Weight Loss & Leptin Resistance

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Listen to Jon Gabriel Teach About:

  • Why the hormone leptin is crucial to weight loss
  • How your body regulates its own weight
  • What you need to know to make your body want to be thin


Read The Lecture Transcripts Here


So, I wanted to talk a little bit about the hormone leptin, because we’ve talked a lot about insulin and insulin resistance, and how insulin resistance puts your body in fat storage mode, that’s when your body stops listening to the hormone insulin, and how that makes you unable to regulate your blood sugar. So, you get low blood sugar episodes and you get junk food cravings, and then your body can’t burn fat efficiently. And all this happens because your body’s not listening to the hormone insulin.

And we\'ve talked about how cortisol activates the FAT programs. But all of it is really regulated by a master hormone called leptin. And so, I want to talk a little bit about leptin, just so you will understand, really, how your body regulates its body weight. Because I always talk about how the body wants to be fat or the body wants to be thin, but how does your body, first of all, know how fat it is, or thin it is? That’s one question you want to ask, and if your body wanted to be fatter, what would it do? And, if it wanted to be thinner, what would it do to lose weight? And the answers really lie in this hormone called leptin.

Leptin is the master hormone that controls obesity and weight loss. And leptin was only just discovered back in 1994, just 15 years ago. We didn’t even know the hormone existed before that. And when we first discovered the hormone, it caused quite a stir in the biochemical community. Because what they found was that — they bred mice that were incapable of producing the hormone leptin, and if they’re incapable of producing leptin, then what happens is the mice would get fatter and fatter. They would actually become three times their normal body weight. They would just keep eating and eating, and they would get fatter, and fatter, and fatter.

And, so what they did, was they started giving leptin to these mice, and the more leptin they gave the mice, the thinner they got, because they stopped being hungry, and their metabolism sped up, and all of a sudden they get thinner, and thinner, and thinner. So, when they discovered that, they thought, “My God, we’ve got the cure to obesity. All we have to do is give people leptin.”

So, they started treating overweight people with the hormone leptin. And, do you know what happened, Kelly?






I was reading about that. I was reading about it, yes.


That’s what happened, nothing happened. The reason that nothing happened is because overweight people already have a lot of leptin in their system. The problem is their body is not listening to leptin. See, leptin is a hormone that’s producing your fat cells, and the more fat cells you have, and the more fat you have, the more leptin your produce. And leptin travels through your blood stream, and when it interacts with the part of your brain they call the animal brain, or the hypothalamus, it actually tells the hypothalamus how much fat you have on your body, or it gives an indication of how fat you are.

And, if there’s too much leptin, what happens is, you become less hungry, your metabolism speeds up, all these things I talk about. You become less hungry, you stop craving sweet foods because your tongue becomes very sensitive to sweets. You are full, you have a couple bites of food and you say, “I’m full.” You know, how naturally thin people, they have a couple of bites of food —


Yes, they couldn’t eat another bit, yes.


Yes, they’ve got this gorgeous piece of pizza, and they’ve taken two little rabbit bites out of it, and it’s just sitting there, and you just want to down the whole thing in two bites, while you’re looking at them.


Yes, I eat it for them, as if it’s —


Exactly, and you’re eating your melba toast crackers and wanting to just scarf it — and they take two little rabbit bites, that’s because their body is listening to leptin. So, you take a couple of bites, you body says, \”I’m full.\” You’re not craving really sweet foods, your metabolism speeds up, and your body becomes very efficient at burning fat. That’s leptin, leptin is brilliant that way.

The problem is, with overweight people – and this is the core problem – is that, when you’re overweight, it’s because your body — and especially that part of your brain, the hypothalamus, the animal brain, is not listening to the hormone leptin. It means that when leptin is traveling through your blood stream and interacting with the cells in that part of your brain it’s not listening. The cells are not listening.

So, if the cells are not listening to the hormone leptin, it’s the same as actually not having leptin at all. And then what happens, is the exact opposite happens is, it takes you a very long time to get full. You’re not full from — you eat foods and you eat foods, and you just keep eating until you’re stuffed. And the only way that you’re finally full is when your stomach just literally can’t hold any more food. I don’t know if you know that feeling, I certainly have had that feeling before. That was how I knew a meal was over, was I couldn’t put anything more in my stomach. That’s because my body wasn’t listening to the hormone leptin.

Also, your tongue loses its sensitivity to sweet foods. So, it takes sweeter foods to satisfy you. Your metabolism slows down because leptin actually does certain things to the thyroid. It has the thyroid secrete certain hormones that speed up your metabolism. If your body’s not listening to leptin, you’re not secreting those hormones. So, people tell me I have a slow thyroid, I say, “Your problem is, you’re leptin resistant, just like everybody else.” Leptin regulates your thyroid, and thyroid medication is not addressing the real issue. The real issue is this hormone leptin.

Now the other thing that happens when your body stops listening to leptin, is you become insulin resistant. And if you remember, that’s what we’ve really been talking about for many weeks now, is insulin resistance, and how insulin resistance causes weight gain, causes Type 2 Diabetes, causes your body to go into fat storage, it causes junk food cravings, all these things. So, your body becomes leptin resistant, or insulin resistant. So, all these things happen when your body stops listening to the hormone leptin.

So, what I did was I really studied the hormone leptin. And I\'ve studied all of the different things that can cause your body to become more sensitive to the hormone leptin. And what’s interesting, is that certain stresses make your body more sensitive to the hormone leptin, certain stresses make your body less sensitive to the hormone leptin. The stress of a famine, the stress of chronic cold weather, chronic stresses – what they call the chronic stress response network – chronic stresses, the day in, day out stress of trying to make ends meet, or having an abusive boss, or having some sort of trauma in your life. Those types of stresses can activate this chronic stress response network which is the famine response which makes your body stop listening to leptin.

