The Hormone to Blame for Your Nightly Snack and Chill Habit
Other posts on this blog have broken down what your “metabolism” actually is, as well as how hormones are responsible for regulating your body’s systems.
In this post, I’m going to discuss how leptin — the master hunger hormone — controls the sensations of hunger and satiety. This is important because for many, too much leptin has led to leptin resistance, causing an inability to control hunger and keep at a healthier weight.
So why is leptin to blame for overeating, particularly at night?
Leptin is secreted by adipose tissue (body tissue used for the storage of fat) and responsible for inhibiting hunger. Because it is secreted by adipose tissue, the more fat you have, the more leptin you have. And the more leptin you have, the more hungry you feel.
This sounds counterintuitive because if leptin inhibits hunger, shouldn’t more of the hormone help you lose weight? The problem is, when your body has excessive leptin, it develops a resistance, much like insulin (in fact, blood sugar and leptin issues often go hand in hand). This is a very slippery slope because if you do not react to leptin, you have a hard time understanding when you are full.
When functioning properly, leptin tells us that because it’s late at night and our body likely won’t need energy, that we don’t need to eat. But, if you’re a person who often snacks at night, especially on crap like chips, cookies, ice cream — well, you may have a leptin problem.
Symptoms of Leptin Resistance
- You can’t lose weight regardless of diet or exercise
- You gain weight with any changes in lifestyle
- You’re overweight
- You constantly crave food
- You eat a disproportionately small amount for your body
In addition to excessive adipose tissue, a lack of sleep, consuming lots of fructose and high glycemic carbohydrates, general overeating, and high insulin levels can all negatively impact your body’s reaction to leptin.
Leptin Resistance Leads to:
- High Blood Pressure
- Decreased fertility
- Heart disease
- Inability to regulate blood sugar
How to fix Leptin Resistance
Speak to a professional! Only a properly trained dietitian or nutritionist can diagnose whether leptin resistance is the root problem.
If it is, get your insulin levels under control. This is typically done by intermittent fasting and limiting extra snack foods. You know what, just eliminate late night snacking! I don’t usually take a hard stance, but if you’re eating cookies, chips, or ice cream most nights — that’s the problem.
Next, identify the simple carbohydrates in your diet and try to limit intake whenever and wherever possible. White bread and bagels aren’t doing you any favors.
Don’t take it too far and crash diet. A gradual lifestyle change is always more effective than the quick fix. In fact, a crash diet will only exacerbate the problem. You need to ramp up your body’s metabolic functions and a low calorie diet (sub 1,200 a day) is terrible for doing so.
Instead, increase your protein intake. This will help you feel satiated and resist snacking.
And finally, get some sleep!
Reach out and learn how DACPT can help you combat leptin resistance and get your metabolic activity back on track!