Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells in your body. The word leptin comes from the Greek word Leptos (meaning thin). The amount of leptin released from those fat cells is dependent upon how much fat there actually is. Basically, more fat results in the release of more leptin. Leptin essentially controls your metabolism, hunger, and energy expenditure. A leptin system that is working properly improves brain fitness, mental sharpness, leads to better memory, and enhances mood.
What Controls Leptin?
Simply put the hypothalamus in the brain controls leptin. The hypothalamus is comprised of an elaborate system of leptin receptors. When leptin levels increase, leptin attaches to leptin receptors in the hypothalamus, and your brain sends a signal that you are fueled, or “full,” so to speak. Your metabolic rate will increase as a result of this signal. When leptin levels decrease, the brain thinks you are no longer fueled. Consequently, your brain sends a message that you are hungry, and your metabolic rate decreases. Leptin receptors are mainly in the hypothalamus, but they are also located throughout the body.
So, What Does All This Actually Mean?
What it means is you need leptin levels to be in order if you want to be or stay lean, think clearly, be in a good mood, etc. The longer your body is in a calorie deficit, then the lower your leptin levels and metabolic rate become. What this means is your metabolism slows, and it will be extremely hard to lose that last bit of fat.
On the flipside, leptin can also be your enemy. If you constantly eat excessively above maintenance levels, then the body can become leptin resistant. What this means is your body cannot distinguish that your body fat levels are too high, and leptin receptors are desensitized. The more leptin resistant the body becomes, then the more the body tends to sway towards staying fat compared to lean.
Also, toxins or other stressors in our body can result in leptin resistance. These can range from anything from our diet to lack of sleep.
What can I do to keep leptin levels in check?
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