Leptin- Feast or Famine?
There have been numerous articles written recently about hormones and long-term weight loss. They seem to center around leptin and starvation mode. Most of these articles are very doom and gloom, making many of us feel like we are stuck with what we were given. Luckily this isn't true. I've battled leptin and starvation on the front line. While I applaud the research and the acknowlegment in the articles that "losing weight and keeping it off isn't as easy as some think". These articles are failing to connect the dots. The trick to raising leptin and metabolism is simple, and very fun!
|You can have amazing long-term results by understanding Leptin|
Below is a couple of the recent articles that have increased mainstream awareness of leptin and "starvation mode"
"The Fat Trap" by Tara Parker Pope
"After dieting, hormone changes may fuel weight regain"
by Amanda MacMillan, Health.com
You can find it here
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a relatively new term in the battle against obesity. It wasn’t discovered until the 1990’s. What researchers found was that leptin plays an integral role in the monitoring our metabolism and our hunger. Leptin is found inside our fat cells. Its job is to tell our brain that we are full and satisfied when we eat. It was given the tagline the "Anti-Obesity Hormone"
However recent research has shown that it's main job isn't so much telling our brain we are satified when we eat, but to alert it when there's not eough food being consumed. Leptin levels are determined by caloric energy balance.
Leptin is really the "Anti-Starvation" Hormone.
When we are going through periods of calorie restriction (diets) leptin levels can drop dramatically in as little as 7 days. When leptin levels drop, our hunger and cravings increase and our brain shifts metabolism into a slower gear.
Our brain perceives our “diet” as a time of famine, so it slows energy output the best it can so we will survive longer on fewer calories, buying us more time until we feast.
The most important job of our brain is survival. It can adapt in extreme ways to keep us alive in what it pervceives as surival situations.
It's 10,000 years of evolution, and it's how we are hardwired to survive.
I used to think that the guys who could eat junk all day and stay thin had the "gifted" genetics.
I was Wrong!
If there was ever to be a true time of famine, all of the perpetual thin people would be the first to go. Leaving us overweight people to rule the world.
While it’s a wonderful survival mechanism, it’s extremely frustrating that our body fights back in such a way when we are just trying to improve our health.
It does make complete sense when you think about it, and when you’ve experienced it. Restricting calories is almost like a self-induced famine. How would our brain know the difference? It just senses the constant use of stored energy as a sign that there isn’t enough to eat.
"The researchers also found that the desire to eat doubled in response to calorie restriction. The participants reporting the greatest increase in hunger were those with the largest decline in leptin."
This is part of where the article "The Fat Trap" among others didn't connect the dots.
Many beleive that in loosing weight we cross a personal “body fat threshold” and when this happens our leptin drops.While there may be a "magic number" threshold for bodyfat, there's no proof. What we know is a leptin drops when we have a negative energy balance.
I highly doubt that a "magic number" exsists. If there is one I have yet to reach mine at 8% body-fat. Also what about the other thousands of people who have lost huge amounts of weight to become very fit and lean? Where's their threshold? Did the participants who had 50% leptin decline in just 7 days of calorie restriction reach their threshold in a week?
Attributing decline in Leptin as simply a result of losing body fat, to me doesn’t appear logical.The true culprit is living consistently in a caloric deficit and constantly burning fat for energy.
So how do we increase leptin?
When leptin drops our brain is begging us to feast! So the logical thing to do is give our brain exactly what it wants, and feast!
“A day or two of controlled overfeeding will raise leptin levels and can help you avoid some of the metabolic adaptations inherent with any type of restricted-calorie diet.”
What do scientific studies say?
-Christian Finn, M.Sc., Founder, The Facts About Fitness Ltd.
"Following a period of calorie restriction, participants were then given a 12 hour period of overeating. Researchers found that Leptin rose by 40-50% over baseline during the final hours of overfeeding; the increase persisted until the next morning! Unfortunately the researchers didn’t test any further than the following morning to see how long the increase lasted."
Now we know leptin can decline drastically in as little as seven days, and a 12 hour period of overeating spikes leptin levels back up. Problem solved!
In order to avoid “Starvation Mode”, we need to follow days of calorie deficits with a day of calorie surplus.
It's an obvious answer, but one that I found out accidently when I hit a plateau dieting several years ago. During this plateau food cravings were destroying my life, to the point I had to give in. Eventhough I didn't like the idea of "cheating" I decided to get everything "out of my head" by taking a day off and indulging. My purpose for doing it was to simply clear my mind of food cravings and start over. What happend was; I cured my cravings and I lost weight again.
This is why in my book, Spike Diet, I tagged this day as the “Spike Day”. It's not cheating, there's no guilt. Having a Spike Day every 7 days increases leptin levels and spikes metabolism.
Now some in the mainstream are jumping on the bandwagon!
Like Dr. Oz
“We think the best way to increase your metabolism is to diet for a couple days, cheat for a day,” says Dr. Oz. “Maybe Saturday can become ‘Faturday." - Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Oz radio show
I came to this conclusion years ago, and "spiking" has allowed me to not only keep the weight off but continually improve my physique. The choice is up to you, but for long-term weight loss, it's Feast or Famine?
- Leptin is the anti-starvation hormone
- Leptin helps to regulate hunger and metabolism
- Leptin drops drastically after just 7 days of calorie restriction.
- When leptin is low we feel more hungry and our metabolism can slow
- Leptin spikes up after just a 12 hour period of overeating
- When leptin is balanced, hunger is avoided and metabolism is normal