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Dietitian names unexpected factor that causes weight gain

Dietitian names unexpected factor that causes weight gain What you need to know about the satiety hormone (photo: Freepik)

During meals, the body produces leptin, also known as the satiety hormone. It signals to the brain that enough energy has been received and it is time to stop eating. However, if there is resistance to this hormone, the stop signal does not reach the brain, and the person simply overeats, leading to unnecessary weight gain, according to dietitian Oleh Shvets.

What you need to know about the satiety hormone

"Leptin is sometimes called the satiety hormone or even the hunger hormone because it plays an important role in regulating appetite and key components of the energy balance," says the doctor.

Leptin signals to the brain when the body needs food or when satiety occurs. This hormone also participates in other processes such as metabolism, endocrine regulation, energy homeostasis, and reproductive and immune functions.

The main role of leptin is long-term energy regulation, taking into account the amount of calories eaten and burned, as well as the amount of fat accumulated in the body. Some people have leptin resistance, so they do not feel full promptly. This characteristic significantly increases the risk of obesity.

Leptin should signal that the body has already received enough energy. If there is a problem with this signal, there may be leptin resistance.

What is dangerous about resistance to this hormone

Leptin resistance is recognized as one of the key biological factors in obesity. People with obesity have many fat cells. Since fat cells produce leptin in proportion to their size, these individuals have a very high level of leptin.

With leptin resistance, the brain is less sensitive and does not receive or recognize the signals that reach it.

The reasons for resistance can include:

  • fewer leptin receptors in the brain
  • leptin receptors not functioning properly
  • reduced amount of leptin crossing the blood-brain barrier
  • mutations in the leptin gene

"Despite high levels of leptin in the body, the brain may not notice it. Then, it considers that the body is starving, even if it has accumulated more than enough energy. This forces the brain to change behavior to restore fat stores," says a dietitian.

How resistance affects nutrition

Leptin resistance can be one of the reasons why diets do not contribute to long-term weight loss. When losing weight, fat mass decreases, leading to a significant reduction in leptin levels. However, this may not affect leptin resistance.

"When leptin production decreases, a person feels hungry or has an increased appetite, a decrease in motivation for exercise, and a decrease in the number of calories burned at rest. The brain believes that the person is starving and initiates various powerful mechanisms to restore lost fat. This may be the reason why a person initially loses weight and then gains it back," says Shvets.

How to overcome leptin resistance

To avoid insulin resistance, you should:

  • avoid processed foods. Consuming highly processed foods can cause inflammation and increase leptin levels
  • consume soluble fiber
  • engage in physical exercise, which can stabilize leptin levels and hunger sensations
  • get enough sleep. Too little sleep can increase leptin levels in the body, which can lead to other conditions such as diabetes
  • monitor triglyceride levels
  • consume enough protein.

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