Are your FAT hormones responsible for keeping you fat?

fat regulation by hormones

The hormones Leptin and Ghrelin regulate our appetite and fat levels and are involved in determining whether you can keep weight off once you have lost it.

Leptin – a hormone made in your fat cells gives the brain messages about whether the body has enough energy. After eating, leptin is released from your fat stores and signals to the brain that you are full and have energy available. So Leptin acts like a ‘fat’ gauge – it tells the brain when you are hungry and how much fat (stored energy) you have in your body.

When you diet and lose fat you naturally produce less leptin. As your levels fall below a certain level the brain thinks you are hungry and stimulates your appetite. Leptin also regulates the rate at which fat is broken down in your body. As leptin levels increase so does your fat metabolic rate. As leptin levels decrease so does your metabolic rate.

It is now recognised that there is a condition known as ‘Leptin resistance’, similar in nature to insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. When the levels of circulating leptin become too high for too long then the brain switches off and doesn’t recognise it any longer. The result is that the brain stimulates hunger regardless of how much stored fat there is.

Ghrelin, another hormone made primarily in the stomach, increases the amount of fat in the body. Ghrelin increase before meals and decrease after you have eaten. Ghrelin also affects appetite control, and is involved in the regulation of energy in the body. High levels of Ghrelin  make us feel hungry. However in overweight people Ghrelin levels are often abnormal and are often found to be low.

The relationship between leptin, insulin, ghrelin and other hormone regulators is very complex making weight gain and loss a complicated process, more than just counting calories or taking a fat pill to lose weight.

importance of good sleepThe importance of sleep

Not getting enough sleep affects your blood levels of both leptin and ghrelin and as a result your hunger and appetite levels. A recent Canadian study showed that the less sleep an individual obtained every night, the higher the fat indices and the lower the levels of leptin. Not getting enough sleep at night, results in an increased risk of being overweight. Getting an optimal amount of sleep (7-8 hours) doesn’t just keep you alert, it also helps to regulate your weight.

How to lower inflammation and restore fat regulation

Leptin resistance is triggered by inflammation of the immune system. This is most often caused by a chronic shortage of omega 3 fats and an unhealthy lifestyle. Females need a certain amount of fat in their bodies and Leptin is involved in maintaining adequate levels. This hormone is also key in the initiation of puberty and in the level of fertility. Unfortunately this does make women more prone to Leptin resistance.

However there are certain foods which will help to lower inflammation.

Vegetables: cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels, cauliflower, leeks and onions, spinach, garlic, bell peppers and romaine lettuce

Herbs: ginger, cinnamon, green tea, turmeric, aloe vera, Echinacea, chamomile,

Fruit: apples, bananas, blueberries, cherries, oranges

The latest research indicates that leptin and leptin resistance is very much down to lifestyle, i.e. diet, exercise, sleep and stress levels. So the best approach to weight loss is to view your body as a whole and give it good fuel, good exercise and good rest. This will allow your fat thermostat to come back to normal and allow your body to sort out a healthy weight naturally.

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