Leptin supplements are heavily advertised for weight loss. It is sometimes referred to as the obesity hormone, although a more accurate description would be the “starvation hormone”. In addition to being a hormone, it is one of the many cell-signaling proteins.
SO WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
The protein performs many functions in the human body. The function that has generated interest in supplementation for obese individuals has to do with satiety. Normally, the signal sent to the brain would be one of satisfaction. You would get signals from your brain saying, “I am satisfied. I don’t need to eat more right now.”
The hormone is produced by fat tissue. People with a lot of body fat typically have high levels of this hormone circulating in their bloodstream. There are a few people in the world who have a genetic condition that prevents fat tissue from producing the hormone. For those people, injections of leptin for weight loss as opposed to leptin supplements have worked. For the average person, the injections do not work.
In order to have any effect, the hormone would have to be injected. In the digestive system, it is viewed simply as a protein. The protein is broken down into component amino acids. So, taking a supplement does not raise blood levels of the hormone at all. That doesn’t necessarily mean that none of the leptin supplements on the market are worth taking. Some of them don’t even contain the hormone. They contain ingredients that boost production within the body or they address issues that can cause you to become leptin resistant.
Cellular resistance to the hormone is actually thought to be the big problem. The resistance is similar to what occurs in type II diabetes. In type II diabetes and the pre-diabetic state, insulin levels are very high, higher than they should be. The cells of the body become resistant to the insulin. Research has shown that there is a strong connection between insulin-resistance and being leptin resistant.
Raising circulating blood levels of either of the hormones is not the answer. The answer is to allow the cells to become sensitive to the hormones once again. The latest studies indicate that lowering blood triglycerides is the key to achieving that goal.
The original theories about using leptin for solving obesity were not exactly wrong. If the cells in a person’s brain can recognize the signals sent out by the hormone, then they will eat less or eat normally. Blood triglycerides disrupt the signal. You might say that triglycerides clog the cellular receptors that would normally receive the insulin and leptin signals.
Leptin supplements are really not right for anyone if they contain the actual protein or hormone. They could be helpful if they contain fiber or other nutrients that lower blood triglycerides. But the real solution to lowering triglycerides is to change how you eat and change your lifestyle.
Leptin deficiency is a rare thing and even if you had a deficiency, leptin supplements would not work. There really are no magic pills for obesity or weight loss.