Leptin Resistance Trips Your Hunger Trigger

Leptin Resistance Trips Your Hunger Trigger

My response to fat shamers is: Shame on them. The truth is that if you’re constantly battling the urge to overeat, the most likely culprit isn’t a lack of willpower. It’s a hormone called leptin

I was in LA last weekend for an impromptu consult. I had the opportunity to spend time with a beautiful woman who was every bit as strong and smart as she was lovely. Her husband, an actor, was concerned because she was depressed. She was withdrawn and gaining more and more weight. He’d never seen her like this. Let’s face it, Hollywood is more looks-centric than a lot of places, so a weight problem is magnified there.

Everyone around this woman had been making comments about her weight. Friends said, “Maybe you should get surgery.” Even her doctors made a point to tell her, “You need to do something about that.” When I spoke with her, I felt gripping pain.  This remarkable woman looked at me with shame written all over her face and stated, “I know, I’m weak and it’s my fault. I just can’t control what I eat.” It’s easy to see why this woman is depressed.

She’s a victim of fat shaming, something that I see more and more often these days. It’s happening online, on podcasts, on radio and TV, and through all sorts of media. For some reason, many people think it’s just fine to lecture or even publicly bully people who are overweight. Worst of all, it’s happening to vulnerable children – especially young girls. Well, here’s my message to you if you’re battling extra pounds and you’re experiencing fat shaming.

What these people are telling you isn’t just mean… it’s a lie. Here’s the real story. If you’re constantly battling the urge to overeat, the most likely culprit isn’t a lack of willpower. It’s a hormone called leptin.

How Leptin Resistance Trips Your Hunger Trigger

I call leptin your hunger trigger. When your leptin levels are high, you feel full. When they’re low, you feel hungry. So far, so good. But here’s the problem. If you eat a standard American high-carb diet, you send your leptin into overdrive. Foods like bread, rice, and pasta make your leptin levels spike constantly throughout the day. Over time, your cells get fed up with receiving constant “spam” messages from leptin – and eventually, they tune these messages out.

In other words, they become leptin-resistant. It’s as if leptin is repeatedly texting your cells, but they refuse to pick up the phone. When this happens, your cells no longer know that you’re full. Instead, they constantly think that you’re starving. Not just hungry… starving. So they scream out for calorie-dense food, and you can only fight that SOS for so long before you give in. This isn’t your fault. It’s just how you’re biologically wired to survive. So do not feel ashamed if you constantly have the urge to overeat. Instead, tackle the problem at its source: leptin resistance. 

How to Make Your Cells Leptin-Sensitive

A high-carb diet is the biggest culprit when it comes to leptin resistance. So the solution is clear: Switch to a low-carb diet that focuses on high-quality proteins, veggies, and fats. Also, banish any foods that contain fructose. Animal research links chronic fructose consumption to leptin resistance and overeating. Limit your use of artificial sweeteners as well, because they can cause leptin resistance. And here’s one more tip: Get more sleep. A large-scale sleep study showed that shortened sleep causes levels of leptin to drop, levels of ghrelin (a hormone that triggers hunger in a different way) to rise, and weight to increase.


 Above all, don’t let anyone shame you if you have trouble controlling your appetite. And don’t let friends, family members, or doctors bully your children about their weight. If you see that happening, take your inner tiger mom off her leash and let her roar.

And here’s one final tip: It takes time to reverse leptin resistance, so keep your fridge filled with healthful low-carb foods you can grab when the munchies strike. Today’s recipe is for a wonderful winter comfort food – done three different ways! – that can really quash those cravings. By the way, did you see my first MindBodyGreen article?

Keep thinking big and living bold!

-Dr. Kellyann