It really is no more complicated than that.
We all know weight loss and fat loss is a huge multi million pound industry. How many personal trainers and nutritionists will it take to get the message out there; weight loss is not about eating nothing but cabbage soup or Acai Berries for 4 weeks. It is a lifestyle change. It is about understanding what foods are going to benefit your body and is about understanding your body and how it works. Our bodies are under the control of our hormones; the master being Leptin. Eat in harmony with Leptin and this master hormone will operate your body to its maximum capacity and have it running like the machine it was designed to be.
Menus for the Leptin Diet
A) For Breakfast
Because of the need for protein in the morning, your first meal of a day can consist of something like:
- Protein Shakes
- Pork Chops
What is more, there are numerous non meat sources for those wishing to stick to a vegetarian diet. Except this, your breakfast should be rich on fiber and you should drink plenty of water as well.
B) For Lunch
Lunch can be a tough time, especially if you are really hungry. The trick is to eat a lot of food with a little caloric intake. This will also aid you with your Leptin production.
- Both a salad and a soup fit these requirements, and can provide an excellent source of nutrients.
- In addition, boiled meat on top is normally a good choice, like chicken or turkey.
- Finally, consider drinking unsweetened tea like black or green one as its antioxidants that will help your body.
C) For Dinner
Dinner ideas should be kept relatively simple.
- Some amounts of protein along with plenty of vegetables will be very helpful for your organism.
- Finally, if you are a fan of dessert, then fruit is the way to go.
- In addition, small amounts of very tasty things like ice cream or whip cream can be included.
The idea is to not overdue it, but to provide a little satisfaction to whatever craving you may still be having.