Leptin is an important hormone which is produced naturally in the body and influences your appetite and weight. It is secreted by the body’s fat cells and is involved in your feelings of hunger and satiety.
Leptin acts as a messenger to the hypothalamus region of your brain, telling you when to eat in order to increase the amount of energy available when stores are low. Leptin also tells your body when you are full from eating. Basically, your appetite decreases when leptin levels rise, and it increases when leptin levels fall.
One major issue associated with this hormone is leptin resistance. Leptin levels in the blood must stay within a certain range in order for leptin to work optimally. When leptin levels go beyond this range, it disrupts the messaging system. The brain receptors become desensitised to the leptin signals and eventually stop responding to them. This makes it very difficult to lose weight as your body is unable to recognise when there is adequate energy available or when you’re full. Consequently, people who are leptin-resistant constantly feel hungry and so are prone to overeating and weight gain.
It’s clear that keeping leptin levels in check is extremely important for your weight management. To achieve this, it’s vital to know what lifestyle factors affect these levels within the body. Sleep, for instance, can significantly influence leptin levels –getting a good night’s sleep will keep leptin at optimal levels. High-intensity interval training is another good way of regulating leptin levels. This type of exercise increases the production of human growth hormone, which puts your body into fat-burning mode and in turn regulates leptin levels.
Another thing to be aware of is your intake of carbohydrates. Try to avoid large amounts of carbohydrates or sugary or high-GI foods, as these will result in increases in insulin and consequently in leptin too. Antioxidants such as taurine and acetyl-L-carnitine may also assist in preventing leptin resistance.
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