So, really what happens is this. If your body wants to gain weight, let’s say your body wants to gain 10 pounds, or 5 kilos, all it has to do, it’s very simple, it’s almost like turning a dial in your brain. Your body becomes a little bit more leptin resistant, that is, it just stops listening to leptin a little bit more. And that’s all that has to happen, and you will gain weight. That’s how your body shifts its set point. If you imagine, like a dimmer switch on a light bulb —


So, it’s that slight, it’s that same —


That’s right, that’s all that has to happen is a tiny little bit more leptin resistance. That’s all that has to happen. So, the stresses in our lives are causing this dimmer switch of our brain to become more sensitive, or more resistant to leptin. So, if you have certain stresses that are causing chemistry that’s similar to a famine, and that chemistry is elevated cortisol levels, elevated triglycerides, elevated levels of what they call proinflammatory cytokines, which means when you have inflammation from toxins or just from life. Then what will happen is those hormones will sit in your body, it will become a little less sensitive to the hormone leptin. That’s all that has to happen. That’s how your body shifts its set point.

And believe me, if you’re less sensitive to leptin, sooner or later you are going to gain that extra five pounds or ten pounds, or five kilos, or whatever it is, you’re going to gain it. Maybe it’s not immediate because you can fight, but that fighting is making your body even more sensitive to leptin. Because that fighting is causing a famine, and then the whole thing escalates.

So, that’s how your body fights, that’s how your body regulates, and it can fight you 24/7, and people think it’s about willpower and discipline. It’s not; it’s about getting your body more sensitive to leptin. Certain stresses make your body more sensitive to leptin. The stress of running away from a tiger, makes your body more sensitive to leptin. It’s called an acute stress, a shocking — you’re walking down the street, a tiger jumps out. You’re shocked, you\'re stunned, your hearts pounding, you run. That causes certain chemicals in your body that make your body more sensitive to leptin. The specific chemical is called corticotropin-releasing hormone. Corticotropin-releasing hormone makes your body more sensitive to the hormone leptin, because it tells you that, “We’ve got to run away from tigers, so we need to be thin.” And, if your body wants to be thin, all it has to do is become more sensitive to the hormone leptin.

So, this is really understanding how your body works so that you can work with it. And understanding the stresses in your life, whether they’re physical, mental, or emotional, and how to maximize the stresses that make your body want to listen to leptin, and how to reduce the stresses that cause your body to stop listening to leptin. And in this way, you become more sensitive to leptin, you shift your body’s set points, and you start losing weight automatically. And believe me, it is a very automatic process when your body starts listening to leptin. So, we’ve got —


Can I ask you just one question? Because I know people are asking, you can hear the dinging, they’re asking. Why didn’t it work when the mice were given just the leptin?


I don’t know. It worked. Why did it? The real question is why did it work? It worked when the mice were given leptin, they did lose weight. And the reason is because their body has no leptin. See, they gained weight because their bodies could not produce leptin. They were genetically, specifically bred to not be able to produce leptin, so people could — so scientists could test this. And when you give a rat leptin, they’ll lose weight if they’re incapable of producing leptin. And, there’s about one or two percent of people that are overweight, who also have the same problem, that their body doesn’t produce leptin. If you give them leptin, they’ll lose weight too. But, for the vast majority of people, they already have very high leptin levels, it’s their body’s not listening to leptin. And that is because —


It’s almost like that insulin resistance you always speak about.


It’s exactly right. See, there’s two components. When you go to the doctor and he gives you this hormone, or that hormone, there’s two components to a hormone. A hormone is a chemical messenger that travels through your bloodstream, and it’s a way to your body, the different organs in your body that communicate. How does your liver communicate to your brain? How do your fat cells communicate how fat you are to your brain? How does your brain know that? Well, hormones travel from one part of your body to the other communicating messages. That’s how your body communicates with itself.

But there’s two components to a hormonal message. One is the actual hormone, and the other is how much the cell is listening to the hormone. And that’s the most important part. Because that’s where your body can kind of one up you, because if there’s a reason why your body’s not listening to a hormone, and then the doctor says, “Well, we’ll give you more of this hormone,” your body’s going to start listening to it even less.

It’s exactly the same as if you go to a concert and the music is real loud, your ears become a little bit deaf. If the music gets louder, your ears are going to become more deaf. So, if you artificially increase one hormone or another, it just makes your body less sensitive to that. And, where it really becomes a problem is in your brain when doctors give you, for example, antidepressants – which sometimes they’re absolutely necessary and you should always follow your doctor’s advice – but the challenge and the tricky aspect of interfering with neurotransmitters — which neurotransmitters are hormones, chemical messengers in your brain that communicate to your brain cells, is that your brain cells will stop listening to those neurotransmitters.

So, if you artificially increase the level of a neurotransmitter so that it will make you feel happier, your brain cells will stop listening to that neurotransmitter even more. And it can cause – that’s the risk – a huge rebound affect. And that’s why certain antidepressants , for example, have warnings on them that they actually cause suicide. Because they actually increase the level of suicides.


Suicidal aggregation. They say it all the time.


It’s a huge warning. But the reason is, because when you interfere with your body’s hormone levels, you’re also affecting how sensitive you are to those hormones. So you have to look at the whole picture, and you have to say, “Well, how do I get my body to want to be thin? How do I get my body to want to listen to these hormones?” Well, the way to do it is to eliminate those stresses, that are causing your body to want to be fat or they’re mimicking a famine and are causing your body to be more leptin resistant.

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