What do you know about LEPTIN? The Appetite controlling hormone.

What do you know about LEPTIN? The Appetite controlling hormone.

Our bodies are AMAZING.  I’ve said that before and I truly believe it.  I recently read an article that talks about how we naturally produce a hormone called LEPTIN that regulates our appetite.  How many commercials have you seen pushing products that are designed to control hunger?  Yea, that’s right…we already have that, and it’s FREE!!!  The problem…we’ve hampered it.  When Leptin levels in your body rise, you become full and you stop eating.  The problem is that many of us have become Leptin resistant.  You’ve heard us at Prolean Wellness talk about insulin resistance incessantly, well…Leptin resistance, precedes insulin resistance.  But…guess what triggers Leptin resistance – you got it.  SUGAR!!! And more specifically FRUCTOSE!!!

Dr. Richard Johnson is the head of nephrology at the University of Colorado and has written a book about Leptin resistance and about how what we eat actually blocks our bodies’ ability to burn fat.  The book is called The Fat Switch.  In this book Dr. Johnson talks about how it is a fallacy that the law of thermodynamics, or calories in verses calories out, is what has caused the obesity epidemic in our country.  Dr. Johnson says:

“…what we know is that animals in general will regulate their weight very tightly… In order to gain weight significantly, you actually have to block your sensation of fullness, so that you’re hungry more, and you have to block your energy output. You actually block the ability to oxidize fat to burn fat.”

… For example, most animals have learned how to become fat and how to become thin. They do it in a tightly regulated way… Hibernating mammals will double their weight and fat in the fall in preparation for winter… I realized that I can learn by reading the studies about these animals. As I read them, I had another insight, which had not been appreciated before: That these animals develop all the features of metabolic syndrome that we do. They get fat. They’re visceral fat goes up. They get fatty liver. The triglycerides go up in their blood. They get insulin-resistant… It’s a normal process.

It’s not a disease. This is how animals store fat. It’s part of the fat storage syndrome. I’ve actually proposed (and it’s in press) that the metabolic syndrome really should be called the fat-storage condition, because it’s just fat storage.”

Dr. Johnson found in his study of animals that these animals increase their weight (for winter or hibernation) by consuming fructose.  They eat large amounts of fruit that causes Leptin resistance which enables fat storage.

When you eat fructose, you actually generate more fat in your liver for the same amount of caloric intake, compared to other types of sugar… For example, if you calorically restrict an animal but give it a high-fructose diet or a high-sugar diet, it will still produce fatty liver and will still become insulin resistant. According to Dr. Johnson, fructose has two effects:

  1. It stimulates weight gain through its effects on your appetite and by blocking the burning of fat [or making your body resistant to Leptin].
  2. It also changes your body composition to increase body fat even when you are on a caloric restriction

In a previous article we talked about how Fructose is metabolized in the liver – unlike glucose.  That’s why refined sugars and more specifically High Fructose Corn Syrup are so detrimental to your health.  With our iDXA body composition scan at Prolean Wellness, we can actually see the fatty livers of many of the people who come in with the desire to lose weight.  When we see that red color over the liver area on the scan – we know that more that 60% of that tissue is fatty tissue.  A fatty liver means that fructose was being metabolized in the liver – and the part that was not burned as fuel for the body, turned to fat.

fatty liver scan(The isolated area in red on this scan indicates a body fat percentage of higher than 60% in the area where the liver lies.  This is a visual image of fatty liver as seen by the iDXA body composition scan.  Blood tests usually confirm this posibility. )



Here are 5 points that Dr. Johnson explains in detail in his book that overturn current concepts:

  1. Large portions of food and too little exercise are NOT solely responsible for why you are gaining weight
  2. Metabolic Syndrome is A NORMAL CONDITION that animals undergo to store fat
  3. Uric acid is increased by specific foods and CAUSALLY CONTRIBUTES to  obesity and insulin resistance
  4. Fructose-containing sugars cause obesity not by calories but by turning on the fat switch
  5. Effective treatment of obesity requires turning off your fat switch and improving the function of your cells’ mitochondria

Something that Dr. Johnson talked about that I find really interesting is that if you’re insulin resistant and obese, small amounts of fructose can activate the processes that will keep you fat or make you start to gain weight again. Some of Dr. Johnson’s most recent research shows that the more high-fructose corn syrup you eat, the more you absorb and the more you metabolize it. Thus, eating fruits may be more of an issue if you are insulin resistant, whereas fruit intake is likely safer or even beneficial if you are lean and healthy.

We have actually seen evidence of this concept with Jeff and Celeste.  Before Jeff changed his lifestyle and started losing weight, he was insulin resistant. By pulling out the carbs and sugars, his fasting insulin numbers came down and he was able to burn fat effectively.   Celeste loves sugar – but must have staved off insulin resistance through consistent exercise.   A couple of years after we both lost weight – right after the Christmas holidays where we were not limiting our sugar intake very well, we both had our insulin levels checked again.  Jeff’s levels had gone back up to what we would classify as insulin resistant, while Celeste’s levels were still in the optimal range.  This just goes to show that if you have been insulin resistant in the past – you will need to monitor your sugar and fructose intake more carefully than if you have not.  Probably for the rest of your life!!!

Hopefully from reading this article you will be able to see that the key to losing weight is already in your body.  You just need to let it work the way it was designed.  Our goal at Prolean Wellness is to help you figure out how your body works.  If you’ve been insulin resistant in the past, you will probably need to be even more careful about the sugars you bring into your diet in order to allow your body to burn fat most effectively.

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