What is leptin resistance?

Leopold D. Galland, MD
Internal Medicine
The hormone leptin plays an important role in appetite control, metabolism and weight loss. It is your body's natural weight control mechanism. The body doesn't always listen to the leptin message and leptin resistance occurs. The leptin signal isn't being heard, so it cannot stimulate your metabolism or suppress your appetite. Leptin resistance can make losing weight very difficult if not impossible.

The typical modern lifestyle contributes to leptin resistance; fast food, little or no exercise, too much stress and not enough sleep.
Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

Scientists have learned that in some people the message of satiety is never heard and then the fat cells send out more leptin which can cause a resistance to leptin which leads to increased food cravings and the desire to continue eating. For others leptin levels can be low due to a zinc deficiency. Adding omega 3’s to your diet will help you stabilize your leptin levels.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The hormone leptin, a protein secreted by stored fat that signals satiety and stimulates you to burn more calories, doesn't always work the way it's supposed to.

In some research, when leptin was given to mice, their appetites decreased just as expected. When it was given to people, they initially got thin -- but then something strange happened: They overcame the surge of leptin and stopped losing weight. That indicates that our bodies have the ability to override leptin's message that our tank is full. How? When leptin tells your defens -- the satiety chemical -- to kick in and protect you against overeating, the pleasure center in your brain says, "Pass those cookies this-a-way."

That surge from the pleasure center, which can overrule leptin's messages that you're full, is called leptin resistance (there's another form of leptin resistance as well, which happens when cells stop accepting leptin's messages).

Most obese people, by the way, have high leptin levels; it's just that their bodies have the second form of leptin resistance -- they don't receive and respond to leptin signals. Also, as you get older, you have fewer leptin receptors in your brain -- meaning that you have fewer satiety signals, which makes you more prone to gaining weight.

That doesn't mean leptin is always on the losing end of this chemical battle. The challenge is to let leptin do its job so the brain demands less food. One way to do it: Walk 30 minutes a day and build a little muscle. When you lose some weight, your cells become more sensitive and responsive to leptin.
YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management

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YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.