Leptin resistance

Looking at the fat person you may think that you see a lazy and weak-willed «slave of passions» who cannot control his eating behavior. He is just eating and eating. But the reasons for getting extra pounds are very different and hidden in the biochemical processes of the body. Willpower is sometimes completely irrelevant. The leading role of obesity belongs to leptin and metabolism.


  1. What is leptin.
  2. Hormone resistance.
  3. Causes.
  4. How to identify leptin resistance.

What is leptin

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells. The more of them are in the body, the more leptin is synthesized. Fat cells are in constant contact with the brain. They report how much fat is in the body and whether it is sufficient energy potential for the normal functioning of the organism to the central nervous system. As a result, when there is a lot of fat, the brain understands that there is enough energy and the person does not experience a strong feeling of hunger. His metabolic rate is optimal.

If the level of leptin in the blood falls, this is a signal to the brain that the energy reserves are depleted. It is associated with hunger and the risk of death. As a result, the metabolism is inhibited against the background of a growing feeling of hunger. Thus, it turns out that the main purpose of leptin is to manage the body’s energy reserves on a long-term basis. The hormone helps support the body during hunger by sending a signal to the brain to turn on appetite and reduce metabolism. It also blocks overeating, «turning off» the feeling of hunger.

Hormone resistance

People with an obesity have high levels of leptin. Logically, their brain should know that there are more energy reserves than a person needs. But sometimes this normal chain of relationship between lipocytes and the central nervous system is disrupted. The person meets leptin resistance, which today is considered the main cause of obesity.

There is an imbalance in the control over the energy potential of the body when the brain loses its sensitivity to leptin. There is a lot of fat and leptin in the body, but the brain ignores it because it does not see it. The body thinks that a person is starving, but that is not true. The brain adjusts the eating behavior and metabolism of the body in such a way that it begins to work hard for accumulation. What is happening exactly?

Everything is simple:

  1. A person constantly feels hungry, eats all the time, but he does not feel satiation, therefore he eats several times more lipids than his norm.
  2. In parallel, activity is minimized, fewer calories are spent at rest, metabolic processes are inhibited.

In other words, a person eats a lot, moves little, feels the lack of energy, his metabolism is disturbed, thyroid activity decreases, and as a result, obesity sets in. And what is happening from the point of view of biochemistry? A lot of food provokes the accumulation of fat, more fat means more leptin in the body. A high concentration of the hormone in the blood causes the brain to reduce the sensitivity of receptors to it. The brain stops feeling leptin, thinks that the time has come for hunger, so it gives the command to eat more and spend less energy. The body, like a diligent student, does everything, accumulating even more fat. This produces even more leptin, and so we see a vicious circle.


There are several reasons for leptin resistance. Among them there is an:

  1. Inflammation. It may be asymptomatic. In a person with obesity, as a rule, inflammatory processes are localized in the subcutaneous fat of intestines. This is due to the nature of the incoming food, its quality, refined products. Immune cells migrate to the focus of inflammation. These macrophages produce bioactive substances of inflammation. Some of them block the normal functioning of leptin. You should focus on foods containing omega-3 fatty acids to bring everything back to normal. It is better to eat the products: fatty fish, fish oil, flaxseed oil. In addition, carotenoids and bioflavonoids, which are rich in ginger, dark berries, and pomegranate that helps to cope with inflammation. That is also necessary to reduce the level of insulin.
  2. Fast food. This is another reason for hormone resistance. The main trigger for this process is fructose, which is full of supplements that replace sugar in foods. You can correct the situation by refusing such food and eating soluble fiber.
  3. Stress. It becomes the main reason of the resistance, as a result of the release of the hormone cortisol into the blood. It minimizes the brain’s receptors for leptin.
  4. Inertia to insulin. When a large amount of carbohydrates enters the body, a lot of insulin is produced to balance the concentration of glucose in the blood. If there is always a lot of insulin, the cells get used to it and stop responding to the hormone. Under such circumstances, unutilized glucose is converted into fatty acids, which block the delivery of leptin to the brain. You can correct the situation if you increase physical activity or limit simple carbohydrates in food. The best way is to combine both of them.
  5. Overweight. The more fat is in the body, the more leptin is in the blood. This is an axiom. With an elevated level of the hormone, the brain parts intended for contact with leptin are partially inactivated. It automatically reduces the sensitivity of the brain to it. We are already familiar with this fixed circle. You can break it with the help of proper nutrition and exercise.
  6. Heredity. A genetic predisposition to leptin resistance is hidden in brain receptors or a mutation in the genes responsible for the structure of the hormone. It cannot be corrected in any way. About 20% of leptin resistance is triggered by this problem.

How to identify leptin resistance

The best way to check if you have leptin resistance is to know your body fat percentage. A high level of body fat is an evidence of obesity, especially if most of it locates near the stomach. You can use BMI for primary diagnosis is suitable.

This is a body mass index, which is calculated by the formula:

BMI = body weight in kg / height in sq.m. For example: with a weight of 90 kg and a height of 164 cm, the index will be: 90: (1.64×1.64) = 33.4.

Obesity is a big problem of nowadays. The good news is that if leptin resistance is the cause, the condition is reversible. But there is no easy way to do this. So far, there is no miracle drug that can correct the sensitivity of brain recipes to the hormone. Diet, exercises, and a balanced diet can help to deal with a resistance. However, pharmacology does not stand still, and the key to control leptin resistance is already being selected.

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