The Power of Leptin Diet The human body is primarily concerned with one thing—survival.
Fundamental to the survival of the 100 trillion cells that comprise the body is the commander in chief of operations, the human brain. On a subconscious survival level the single most important issue for thebrain is energy. Food to the body, like gas to a car, is the raw material that can potentially be burned to produce energy.
The brain must make some basic calculations about energy:
1) How much and what kind of food is available?
2) How much energy will it take to acquire that food?
3) How much energy do I have to spend on various activities before I get food again?
4) Do I have enough energy to reproduce (survival of the race)?
5) Do I have enough energy to protect myself (building or finding shelter, avoiding predators,
dealing with stress)?
The hard-wiring of the subconscious human brain (called the limbic system) takes these survival
questions very seriously.
How is the subconscious brain supposed to know the answers? It does not have two eyes to look around and see what kind of food is available; it does not know that, in modern times, there is food on every corner. What kind of gas gauge does the subconscious brain use? How does it know when to pull over and fill up the tank?
The Power of Leptin Diet The Discovery of Leptin
The breakthrough that provided answers to these questions occurred in 1994. For many years
researchers were puzzled by a particular strain of mouse that never stopped eating. It typically became obese, diabetic, and unable to reproduce. Researchers discovered that this mouse did not make the necessary hormone to give it a full signal. The researchers named their newly discovered hormone leptin.
They synthesized leptin and gave it to the mouse, at which time the animal ceased its constant eating, lost its excess weight, reversed its diabetes, and regained normal reproductive function.
This discovery set in motion one of the most intense scientific races ever—to produce a leptin drug for weight loss. Today, there are over ten thousand studies on leptin in the scientific literature. Up to this point, however, research has failed to produce any effective or FDA-approved leptin drugs. This is because only a handful of humans have the same exact genetic problem as the mouse.
The Power of Leptin Diet Communicates to Your Brain
Leptin is made by fat cells. It travels through the blood and up to the brain. It crosses the blood-brain
barrier and goes to the command center of the subconscious brain (the hypothalamus gland). The brain uses leptin as we use the gas gauge in our car. In essence, leptin in fat cells is making a phone call to the brain, informing it about how much fuel is in the gas tank.
When leptin levels are low it means that fuel reserves are running low and it’s time to acquire food. When leptin levels rise during a meal it means the tank is full—stop eating. In the case of the mouse that doesn’t make leptin, it never gets the full signal and eats itself into a disease state.
Surviving Famine When we were evolving, the human brain could not make energy-expenditure plans based solely on one meal—simply because it did not know when the next meal was coming.
It needed a way to better predict how many meals per week would be available. If enough food seemed to be coming in on a regular basis, then the body could be more permissive at “spending energy.” Thus, metabolism would run faster. If, however, meals seemed scarce over a period of time, then survival instincts required metabolism to run more slowly. If too much energy was spent, the result would be starvation or perishing from malnutrition.
The Power of Leptin Diet brain uses leptin to perceive the amount of body fat on hand and thus gauge how much fuel has been acquired over the past several weeks. The higher the percentage of body fat, the greater the amount of leptin. Women have a naturally higher percentage of body fat, and thus higher baseline levels of leptin, because they need more energy reserves for pregnancy to enable the human race to survive. Leptin even serves an additional role during pregnancy, sustaining the growth and viability of the placenta.
During a time of abundant food and more frequent meals, the body fat of a normal-weight person will increase, compared to times of food scarcity. This fat will make leptin and that leptin level will be
generally higher in the blood over a 24-hour period. This says to the brain that there is plenty of fuel on hand for long-term plans, so metabolism can be set to a higher pace. A permissive energy-spending policy can be set, since no starvation is on the horizon.
As meals become less frequent, stored fat is broken down to be used as fuel to sustain energy, which lowers the percentage of body fat. With less fat there is less leptin made over a 24-hour period. If this trend keeps up for a week or so, the brain begins to sense this general shortage of fuel and starts to tighten its energy policy, restricting metabolism.
Remember, the human body is primarily concerned with survival. During our evolution the only way to withstand a scarcity of food was to run metabolism more slowly. Once a period of starvation was over and more food was available, then depleted reserves of energy needed to be restored. There is no way one meal can restore depleted fat reserves following a longer period of starvation. Thus, as a person begins to eat more food following a period of reduced intake, the 24-hour leptin levels gradually begin to rise.
However, leptin’s first task is to restore fat reserves. This is a genetic survival program. In the period of time following reduced food intake, leptin commands a large portion of calories to go directly back to fat.
Gradually, over a period of days or weeks, the percentage of stored body fat is elevated, and the 24-hour level of leptin reaches a point that signifies famine is over and fat stores have been replenished. The brain, now happy with the 24-hour leptin levels, will go back to its more permissive energy-spending policy and allow metabolism to run faster.
This elegant and elaborate system is how the body spends and stores energy for survival.
The Problem of Pleasure During human evolution there was frequently a scarcity of food, and it required considerable energy to hunt, gather, or otherwise acquire food. Thus, brain wiring developed at least ten signals that promote eating for every one signal that says to stop eating. Our brain wiring is highly tilted toward acquiring food.
Pleasure is associated with food intake. This is a survival instinct. Even when a person doesn’t have a lot of energy, he or she still needs to spend energy to acquire food in order to survive. Acquiring food produces a surge of the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. This in turn produces a pleasure signal as a reward and reinforces the value of acquiring food. Mice that have no dopamine, and thus no pleasure from food intake, rapidly starve because they do not have any desire to spend energy trying to acquire food.
