Today’s media is constantly bombarding us with information about the ‘obesity time-bomb’ and the hormone you will often read about that relates to weight management is insulin. But, there is another hormone that is equally important when it comes to controlling and losing weight: LEPTIN.
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a hormone produced by your fat cells. It ‘talks’ to the brain sending messages to increase or decrease our metabolism (how we burn food for energy) and signals whether we are full up or hungry.
If your leptin signalling is working properly, when your fat stores are “full,” this extra fat will cause a surge in your leptin level, which signals your brain to stop feeling hungry, to stop eating, to stop storing fat and to start burning some extra fat off.
How Do You Become Leptin Resistant?
You become leptin-resistant by continuous overexposure to high levels of the hormone. If you eat a diet that is high in sugar – especially simple carbohydrates and processed foods – as the sugar gets metabolized in your fat cells, the fat releases surges in leptin.
Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant, just as your body can become resistant to insulin.
The only known way to ensure proper leptin and insulin signalling is to eat a carefully balanced diet with the emphasis on wholefood, good fats and plenty of protein.
Here are my top 5 tips to ensure your brain is receiving the right messages:
1. Eat a breakfast containing protein
Eating protein for breakfast ensures that your metabolic rate remains high for several hours (ie burning off calories). A high-carbohydrate breakfast such as juice, cereal, toast and jam etc does not increase the metabolic rate. This is especially important for individuals who struggle with energy, food cravings, and weight management.
The two signs of a poor breakfast are:
1) You are unable to make it to lunch without food cravings or dips in energy levels.
2) You are prone to strong food cravings later that afternoon or evening.
2. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates you are eating
Carbohydrates are easy-to-use fuels. If you eat too many of them there is no need for your body to dip into its stored energy. It is very important that you eat some carbohydrates.
However, most overweight individuals eat two or more times the amount of carbohydrates they are able to metabolize.
3. Eat three meals a day
Allow 5-6 hours between meals. Do not snack.
Your metabolism is not designed to deal with constant eating and snacking. Doing so confuses your metabolism and results in you eating much more than you really need and invariably you will be snacking on unhealthy foods such as chocolate, sweets, pastries and biscuits – the worst kind of highly processed simple carbohydrate.
4. Never eat after dinner
Try to allow at least 2-3 hours between eating and going to bed.
Leptin levels are highest in the evening hours because of its role in regeneration and repair. It does this while burning fat at the maximum rate compared to any other time of the day. And it does this only if you will allow it, by not eating after dinner.
Often food cravings begin around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and certainly later in the evening. These cravings are powered by a misguided leptin signal to eat, causing strong urges that often overwhelm your will power and self control. Unfortunately the only way to control this is with will power and the sense of satisfaction that you feel when you do not succumb!
5. Do not eat large meals
If you are overweight, always try to finish a meal when slightly less than full, the full signal will usually catch up in 10-20 minutes. Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly is important.
Did you know that Pippa Mitchell, our Nutritional Therapist can design an individually tailored programme for you to help you eat sensibly and healthily whilst losing weight?
Contact her at Luck’s Yard Clinic on 01483 527945 or directly on 07743 572421 to discuss your health concerns.