Meet your two “weight-loss” best buddies — leptin and ghrelin! They are two of the body’s most important hormones for weight loss. Leptin controls your appetite and whether or not you feel hungry. It also plays a major role in regulating metabolism and energy levels because it controls how much energy cells can take in and store. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes you feel like you’re hungry; once you eat, it decreases for several hours.
Leptin’s effect on your body and appetite depends on the level of leptin that results from your diet. If you have lower than normal levels of leptin, you can eat constantly but not feel satiated. Ghrelin determines the amount of time it takes for us to feel hungry again. With low ghrelin levels, you don’t feel hungry so you’re less inclined to eat. In someone with functioning levels of leptin and ghrelin, the two hormones act off of one another meaning that while one increases, the other decreases and vice versa.
Leptin originates in your adipose, also known as fat, cells. It secretes out of the adipose cells, travels into your bloodstream and eventually to your brain. When it gets to your brain, it tells the brain that your stomach is full and you don’t need to eat anymore. Leptin doesn’t travel to your brain instantaneously; this is why you should wait about twenty minutes before going for seconds helpings. That’s about the amount of time it takes for leptin to arrive at your brain.
Since leptin is secreted from adipose cells, the more adipose cells one has, the higher amounts of leptin in the body. Since higher levels of leptin have been linked to numerous health issues – like heart disease, stroke and diabetes – it’s important to try and get your leptin levels back to normal levels.
Are you ready to boost your metabolism? Your friends, leptin and ghrelin are on your side.
Leptin isn’t something that we can increase with a vitamin or supplement. In fact, companies advocating and selling leptin supplements are exaggerating their claims. That’s because our bodies can’t actually process leptin; it’s too much for our intestines. Furthermore, leptin isn’t found in foods so we can’t naturally supplement it either.
Below we’ve listed certain foods and changes that aid better leptin and ghrelin functioning. Remember to choose a plan, better yet, let your body choose a plan and stick to it. Here’s a simplified version of the Real Raw You Plan.
Real Raw You: Hormone Reset Plan
If you want to start making changes, here’s where you can start!
WHAT TO EAT:
Protein: Eating a breakfast high in protein is a great way to start leptin production for the day. Protein keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time so you won’t experience that mid-morning urge to snack.
Fiber: Eating foods high in fiber, like leafy greens, vegetables, and fish will also keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. Fiber is also important because it helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract. Here is a great list of foods high in fiber.
Zinc: According to a study by the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, when you have low levels of zinc, your leptin levels may also be low. So eat up on this zinc foods! Some high zinc foods are seafood, lamb, spinach, and cashews.
Water: Increasing our water intake is something that doesn’t require a huge dietary overhaul; it’s easy to implement and makes a big difference.
WHAT NOT TO EAT:
Fructose (include High Fructose Corn Syrup: Leptin doesn’t work well with foods high in fructose because it inhibits your leptin receptors. Fructose is often found in processed foods made up of fake chemicals and preservatives. When you eat these types of foods, your body doesn’t get an accurate reading so it thinks you’re still hungry. On top of that, processed foods are full of empty calories which lack important nutrients.
Carbohydrates: Starchy foods like potatoes, white bread and rice should be avoided because they spike your insulin levels. Similar to processed foods, they often don’t contain nutrients either.
Snacking: When you eat a high protein, high fiber diet you shouldn’t be hungry, so the bigger question is why are you snacking? Eating too often could be a culprit affecting your leptin levels. We wrote an article recently explaining how when you eat can impact your weight.
Artificial Sweeteners: Similar to processed foods, sweeteners are full of chemicals and don’t add any positive benefits to your health. Skip the fake ones. If you want to add sweetness, stick with natural sweeteners like brown sugar.
WHAT WOULD BE FUN TO ADD:
In addition to dietary changes, there are also life changes that you can implement that stabilize your leptin levels:
Sleep 8-hours: Our bodies repair themselves while we’re sleeping so it’s important to get at least eight hours of sleep
Personal Freedom: Are you eating for emotional reasons or are you eating to nourish your body? Is what you eat impacting your mood? Check out our article on neuro-hacks to increase happiness.
Burst Exercise: Burst movement that “awakens” your heart rate plays a big role in leptin hormone stabilization. Burst exercise is a synonym for a start-and-stop anaerobic exercise such as sprinting or jumping as fast as you can. We recommend doing eight energetic burst (i.e. jumping jacks) and low-impact (i.e. walking or yoga) steady state exercises as a regular practice.