Leptin | The hidden secret behind controlling body weight


Do you know that there is a hormone responsible for your feelings of fullness and hunger? Yes, it is leptin.

Nutritionists were especially optimistic upon the discovery of this hormone and thought that weight control became a simple matter.

So, is this true?

Come on with me then -dear reader- to discover in this article the truth about leptin, its effect on our bodies, and how to benefit from it.


What is the hormone leptin?

Fat cells in the body secrete leptin. It then travels through the bloodstream to the brain, especially the hypothalamus.

When scientists discovered leptin In 1994, it became known for its ability to regulate weight in humans and animals.

Because its concentration in blood signals the brain that the body has an adequate store of fat cells -used for energy- leptin is called the satiety hormone.

The satiety hormone leptin is one of the hormones necessary for regulating energy consumption in the body hence, it is also called the “slimming hormone” because of the role it plays in making us feel full.

Moreover, both leptin and ghrelin are known as hunger hormones since they counteract each other’s effects and control how often and how much food we eat.

So, can leptin really be used to treat obesity? That is what we will find out, so stay tuned.


What is the relationship between leptin and obesity?

The primary cause of obesity was thought to be the increase in calorie intake from food compared to calories burnt during physical activity.

Nevertheless, leptin proved to regulate body weight. Its concentration in the blood shows the amount of fat accumulated in the body. The brain receives leptin’s signal and then responds accordingly.

However, if this theory applies to people who are obese and overweight, we would expect them to abstain from food and not feel hungry because they have high levels of leptin which is secreted from accumulated fat cells.

But this does not happen, so why?

Scientists believe that the reason for this is leptin resistance.


What is leptin resistance?

It is indeed one of the main biological factors contributing to obesity. 

Similar to what occurs in insulin resistance, leptin levels rise in the blood, however, the brain cannot detect it.

This causes the brain to believe that the body is starving, therefore, it responds contrary to reality.

The reverse response is:

  1. Feeling very hungry and urging the body to eat more food.
  2. Reducing calorie consumption while resting and hence maintaining energy levels in the body.


What causes leptin resistance?

The reasons behind this resistance are yet to be known, but there are some possible mechanisms, all of which are related to obesity, including:

  • Increased levels in the blood (a principal cause of resistance).
  • Presence of inflammatory signals in the hypothalamus.
  • High levels of free fatty acids in the blood increase lipid receptors in the brain which interfere with leptin signaling.


Treatment of leptin resistance

Treatment of leptin resistance


You can tell if you have leptin resistance or not; The accumulation of fat in the body indicates infection, especially the increase in the abdomen’s circumference.

Even though there is no cure for this resistance, changing the lifestyle and following some natural methods may increase hormone sensitivity, including:

High-fiber grains

Eating fiber-rich grains, especially oat fiber, may help improve gut health and reduce resistance.


Studies show that diets rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fish, improve hormone sensitivity and promote weight loss.

Regular physical activity

Performing regular physical activity helps to increase the sensitivity of the hormone in humans and animals.

Reducing the intake of foods rich in sugars

Diets high in sugars increase the risk of obesity and exacerbate resistance.

Regular night’s sleep

One of the most important factors in regulating hormones is regular, restful sleep at night. Lack of sleep is linked to altered hormone levels and function.


Low level of triglycerides in the blood

A high level of triglycerides in the blood leads to inhibition of the leptin transmitter, which carries the signal in the brain. This consequently increases leptin resistance and the brain’s lack of response.


Increase your protein intake

Eating large amounts of protein may help you lose weight automatically, therefore improving hormone sensitivity.


Cases that need to be injected with synthetic leptin

Some cases need injections to treat severe hormone deficiency in their bodies, and these cases include:

  • Congenital leptin deficiency: leads to obesity, and it is usually detected in children at an early age.
  • Generalized lipodystrophy: This is also a serious and rare condition, characterized by the absence of fat in the subcutaneous tissue and its accumulation in organs.


What is the truth about leptin supplementation?

Most supplements do not contain the hormone, although many are prescribed as leptin pills.

But in fact, they contain a mixture of different nutrients, which contribute to reducing inflammation and thus help increase hormone sensitivity and promote weight loss.

Among these nutritional components are:

  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid.
  • fish oil.
  • Green tea extract.
  • Linoleic acid.
  • Soluble fiber.
  • African mango.


What does the leptin diet mean?

This diet is not much different from other weight management systems. It depends on reducing the amounts of carbohydrates, especially simple ones, and increasing protein and fiber intake.

It is also advised not to eat at least three hours before bed, and to exercise regularly.

How to follow this diet?

It is undoubtedly important to follow some rules for the leptin diet for weight loss, including:

  1. You should eat foods containing 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
  2. Avoid eating three hours before bed.
  3. Eat only three meals a day with no snacks in between; So allow 5 to 6 hours between meals.
  4. Eat fewer carbohydrates, but don’t cut them out completely.
  5.  You must adhere to the specified food quantities, and not eat food unless you feel hungry, and stop eating before you are full.
  6. Make sure you know the calories in your food.
  7. Every meal should contain protein and fiber.
  8. One meal should preferably comprise 400 to 600 calories, with 30% fat, 30% carbohydrates, and 40% protein.
  9. Avoid artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, and soy products.
  10. Drinking plenty of water and eating foods rich in fiber may help fight hunger and treat constipation.

A characteristic of this diet is eating a wide range of vegetables and protein sources, such as fish, poultry, turkey, eggs, cottage cheese, and high-protein legumes, such as oats and lentils.

However, like other weight management systems, the leptin diet imposes restrictions on what and how much you eat.

Therefore, it may not be suitable for children and young teens, as they need high calories.


Biological functions

Not only does Leptin regulate energy and feelings of hunger or satiety, but its role also goes beyond that to regulate many important biological functions, including:

  1. It affects the level of sugar in the blood, so its deficiency may lead to diabetes.
  2. Its deficiency may cause infertility.
  3. Contributes to the formation of blood and vessels.
  4. It plays an active role in heart health, and its deficiency may cause cardiovascular diseases.
  5. Maintains the immune system.
  6. Promotes bone health and bone mineral density.
  7. Helps balance lymphatic organs and T-lymphocyte systems.


In conclusion – dear reader – leptin is one of the greatest biological discoveries and one of the most important energy-regulating hormones in the body, but you must follow a healthy lifestyle for it to give you the best response.


Stay healthy!

Translated by
Dr. Basant Atef

Translator. Dr. Basant Atef

I am a pharmacist with a Ph.D. in microbiology. Passionate about delivering medical sciences to others. I love explaining and researching medical information in both Arabic and English. It always bothered me that medical information in Arabic is so scarce, so I took it upon myself to help change that. So, I specialized in SEO medical content writing as well as medical translation. When I am not working on that, you’ll find me out exploring the world with my two wonderful boys.
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