Your brain, specifically your hypothalamus, measures levels of leptin in your blood in order to gauge how much fat is currently stored in the body. When leptin is low, we think we need more fat. Your brain tells you to eat more food and to expend less energy by doing less.
Higher than necessary insulin levels or insulin resistance, however, can cause the lines of communication between leptin and your brain to breakdown, resulting in a range of problems.
Insulin is a fundamental part of how your body stores energy. It carries the energy you get from food (glucose) to your cells and creates fat from any fuel that’s left over. Unfortunately, carrying extra pounds, poor diet and exercise habits, stress, getting older, and other factors can cause an increase in insulin levels, meaning your body is unable to transfer the energy with the normal amount of insulin. Your body compensates for this by creating more insulin.
Increased levels of insulin in the bloodstream block your brain from communicating well with leptin. Because your brain can’t tell how much leptin is there, it thinks you must not have enough.
In order to restore the fat your body thinks it’s missing, your body goes into a “fat conservation mode,” meaning you begin to feel hungry for foods with a lot of sugar and fat and feel like you have less energy because the body thinks it needs to expend less.
Feeling sluggish and craving more food may be useful in times of starvation, but it’s counter-productive when caused by insulin resistance.
Improving how efficiently your body uses insulin is an often over-looked aspect to long-term dietary and fitness success. Because it makes gaining weight easier, increases cravings, etc., poor insulin efficiency, and how that affects leptin, is a reason why many diet and fitness programs fail.
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