What Is Leptin And Does It Help Women Lose Weight?
Leptin is not a wonder drug or a diet aid. You might have heard that women can lose weight with leptin but scientific findings say otherwise. Learn more about this natural substance in the body.
What is Leptin?
Leptin is your body’s natural hunger regulator. It is a hormone which sends signals to the brain telling you when to eat. Scientists believe that everyone is born with a natural level of leptin; a personal threshold. When this discovery was made more than two decades ago, it sparked interest in the idea that additional leptin could help people lose weight. But that’s not the case. Here is how it affects your weight loss efforts.
What Leptin Does
When your body is hungry, this means the amount of leptin has increased, but why does that happen? People need food to survive but if they were never hungry they might not eat. Leptin is stored in fat cells which you lose as you diet or exercise; it’s stored energy. When the number of leptin hormones decreases, your system says to the brain “I’m hungry” because it’s afraid you will starve. The dieter will eat more food, even if fat loss is an ideal goal. This is the reason you are hungry at night or between meals and a good reason to resist temptation. You don’t actually need food and you are not starving.
Eventually your body will become accustomed to your new state where there are fewer fat cells around, but it takes time and you will have to endure some hungry hours in the meantime. Athletes certainly require more fat in their diets since they routinely burn those fat cells, even at rest. Overweight people do not burn very many cells at rest, especially if their muscle density is low. Women get a particularly bad deal in this case because their muscle content is lower than those of men, which is why men burn more fat than women, even if they don’t exercise any more than their female friends.
Adjusting your hormone levels takes time. Let your body get used to the fact that it’s not going to get any more food or that the fat content of your diet is lower now. For a while it’s going to think you are starving it and will release more leptin to compensate, part of the reason for that plateau many people experience as they approach an ideal weight. Scientists have realized there is no limit to how hungry the brain can think you are and it does not recognize when you are overweight. That’s up to the individual to figure out for herself.
A leptin supplement is only going to cause weight gain, not help you lose. Yes, this is the central tool in your body’s hunger detection system, but you will feel hungrier with more of this hormone running around in your body. Prepare for those difficult times: don’t stock junk food in your house; find support from friends; and possibly seek counseling from a professional to learn what triggers your desire for food you don’t need.