Leptin diet may actually help you lose fat

Nidhi Tayal
Nidhi TayalApr 18, 2016 | 11:16

Leptin diet may actually help you lose fat

Internet is abuzz with all new "leptin diet for weight loss" and everyone fighting a losing battle with fat deposits is intrigued by this new wave. Fortunately, it's not a fad, requires no calorific manipulation and doesn't make a fat person graze veggies like ruminants.

Leptin is fondly called as "obesity hormone", also nicknamed as "satiety hormone" or the hormone that burns fat. Acting as an adipostat, an indicator for levels of fat deposits in one's body urging the brain to signal hunger or satiation, leptin levels determines effective fat metabolism leading to weight loss.


Biochemically speaking, leptin is a protein manufactured in fat cells (adipose tissue or stored fat) that circulates in the bloodstream and reaches the brain to deliver an important message. Leptin levels signals to the brain as to how much energy reserve (fats) is present in the body. It makes one eat less if leptin levels are high in the bloodstream. Enhance your leptin sensitivity and relish the success of weight loss.

Shedding those extra kilos never looked this easy but there's a catch.

It's often seen that while on a diet, one effortlessly accomplishes a pound or more of weight loss in the first week. But by the second week, they face major cravings and hunger pangs. Sadly, the reason is none other than leptin.

Leptin becomes an issue when your weight loss and fat reduction stalls after following a fixed diet and exercise regimen for a while. If you've been following a low carbohydrate diet and restricting your carb intake to 100-150gm or less per day, you may have lowered your leptin to a point that your body is not able to effectively burn fat. This is because cutting down on carbs intake lowers your overall calorie intake.


Let me explain. Eating less when on a diet makes fat cells lose some fat, which leads to a decrease in the amount of leptin produced. The minute levels of leptin drips in the bloodstream and the brain starts signalling the body to eat more; making you crave more and suffer from endless hunger pangs.

Now, you know why most of the diets failed to give you desired results.

But the solution is here:

1. Count your carbohydrate intake rationally

Personally, I totally discourage those obnoxious no carb diets. Carbs are a must to maintain health, as much as they are required for smooth thyroid functioning, for maintaining electrolyte balance, for production of growth hormone (cortisol) and for efficient burning of fat.


However, excessive carbs/starches specially ones from white flour, potatoes and high fructose corn syrup block the leptin signal. The reduced leptin sensitivity keeps sending hunger signal and you keep indulging in food more. All because high carbs are readily available, provide immediate energy and psychologically, are often the first foods one reaches out to. To count your carbs, I recommend the "plate diet" where carbs and proteins are given equal importance on your plate. The perfect example is dal-roti that Indians have been eating forever. Junk like diet chips, sodas, flavoured fruit juices, chocolates, muffins, cakes, bagels, mathris, samosas should are an absolute no-no.


2. Include a rich protein source in breakfast everyday

Ditch those aaloo parantha, honey-laden waffles, and time-saving jam bread on the go; instead include an egg white omelette, cottage cheese (paneer) sandwich, and soy chop to keep you full for a long time.


This practise will increase your metabolic rate by 30 per cent. Always keep in mind that a healthy breakfast should ensure your ability to curb all cravings till lunch and doesn't make you feel low on energy to carry on with your days work.

In short, a good quality protein keeps you feeling full for at least five-six hours. Low GI (glycemic index carb like whole cereals) and fibre-rich fruits - vegetables should accompany the recommended protein source. It is important to eat all components of food for wholesome health.

3. Eat small three meals a day, avoid in between snacking

Obese people should restrain from indulging in the in-between snacks; they should rather eat three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). This practise keeps the circulatory system clear of any extra fat, allowing the leptin signal system to work effectively.


The urge to snack is efficiently taken care of by the liver itself which is the site for breaking down fat metabolism. It metabolises fat deposits and provide the required energy to the body.

Simultaneously, leaving a gap of five-six hours in between meals helps clear triglycerides from the bloodstream and this naturally kick-starts the weight loss process. Portion control is a must like in case of any other weight loss diet.

4. Do not eat large meals

As much as it is important to include all food groups in daily diet, it is equally important to indulge in smaller portion sizes. Chew properly and eat slowly. Psychologically, it is more rewarding to eat slowly because it saves you from indulging in self-pity over food deprivation and gives you more time to enjoy the same amount of food.


Focus more on protein source and finish eating when slightly less than full. Within 15-20min of finishing your meal, leptin signal starts working and body metabolises fat deposits better. If, however, you keep eating meals frequently, you develop leptin resistance leaving you trapped into a vicious circle of wrong leptin signalling, indicating pseudo starvation. The leptin resistance keeps sending out hunger signals making you eat endlessly, thus, leading to weight gain instead of weight loss.

5. Eat early dinner and not a morsel after that

It is advised to eat dinner three-four hours before you hit the bed. Leptin levels peak in the evenings. This means that compared to any other time of the day, leptin helps burn maximum fat during late evenings. This phenomenon also explains those insatiable cravings make you hog on cookies, chips, chocolates, et al. Once done with dinner, cravings tend to subside and let leptin work in your favour. Eating frequently can sabotage your weight loss efforts.


Swept away by this new wave, shelves in pharmacies are full of leptin supplements. But let me burst the bubble. Leptin cannot be ingested orally; it has to be manufactured in fat cells. Nevertheless, to jumpstart leptin sensitivity add a rich protein source in breakfast and focus on leafy greens, fibre-rich foods that provide longer satiety. Including fish in daily diet also works wonders to enhance leptin production.


So, to sum it up, eat clean, indulge in whole foods, eliminate refined foods, consume proper ratios of carbs, fats and proteins and exercise on a regular basis. This will fix take care of your major hormonal problems and enable you to lose weight effectively. This lifestyle keeps the hormone leptin in check for your metabolism to work and keep your appetite in check.

Last updated: April 18, 2016 | 11:16
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