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Leptin Resistance “The Basics in Weight Loss”


Leptin Resistance “The Basics in Weight Loss”

When it comes to both gaining and losing weight, there are more factors at play than nutrition, exercise and willpower. Whether we like it or not, our hormones play a large role in our body composition and fat storage. One hormone in particular, Leptin, is responsible for driving fat gain or loss in our bodies. When the body becomes resistant to Leptin, it becomes difficult to shed unwanted pounds no matter how much you exercise or how well you eat. This can become quite frustrating.

What is Leptin?

Leptin is a hormone “produced by your body’s fat cells” [1]. The hormone is appropriately referred to as the “starvation hormone” and the “satiety hormone” for this purpose. Leptin sends signals to the brain letting it know when the body is full and no longer hungry. It also lets the brain know when enough fat is stored, and that consuming more food (calories) is not needed. Leptin also plays a role in cognitive function within the brain and affects our immune system and fertility as well. While Leptin plays a role in all these important functions - its main role is to stop us from starving and prevent us from overeating.

If Leptin is Resistant:

When Leptin in our body is not functioning properly, it prevents signals to our brain letting us know when to eat and/or when to stop eating. In many cases this causes weight gain because the fat stores are high but Leptin is telling the brain they are low and that you should keep eating even though you should actually stop eating. This false-signaling can become a negative cycle that will eventually impact your breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature regulation.

Even if Leptin is present - if the brain is not able to recognize it - then it will tell your body "you need to keep eating." This cyclical biological occurrence greatly contributes to obesity. Your brain will not only (falsely) tell you that you should continue to eat more food, it will also burn less calories because it does not think you are consuming enough (calories) for energy expenditure and all excess calories will be stored as fat. This is how weight gain happens in people who have Leptin resistance.

While you might think this is a "mind over matter issue" and you can muster enough willpower to stop over-eating and burn more calories, it is not physiologically possible. Many people who set out to change their eating and exercise habits in order to lose weight often struggle and entirely fail altogether if they suffer from leptin resistance. This leads to another negative cycle of thinking: exercise and clean eating doesn’t work. Many uninformed people tend to go back to their unhealthy habits after failed attempt(s) at losing weight.

How Does Leptin Resistance Happen?

Leptin resistance occurs in a number of ways including but not limited to the following:

What to do if You Are Leptin Resistant:

The first indicator that you are Leptin resistant is an excess amount of fat - particularly around the belly area. Your next step should be to get a hormonal blood panel (lab tests) done and speak with a knowledge doctor about your levels. From there, the doctor might suggest a medical food supplement to help increase the body’s natural Leptin levels. Additional steps you can take include but are not limited to:


Now that you know more about Leptin resistance you can begin to recognize the signs of whether or not you may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance. Additionally, you can visit Weight Loss and Vitality and take the proper steps in order to help start down the path to healing and recovery; which includes long-term healthy and sustainable weight loss.

David J. Bauder, PA-C David Bauder, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant and the medical director at Weight Loss and Vitality in Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, DC. He enjoys helping patients optimize their physical and mental health to improve their overall well-being. He earned his physician assistant degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Afterward, he gained admission into the reputable graduate program for physician assistant studies at the University of Nebraska Health Science Center in Omaha. David has over 25 years of experience working as a physician assistant. He’s practiced in podiatry, family medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, urgent care, and functional medicine.

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