What Is Leptin Hormone And What Does It Do?
Leptin is a hormone that has been hailed as the miracle cure for obesity. Evidently, it does everything from making us feel full to stopping our cravings to burning fat to regulating our blood sugar levels, But just what is it and what does it do?
You will probably have heard of insulin resistance, which takes place in people who have a pre-diabetic condition. Basically, if not addressed, this condition will develop into type 2 diabetes. It now seems, however, that we can also develop leptin resistance.
“Research has found that excess body fat can cause a condition known as leptin resistance, which means your brain isn’t affected by leptin even though your body contains higher levels of it.” – Women’s Health Mag
Leptin is responsible for controlling your appetite. This means that if you become resistant to it, you will continue to feel hungry even if you don’t. Your leptin levels will then continue to rise, which is believed to be harmful for your body as well.
Leptin Is a Natural Reward System
Leptin is, effectively, a reward system. It tells you when you should eat and when you do, you feel good. If, however, you are resistant, you will always feel hungry even if you have just eaten. Leptin resistance is described by some as “brain starvation,” because even if you are morbidly obese, your brain will still feel as if you are absolutely starving. This is because the reward system leptin offers doesn’t work properly anymore.
“When your leptin levels are low, food is even more rewarding. When your leptin levels are high, that’s supposed to extinguish the reward system so that you don’t need to eat so much, and food doesn’t look nearly as good.” – Web MD
And, if you are resistant, your leptin levels can go higher and higher, and food will continue to look great. Since there is no leptin ceiling, no amount above which leptin can climb before our body simply cannot produce anymore, these levels will only grow and grow without ever being used.
Leptin Makes You Feel Hungry or Full
As you can see, leptin is responsible for you knowing whether or not your stomach is full, which means that your body has received enough nutrients to be able to cope with the rest of the day. Whenever you say you “feel full,” it is actually the leptin talking. You cannot see inside your stomach or inside your bloodstream, after all. The way leptin does this is by stimulating the various receptors that are found in the part of the brain that regulate hormone production, which is the hypothalamus.
“When present in high levels, it signals to our brain that we’re full and can stop eating. When low, we feel hungry and crave food.” – Nutrition Wonderland
So does this mean we should all start taking leptin in order to lose weight? Unfortunately not, as it is a hormone, which means it cannot simply be eaten. It could potentially be injected, but leptin doesn’t exist in that way yet. Furthermore, the key is resistance: if you are already resistant, then adding more leptin won’t do anything. Instead, you need to break through the resistance, which is done through dieting.