Why is it easier to gain weight that to keep it off? I get this question so often, and the key lies in the fat cells where a powerful hormone, called Leptin, is produced that regulates your metabolism to store or to burn fat.
In this post, I will show you why this powerful hormone called Leptin (or the rather the lack thereof) can cause people to gain back all the weight they lost. I will also show you why overweight people are often Leptin resistant, making weight loss even more difficult. And what would my post be without giving you a solution?
Sadly research shows us that more than eight out of ten people who lose weight end up regaining all that weight and some more. One of the biggest reason for this can be contributed to the body’s metabolic thermostat call Leptin. When people lose weight, Leptin production decreases, which in return causes people to regain their lost weight.
This hormone called Leptin comes from your fat cells, which means if you lose fat, automatically your Leptin levels drop. The converse is also true when you gain weight, your Leptin levels increase. After Leptin is released by fat cells, it travels to your brain where it controls eating behaviour that decreases your appetite. In other words, when Leptin levels drop, you get hungry, and when they go up, you feel full.
The primary role of Leptin is to stop you from losing weight, rather than helping you to lose body fat.
So, the body has to fight much harder against losing weight than it does against gaining weight; that is why most people find it so much easier to gain weight than to get lean.
If only there were a magic pill to increase Leptin, but unfortunately there’s not. The more practical solution is to follow a diet cycling your calories and fat intake throughout the week, this is where Intermittent Fasting and the Protein-Sparing Modified Fast come in handy. On the days where you eat increased calories (obviously from fat and protein), Leptin levels rise as well. In other words, you have your standard higher calorie days cycling this with either the Protein-Sparing Modified Fast or Intermittent Fasting or a combination of both. This will increase your metabolic set point and also increases leptin sensitivity.
I don’t want you to think that having extra fat necessarily creates more Leptin; because this is where it gets interesting. People that are overweight are also often Leptin resistant. This then further supports obesity, overeating and low energy expenditure. Leptin resistance happens because of overexposure to high levels of Leptin, which means the body no longer responds to Leptin. Overexposure of Leptin is caused by Leptin surges. Leptin surges come from eating a diet full of refined sugars, high in carbohydrates and processed foods.
The best way to prevent Leptin resistance is to focus on nutrient-dense, unprocessed whole foods like animal proteins and fats, especially those high in Omega-3. EPA found in Omega-3 fish oils is especially good at stimulating Leptin and can be found in foods such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and Herring. Zinc is also helpful in stimulating Leptin and can be found in foods like oysters, free-range red meat seafood and free-range chicken.
To summarize some tips to combat Leptin resistance:
- Overfeed yourself with about 400-600 calories once-per-week. These calories should come from fat and protein and not carbohydrates
- Eat foods high in Omega-3, or supplement with a good Omega-3 supplement.
- Eat foods high in zinc, or supplement with a quality zinc supplement.
If you want to see what supplements I am using, read this blog where I talk about all the Keto-complimentary-supplements I recommend for optimal health.