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Ever since the news of leptin broke in 1994, people have been searching high and low for foods with leptin as well as supplements. Leptin is a protein that sends messages to your brain to stop eating when you are full. It’s no wonder then that manufacturers saw it as the missing ingredient in appetite suppressers and weight loss products. Unfortunately, newer research reveals that the discovery of leptin has more to do with understanding how the body works instead of it being a substance to include in your diet. Nonetheless, the mechanics of leptin are intriguing and knowledge of how it works in your body can help you eat smarter and be in the best shape of your life.
How does leptin work?
It is a protein manufactured by your fat cells. The level of leptin is a direct indicator of how much fat is in your body.
Cells need a certain amount of energy (fat) to go about their daily business and this fat comes from food. When you eat, leptin levels increase and your metabolism kicks into gear to process and transport nutrients and other substances. Feeling hungry is therefore a way your body lets you know it needs more energy. Because your body only needs a certain amount of energy every day, when you’ve eaten enough, signals are sent to the brain to tell you you’ve had enough food. This process happens every single day all day long.
The premise behind eating foods with leptin is to send signals to your brain saying you’re full even when you have eaten less than you usually do. In this way, the metabolism will have to use fat already stored in the cells. If the body keeps using stored fat, you will lose weight, suppress your appetite and avoid going into starvation mode.
Eating foods with leptin
Studies show that overweight people develop leptin-resistance. This is when the brain doesn’t respond to signals sent by leptin anymore. Because communication is cut off, people will keep eating more food because they can’t tell when they’ve had enough. Obese people actually have a high level of this protein. They know when to eat but not when to stop because the loss of the brain’s sensitivity to signals.
Another point is that leptin cannot be digested as leptin when it is ingested. When you eat it in food, it’s processed like normal food and does not have any appetite-suppressing ability.
However, all is not lost. There are some foods that can help you regain the brain’s sensitivity to receive messages from leptin. Eating protein-rich foods like eggs, beans, lean chicken, fish and low-fat milk can help. Foods loaded with fiber such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and green leafy vegetables can assist in restoring your body’s natural weight regulator.
Beware of anyone claiming to sell leptin supplements. As mentioned earlier, it cannot be processed as leptin so taking supplements is unlikely to be effective.