Leptin may be the most important fat burning hormone in the body. Stemming from leptos, and meaning thin, leptin plays a key role in the storage and use of carbohydrates and fats. Leptin also signals the brain as to issues of hunger and metabolism, specifically signalling when enough food has been consumed and when the body needs to burn calories for energy.
Leptin levels fluctuate as weight is gained or lost and women tend to have higher levels than men.
Similar to insulin resistance, leptin resistance increases the amount of leptin produced by the body. Increased levels of leptin decreases the brain’s sensitivity to the hormone.
Poor diet and lack of exercise leads to storage of excess fat in the body. This storage of excess fat may result in a decreased sensitivity to leptin in the body. The decrease sensitivity to leptin can result in the brain sending false hunger signals, resulting in overeating and weight gain.
Weight gain and obesity lead to leptin resistance, and leptin resistance encourages overeating and weight gain; creating a seemingly endless cycle. This endless cycle can be broken by adhering to a healthy diet, participating in regular exercise, losing weight and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Recent research has also demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture on weight loss and production of hormones known to influence metabolism, including leptin, insulin and ghrelin. Specifically, women who participated in regular acupuncture demonstrated decreased leptin resistance and a decrease in insulin levels, both resulting in weight loss.