In the second week of the new year we are still talking about getting healthy and losing weight. As I have mentioned before we have hormones that act as communicator between all the systems of our body. When it comes to metabolizing fat and weight loss there is a hormone called leptin that has started to become of interest to medical researches in understanding how fat metabolism works.
Leptin is mostly produced from our fat cells but can also be produced in ovaries, skeletal muscles, stomach, bone marrow and liver. Leptin impacts are appetite and our metabolism. Leptin acts on several organs including the brain, muscles and liver by circulating in the blood and attaching to receptor found on the cells of these organs.
Leptin specifically works by acting on the hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain and decreasing a feeding stimulant in the brain and the stomach. This reduces the feeling of wanting to eat. Leptin also promotes the feeling of being full so you will stop eating. The combination of decreasing feeding stimulation and the feeling of being full both stop people from eating.
In the liver and muscles leptin acts by reducing fat stores in those cells. What does all this really mean? It means that when there is leptin circulating in the body our appetite levels decrease and we do feel the hungry. When there is no leptin circulating our appetite increases and we want to eat more.
In the last several years there has been more research trying to understand the role that leptin plays in weight gain and weight loss among individuals. The current finding are that leptin is more of a factor to cause people to gain weight especially in people that are normal weight than people who are already overweight. Some genetic testing has found certain mutations cause some individuals to continue to eat because they have a constant desire for food.
Understanding that we have hormones like leptin that are impact or appetite is good information to know. Why? I think it helps my patients to understand there are hormones and chemicals that impact our weight gain it is not just will power.