The Power of Leptin Diet In contemporary life this survival principle has been turned into food addiction, which closely The Leptin Diet parallels all forms of addiction. Pain is felt in the nerves (stress, hunger, tired head), and something to produce pleasure is sought as a quick fix. Food works well. So do alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, ADHD drugs, sex, excitement, and shopping. The common theme is a substance or activity that will cause a surge of dopamine, and thus a pleasure reward for the activity. When food is used as a “solution” for stress or as a source of comfort, it typically leads to excess consumption and eventual obesity.
A majority of overweight individuals are literally addicted to the taste of fat, salt, sweets, additive chemicals, and/or meals far larger than are actually needed to sustain life in a healthy way.
The Broken Gas Gauge Unlike the mouse that makes no leptin, in humans the primary problem leading to obesity is a broken gas gauge.
The gauge is stuck close to empty; thus, metabolism runs slowly even though there is an
abundance of fat in storage. Unfortunately, your subconscious brain does not know what you look like in the mirror each morning. It bases your metabolic rate on its perception of leptin. If leptin is not getting into the brain, your metabolism will run slowly, a false state of perceived starvation.
This problem is called The Power of Leptin Diet resistance. The guidelines in this book for eating, known as the Leptin Diet, explain how to eat so that leptin gets into your brain properly. If you eat in a way that upsets the leptin applecart, you are destined for problems.
If a person cuts back a bit on junk food and excess calories, increases his or her activity or exercise, and the body then burns off the excess fat and returns to normal weight, the gas gauge is not broken.
However The Power of Leptin Diet, gaining weight through overeating and a lack of exercise places considerable stress on healthy leptin function. Once the gas gauge starts to stick, it becomes harder and harder to lose weight by reducing calories. Many overweight people find they that can eat very little and not lose weight, or that they even gain weight eating seemingly normal portions of food. Unfortunately, their gas gauge is stuck on empty. While there is still hope for fixing more difficult problems, it is much easier to fix a small leptin problem than a large one.
The Power of Leptin Diet The moral of the story: once in shape stay in shape.
When a person eats a moderate amount of food and maintains a reasonable amount of exercise or activity and still can’t lose weight, then leptin trouble is setting in. The subconscious brain now perceives a false state of starvation, which can develop into very serious metabolic problems. When there is a broken gas gauge the subconscious brain actually thinks the current weight is the proper weight, regardless of whether the individual is twenty or a hundred pounds overweight.
The brain’s perception of The Power of Leptin Diet determines the set point for body weight. Tips given throughout this book will explain how to shift the set point gradually to a true normal set point and avoid inducing the starvation dieting response, which is invariably doomed to failure.
The Starvation Dieting Response
Let’s take the example of a male who is twenty pounds overweight. He is not gaining weight but cannot lose weight on the amount of food he is currently eating. He begins to cut calories in an effort to lose weight.
At first, his long-range metabolism is still in an energy-permissive mode, with metabolism set for the higher calorie intake.
As he cuts back on calories, metabolism runs faster for a while and he loses weight. After a week or so the drop in body fat lowers leptin levels and the subconscious brain begins to sense potential starvation. Metabolism is now reset to a slower pace to match the lower number of calories coming in. Weight loss begins to slow down or stop.
At the same time, he starts to go into a starvation energy-management plan, meaning that every part of the body gets less energy. His head is now tired and irritable, muscles get weaker, he struggles with fatigue, stress tolerance is poor, and he may catch a cold or other illness because the immune system is short on energy.
Along with feeling miserable, he is no longer losing weight. If he tries to eat less he feels even worse.
The Leptin Diet Typically, he is still ten pounds from a normal weight. Soon enough, he breaks down and starts eating more food. He feels better. Leptin levels begin to rise, but then the genetic program for recovery after starvation enters the picture and it says: replenish fat. Since the original problem of the broken gas gauge was never fixed, the brain reasons that it had better store some extra fat this time, in case the person pulls another starvation stunt.
Thus all the weight is gained back, along with a few extra pounds for good measure, and only then will energy come back to something resembling normal. It could be worse: some people just keep gaining weight on a normal amount of food. They are unable to get out of the famine-recovery mode.
This is the anatomy of the yo-yo diet—survival signals gone haywire.
The Leptin Diet The Power of Leptin
Leptin is the king of hormones, the most powerful hormone in the human body. It has this lofty status
because it is the commander in chief for the use of energy. The rate at which any other hormone or
substance can be synthesized or function in the body requires energy, and it is leptin that gives
permission to spend energy.
Science shows that leptin orders and synchronizes the behavior of all hormones. It will even micromanage when it wants to. It will take input from other hormones to help the brain figure out how to spend energy, just as the CEO of a company will take input from department heads. No other hormone orders leptin.
Furthermore, while leptin is classified as a hormone, it is structured as an immune system cytokine
(messenger). And, yes, leptin is king of the immune system’s function as well.
The Power of Leptin Diet is the leader of the team, the conductor of the orchestra. It utilizes a team of hormones to carry on all energy regulation in the human body. These are powerful signals, all geared toward survival.
The Power of Leptin Diet When a person gets on The Leptin Diet bad side, problems abound: fatigue, depression, irritability, inability to focus, poor metabolism, faulty immune function, problems extracting energy from food, high cholesterol,high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, anorexia, reproductive-function problems—the list goes on and on.
Such problems set the stage for the progression into the diseases of aging.
The Power of Leptin Diet Learning to master leptin is the most fundamental skill required for a healthy life. It is important not just for people who are struggling with weight; it is important for everyone. Getting along with leptin helps a person to extract a maximum amount of energy from food. It is central to resolving the issue of fatigue as well as lowering all risk factors associated with heart disease. Indeed, problems with The Leptin Diet are the number-one risk factor for heart disease—problems which can be set in motion in teenage years or even before.