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Weight loss is complex – Here’s what you need to know

Weight loss is complex – Here’s what you need to know


Let’s be honest about this – Obesity and guilt often go hand in hand. One moment you are eyeing that piping-hot pizza. The next moment, you are bashing yourself over your lack of self-control.

It is at these moments that thoughts start flooding into your mind – You wonder why you let your weight get out of hand in the first place? What could you have done differently?

You turn the accusing finger towards yourself and blame yourself for all that’s wrong with your body. These nagging feelings quickly snowball into desperation and despair, and you are left feeling helpless.

Obesity is not your fault! In fact, it is more complex than you might imagine. There are a variety of factors that contribute to your weight gain or keep you from losing weight. And leptin resistance might be one of them.

What is leptin anyways?
Leptin is a hormone that is released from fat cells. It mainly works in your brain. It tells your body when you are full, so this stops you from overeating. It balances the food intake and the energy that you use throughout the day.1

This hormone is basically like your very own personal trainer. It controls appetite by signaling your brain to stop eating. It also helps your brain to regulate how much energy your body burns throughout the day.

But how is leptin linked to obesity?
Food consumption and metabolism are regulated by hormones in the body such as leptin. The levels of these hormones must be regulated very precisely and in PwO (people with obesity) these levels are often altered.

Since there is lesser amount of leptin reaching the brain, there are reduced signals telling your brain when to stop eating. This can lead to overeating causing obesity.2

Further, these hormones reach the brain by crossing the blood-brain-barrier with the help of specific transporters. These transporters are known to play a critical role in the regulation of metabolism. A change in the circulating levels of these hormones, such as leptin, affect the activity and regulation of these transporters.

To add to this, obesity can cause changes in the cellular integrity of the blood-brain-barrier itself, and can affect the function of the central nervous system.

Leptin – the double-edged sword
So, while earlier, we indicated that leptin acts like your personal trainer, to prevent overeating, it also acts like the devil on your shoulder, when you try to lose weight.

When fasting, leptin levels fall rapidly and lead to a pathway which induces you to overeat and also supresses the amount of energy that is used up.3

The metabolic adaptation of the leptin levels was evolved as a protection mechanism against threat of starvation, by reducing the amount of energy expenditure and conserving energy storage. But in the modern environment, where food is plenty and energy usage is reduced, this metabolic efficiency leads to obesity.3

So how do I improve Leptin sensitivity?
Improving sensitivity to leptin can be done by following a recommended diet plan, doing exercises to burn calories, and seeking the right medical intervention. This has to be tailored to each person who lives with obesity and has to be sustained over-time by integrating them into your lifestyle. 4,5 Inculcating these changes in your everyday routine can help you overcome obesity in a planned and scientific way.

Do visit an obesity specialist to understand how to reverse leptin resistance and ensure it works in your favor.


  1. Dornbush S, Aeddula NR. Physiology, Leptin. [Updated 2021 Apr 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537038/
  2. Izquierdo AG, Crujeiras AB, Casanueva FF, Carreira MC. Leptin, Obesity, and Leptin Resistance: Where Are We 25 Years Later? Nutrients. 2019 Nov 8;11(11):2704. doi: 10.3390/nu11112704. PMID: 31717265; PMCID: PMC6893721.
  3. Ahima RS. Revisiting leptin’s role in obesity and weight loss. J Clin Invest. 2008 Jul;118(7):2380-3. doi: 10.1172/JCI36284. PMID: 18568083; PMCID: PMC2430504.
  4. Shapiro A, Tümer N, Gao Y, Cheng KY, Scarpace PJ. Prevention and reversal of diet-induced leptin resistance with a sugar-free diet despite high fat content. Br J Nutr. 2011 Aug;106(3):390-7. doi: 10.1017/S000711451100033X. Epub 2011 Mar 22. PMID: 21418711.
  5. Izadi V, Saraf-Bank S, Azadbakht L. Dietary intakes and leptin concentrations. ARYA Atheroscler. 2014 Sep;10(5):266-72. PMID: 25477984; PMCID: PMC4251481.


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