There is so much buzz about- well everything these days really- but recently the role of leptin in relation to fat loss and energy. As you all know I am definitely not interested in the role of fat loss for my life and for the majority of my readers. But I am VERY interested in how to keep my energy systems in check and my hormones balanced and happy. Everything your body does requires energy. Your major systems respond to whether stress is depleting and threatening your energy or if you have enough to thrive.When the body senses stress of any kind it begins to shut down and/or resist the communication systems that keep us healthy, balanced and happy. And, for those struggling with HA it’s the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) and Hypothalamic Pituitary Ovarian (HPO) communication that is depleted of its energy.
So, what does this have to do with Leptin?
Leptin is your satiety or “I am no longer hungry and my body is perfectly fueled” hormone. Leptin is stored in and produced by your adipose tissue- aka fat. And when your body has met its energy needs through food, leptin is released to say stop eating. What is fascinating about this is that your fat is actually acting as a metabolic organ sending signals to your brain to operate all of your functions including thyroid, digestive and reproductive. Of course this would make one think that more fat= more leptin and that is very much true. But in the case of overweight and obese individuals their leptin is kind of broken, or resistant- very similar to insulin resistance.
In the case of HA, mostly induced by eating disorders, sudden weight loss and/or over-exercise, leptin stores are low or completely depleted- you can see how this would be an issue. So, if leptin is depleted and your fat stores are extremely low how can you still have any energy? (And I am talking to those who have HA and still somehow push through an 8 mile run). Well, that is another blog and time but your body turns to your adrenal reserves for back up and voila!- adrenal fatigue (aka wired tired). (Are you wired tired? Message me– I would love to help!)
“Advances in leptin physiology have established that the main role of this hormone is to signal energy availability in energy-deficient states. Studies in animals and human beings have shown that low concentrations of leptin are fully or partly responsible for starvation-induced changes in neuroendocrine axes, including low reproductive, thyroid, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) hormones.” Pub Med,2005
Adequate leptin= good energy= balanced metabolism= lowered stress triggers= happy hormone function.
There are a few new studies now actually showing that administering leptin to women with HA will reset the HPO axis and trigger a menstrual cycle. However, leptin is still a hormone and I fully believe that before you consider working with any natural or bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, you should work with your body and replace what it has lost. Proper nutrition and stress reduction should always be your first and even fifth approach to healing.
So how do you actually replace your leptin and energy stores? The most obvious answer is balanced nutrition and a good amount of healthy fats. In the case of HA, increasing your overall caloric intake is also necessary. The tricky part is, and what I have seen in my clients struggling through this issue, is the bloat, fatigue, digestive distress and anxiety that comes with adding calories and fat while trying to climb out of the HA hole on their own. (Not fun- believe me I know! ~ Get a little guidance…)
To get you started here are some tips…
- Rest~ This may be the most important factor in re-establishing leptin. Calorie increase alone won’t do a thing if you are burning through those calories and taxing your adrenals. Take naps if you can or at least a few minutes throughout the day try to take a break and put your feet up. Sleep! And I am talking about being in bed by 10 (ok 11) and sleeping through the night until 7. NO 6am running for awhile. You must rest.
- Take Omegas!!!~ Yes, it is one of the few additional food supplements I think every human should take. I love good ol’ Carlson’s Cod Liver oil as it has full spectrum essential fatty acids and naturally occurring Vitamin D. Don’t like the straight stuff?- then you can take the capsules.
- Eat 5 small meals per day. I don’t always recommend this except in cases of energy deficiency and blood sugar imbalances (ok, so that’s most of you- hmmm). You want to ensure you are getting protein, fat and good carbohydrates/naturally occurring sugars (yes you need sugars) with each meal. If your body feels fueled it will begin to reset- and trust- itself to function again.
There are so many other deeply rooted and personal factors in figuring out how to reset your system. The suggestions above are very basic. In order to dig a little deeper I do highly recommend a helping hand with your hormones.