Does Low Leptin Doom Dieting?
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist Byron J. Richards,
The drug industry is doing everything in its power to get leptin drugs on the market for some type of widespread weight-loss angle. The problem is that such drugs don’t work, because just about everyone who is overweight makes too much leptin. This was apparent back in 2002 when there were only 5000 leptin studies, now there are 14,000. Consumer beware – researchers paid by Big Pharma are actively and intentionally creating a twisted misrepresentation relating to how leptin works, solely to sell drugs.
Studies are coming out almost daily with this agenda. A typical case in point is a recent study with this heading for its press release1, “Battle of the bulge: Low leptin levels undermine successful weight loss.” The researchers did brain imaging tests on individuals who had lost weight, noticing that after weight loss various brain regions associated with food desire would “light up” when viewing pictures of desirable food. When they injected some of the participants with leptin their brain regions no longer lit up. From this study they concluded that weight loss failure was due to a deficiency of leptin and that giving leptin to individuals who had lost weight would reduce their desire for food and prevent them from gaining weight back (which they didn’t bother proving because they would never be able to).
The goal of this type of study is obvious – to build a “scientific” rational for allowing leptin drugs into widespread use. In this case, the drugs would be allowed for “weight maintenance following weight loss.” Once on the market it would be off-label used for anything and everything relating to weight loss – a real disaster. The drug companies would train and pay key physicians to act as sales reps, promoting all manner of fraud. This is the world in which we live – the principles of Big Pharma Marketing 101.
Leptin is not an easy hormone for most people to understand. You actually have to take some time to familiarize yourself with how it works and what it is doing. While the five simple rules of the Leptin Diet are the foundation for successfully managing leptin and losing weight in a healthy way – there are many nuances that are helpful to understand – especially as they relate to your specific symptoms and how your body weight is doing.
Leptin has various modes of operation, depending on the availability of food over a period of time. One of those modes is “starvation mode,” meaning that there is not enough food around so slow down metabolism so that your body does not starve to death (handy for survival in caveman times). Most certainly this mode will result in cravings for food – you need food in order to survive. This is not a deficiency of leptin needing a drug; it is a normal mode of leptin’s operation in relationship to a scarcity of food.
Your goal is to lose weight without entering this starvation mode. It is easy to tell when you go into a starvation mode while dieting. Your head is heavy too often and your muscles don’t have good energy. You are craving food, and you feel a lot better, at least for a while, if you over-consume food you know you shouldn’t eat. If you are stuck in this starvation mode for any length of time you are at risk for getting sick, as your immune system is too tired to work right.
When you aren’t in a starvation mode your head is wide awake most of the day, your energy is good, you are exercising and feeling fit, and your cravings are under control. If you stay in this pattern your weight loss will be permanent because you obviously never went into a “low leptin starvation mode” while you were losing weight. To do this requires getting adequate sleep, managing stress well, consistent exercise, eating well, and using dietary supplements as needed to help keep you in this mode.
Digging into the above research one finds that the study was conducted on obese individuals who lost 10% of their weight by starving them on a low calorie diet. All the researchers actually proved is that there is such a thing as a leptin starvation mode, which was already known. Giving them leptin drugs turned off their desire to eat, just like eating a large meal would have done – so what? Giving them drugs didn’t make them lose weight, and if the study actually would have tested this it would have found they would have gained weight with ongoing leptin use (which the researchers probably knew so they didn’t want to test it). They certainly would not have lost more weight, even though these obese individuals were far from an acceptable weight.
In essence the research conclusion that “low leptin levels undermine successful weight loss” is completely out of context and wrong. I am giving this to you as one flagrant example of scientific abuse that has drug sales as a goal. This is becoming the norm in such research, not just for leptin drugs but for all drugs. The bottom line is that drugs are only good as temporary solutions in almost every situation. Real health requires you know your body and how to manage it on a consistent basis. Understanding leptin is vital not only to weight management but to your long term vitality and quality of health.
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