In the United States there are few health issues quite as common as obesity. With nearly 40 percent of American adults being obese the severity of the issue is apparent. Hormonal dysfunction, particularly relating to leptin, is an exceptionally common and influential element of unhealthy weight regulation. Learning of leptin’s influence on weight and understanding how to best support its function is a key component of resolving obesity at both the individual and broader societal level.
Leptin and Leptin Resistance
Leptin is a hormone that informs the body when it should be storing or burning fat. As the body acquires fat the amount of leptin circulating in the bloodstream increases. Unsurprisingly, many obese individuals suffer from increased leptin levels due to the excess fat that they carry. In a healthy system, an increase in leptin promotes sensations of fullness and informs the body that it should not store fat. However, when levels of leptin are maintained at a high level for an extended period the body can develop a resistance to leptin. This can result in weight-related dysfunction.
Reduced leptin receptivity makes the hypothalamus think that fat stores are depleted and should be restocked. This triggers the release of various hormones that inhibit fat utilization, encourage fat storage, and promote sensations of hunger. As fat continues to accumulate, leptin levels also rise which causes a subsequent worsening of leptin resistance and its associated weight-related issues. This cycle of decline can have a dramatic effect on bodily function and overall wellness.
The Effects of Leptin Resistance
The thyroid and metabolism are closely related with both having a notable influence on weight regulation. Leptin resistance and increased leptin levels can disrupt thyroid function thereby inhibiting weight loss and encouraging weight gain. As leptin resistance develops, signaling from the hypothalamus to the thyroid diminishes. This results in reduced secretion of TSH, slowed T4 to T3 conversion, and elevated levels of reverse T3. An imbalance of these hormones significantly disrupts metabolic function resulting in greater acquisition and retention of fat. It is common for those with leptin resistance to develop thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, which further impedes weight loss.
Causes of Leptin Resistance
Obesity is a leading cause of leptin resistance. Some studies suggest that the majority of overweight and obese individuals suffer from some degree of leptin resistance. Although excess fat is a primary contributor to leptin resistance there are other factors that contribute to its development as well.
Diet also plays a pivotal role in the development of leptin resistance. Consuming a high volume of grains, processed foods, sugars, and other inflammatory foods increases the release of leptin.
Lifestyle factors such as poor sleep quality, elevated stress level, overeating, and excessive exercise can also encourage leptin resistance.
To resolve leptin resistance, patients must employ strategies that attend to these and any other contributing factors.
Treating Leptin Resistance
Leptin resistance creates a cycle of declining hormone receptivity coupled with weight gain making it difficult to resolve. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to improve leptin receptivity while also encouraging weight loss. Some of the best methods of doing so are discussed below.
Improve Your Diet
Leptin resistance is perhaps best resolved by following a well-balanced diet that limits the consumption of processed foods, sugars, grains, and other inflammatory substances. Eating more veggies, proteins, and healthy fats, which promote satiation and are important for hormone building, can further improve leptin resistance.
Making appropriate dietary changes can also improve thyroid, hypothalamic, and metabolic balance. Because they act as critical hormone regulators, improving these systems can help balance leptin levels and alleviate leptin resistance.
When trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to aggressively cut calories with a crash diet. However, doing so can actually be highly detrimental. Extreme calorie restriction can cause a significant decrease in metabolic function that remains defunct even after a healthy diet is reinstated. It is far better to focus on improving nutrient quality.
Reduce Stress by Sleeping More
Stress is a major source of hormonal imbalance. In addition to dysregulating hormones such as leptin, chronic stress can also contribute to sensations of hunger, disrupt energy regulation, and promote greater storage of fat.
A notable contributor to physiological stress is low sleep quality or lack of sleep. Sleep deficiency can disrupt hormone levels thereby contributing to leptin resistance. You can improve your stress level and hormone balance by making sleep a priority. Do your best to get at minimum eight hours of quality sleep every night.
HCG Hormone Therapy
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that can be used in the treatment of various issues including thyroid malfunction, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance. Treatment with hCG increases the production of hormones that activate difficult to use fat stores such as those found in the stomach hips and thighs. Once these caloric strongholds are accessed, patients can safely limit their caloric intake by a significant amount.
HCG treatment plans that employ a highly restrictive diet can be incredibly effective for resolving leptin resistance. However, hCG therapy and a restrictive diet should only be done under the guidance and care of a knowledgeable professional.
Leaving Leptin Resistance Behind
There are many factors involved in weight gain and retention. One of the most common seen among those who are battling obesity is leptin resistance. In every case, leptin resistance must be assessed and optimized depending on individual patient factors. Even though patient-specific plans are important, employing general tips and hormone-supporting practices such as rebalancing diet, alleviating stress, improving sleep quality, and seeking appropriate medical assistance can be hugely beneficial in resolving leptin resistance and reaching a healthy weight.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. If you’re experiencing weight retention and believe your hormones are to blame, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!