Always hungry? Blame this hormone made by body fat

Question

Why am I hungry all the time when I am already overweight, even shortly after eating a full meal?

Answer

A hormone called leptin, which is produced by body fat, controls whether you feel satisfied after eating.

A hormone called leptin controls hunger

If you produce too much leptin you develop leptin resistance, which makes you hungrier.

When you eat, leptin goes to the satiety center of the brain and helps you feel satisfied. A hormone called ghrelin signals hunger.

Overeating and junk food cause leptin resistance

People who consistently overeat or eat too many sweets and starchy foods make too much leptin. These high levels are dangerous to the brain’s cells. Thus in order to protect itself the brain does not allow leptin into its cells.

This is called leptin resistance and causes symptoms of too little leptin: constant hunger, food cravings, and fat storage.

Leptin resistance mimics low leptin

In a cruel and paradoxical twist, the more you eat and the more junk food you eat, the hungrier you become.

With effort it is possible to break the vicious cycle of leptin resistance and return to a normal appetite.

So how do you beat leptin resistance? Consider these leptin-lowering facts

  • Regular exercise, particularly strength training or interval training, lowers leptin.
  • Eat a lower-carb diet. Sweets and starchy foods (pasta, rice, breads, potatoes, corn, pastries, etc.) spike insulin levels. This in turn increases leptin.
  • Adequate, healthy fats turn on leptin’s satiety switch. Eat healthy fats on a lower-carb diet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids modulate leptin.
  • Overeating causes leptin resistance. Cut sodas and sweets, lower high-carb and processed foods, and add healthy fats to curb cravings.

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