General Practice 2022

Leptin: what é, why it might be high (and what to do)

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Leptin: what é, why it might be high (and what to do)
Leptin: what é, why it might be high (and what to do)

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells, which acts directly on the brain and whose main functions are to control appetite, reduce food intake and regulate energy expenditure, allowing to maintain body weight.

In normal situations, when the body has many fat cells, there is an increase in the production of leptin, which sends the message to the brain that it is necessary to reduce food intake in order to control weight. Therefore, when leptin increases, there is a decrease in appetite and the person ends up eating less.

However, in some people the action of leptin can be altered, which means that, even if you have a lot of accumulated fat, the body does not respond to leptin and, therefore, appetite regulation does not occur and the person continues to have a lot of appetite, which makes weight loss difficult.

Knowing how to improve leptin action can be a good strategy to lose weight once and for all.

Normal leptin values

Normal leptin values ​​depend on sex, body mass index and age:

  • Women with a BMI of 18 to 25: 4.7 to 23.7 ng/mL;
  • Women with a BMI greater than 30: 8.0 to 38.9 ng/mL;
  • Men with a BMI of 18 to 25: 0.3 to 13.4 ng/mL;
  • Men with a BMI greater than 30: normal leptin value is 1.8 to 19.9 ng/mL;
  • Children and youth aged 5 to 9 years: 0.6 to 16.8 ng/mL;
  • Children and youth aged 10 to 13 years: 1.4 to 16.5 ng/mL;
  • Children and youth aged 14 to 17: 0.6 to 24.9 ng/mL.

Leptin values ​​may also vary according to he alth status and may be increased by the influence of inflammatory substances or hormones such as insulin or cortisol, for example.

On the other hand, other factors can decrease leptin levels such as losing weight, prolonged fasting, smoking or the influence of hormones such as thyroid or growth hormone.

How to know your leptin levels

Leptin levels are evaluated through tests that must be requested by the doctor or nutritionist and is done through blood collection.

To perform the exam, you must fast for 12 hours, however, some laboratories, depending on the method used, request only 4 hours of fasting. Therefore, the fasting recommendations should be checked in the laboratory before taking the exam.

What it means to have high leptin

High leptin, scientifically known as hyperleptinemia, usually occurs in cases of obesity, because as you have many fat cells, leptin production is always increased, when this happens, the brain starts to consider leptin high normal and its hunger-regulating action is no longer effective.This situation is known as leptin resistance.

Furthermore, eating foods such as industrialized, processed, canned, high-fat or sugar-rich foods, for example, can cause inflammation in cells, which also contributes to leptin resistance.

This resistance leads to increased hunger and reduced fat burning by the body, making it difficult to lose weight.

Relationship between leptin and weight loss

Leptin has been referred to as the satiety hormone, this is because this hormone, when produced by fat cells and the brain, understands the leptin signal to reduce appetite and increase fat burning, weight loss occurs quickly. easier way.

However, when there is an exaggerated production of leptin, the brain fails to understand the signal to stop eating and acts in the opposite way, increasing hunger, making it difficult to lose weight or increasing body weight, this mechanism being characteristic of leptin resistance.

Some scientific studies have been carried out to try to improve communication between fat cells that produce leptin and the brain so that leptin can be used efficiently, favoring weight loss in obese people. However, further studies are still needed.

What to do when leptin is high

Some simple ways to reduce and normalize high leptin levels and reduce resistance to this hormone, contributing to weight loss are:

1. Lose weight slowly

When there is a sudden weight loss, leptin levels also decrease quickly and the brain understands that it is going through a food restriction phase, and in this way it stimulates the appetite. This is one of the main reasons for giving up the diet, as there is an increase in hunger, and greater difficulty in maintaining the lost weight.Thus, when losing weight slowly, leptin levels gradually reduce in addition to acting correctly and appetite control becomes easier.

2. Avoid foods that cause leptin resistance

Some foods such as sugar, sweets, high-fat foods, canned and processed products can cause inflammation in the cells and lead to leptin resistance. In addition, these foods increase the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

3. Follow a he althy diet

By eating a he althy diet, the body receives all the nutrients it needs, which causes a natural tendency to decrease appetite. Here's how to eat a he althy diet.

4. Do physical activity

Physical activities help reduce leptin resistance, helping to control appetite and increase fat burning. For he althy weight loss, it is recommended to do 20 to 30 minutes of walking every day, along with a he althy diet.It is important to have a medical evaluation before starting physical activity and, especially for obese people, a physical educator should be followed up to avoid exaggerated efforts and risk of injuries that can discourage weight loss.

5. Sleep well

Some studies show that not getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep can reduce leptin levels and cause increased appetite. In addition, fatigue and the stress of not getting enough sleep increase levels of the hormone cortisol, making it difficult to lose weight.

See in the following video how leptin can be regulated during sleep to lose weight.

Some scientific studies with leptin supplements show that the various nutrients in the supplement help improve leptin sensitivity and promote satiety. However, studies are still needed to prove the effectiveness of these supplements. Check out the best supplements to help you lose weight.

Similarly, studies with intermittent fasting in rats have shown a reduction in leptin levels, however, the effectiveness of intermittent fasting in humans is still controversial, and further studies are needed.

What is the difference between leptin and ghrelin

Both leptin and ghrelin are hormones that regulate appetite. However, ghrelin, unlike leptin, increases appetite.

Ghrelin is produced by stomach cells and acts directly on the brain, and its production depends on nutritional status. Generally, ghrelin levels are highest when the stomach is empty, which stimulates the production of ghrelin, which signals the brain to eat. Ghrelin also has the highest levels in cases of malnutrition such as anorexia and cachexia, for example.

Ghrelin levels are lower after meals and especially in obesity. Some studies show that high levels of leptin influence the production of ghrelin, reducing the amount of ghrelin produced.

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