The Mastering Leptin Lifestyle
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
In order to really take charge of leptin you have to actively manage it. Think of leptin as the conductor of your orchestra; will you play beautiful music or does your body suffer from out of tune noise?
If you think about those times when you felt like everything was clicking along – your energy, mood, intelligence, and your feeling of fitness – then those are examples of your conductor doing a good job to pull off an excellent performance.
Your body is made up of hundreds of trillions of cells, and health is reflected in the harmonious relationship of all your cells working together. How would you manage 100 trillion employees?
Leptin does this by synchronizing functions in your body. For example, before you go to sleep at night leptin levels are naturally high, which sets the tone for your pattern of hormone release during sleep. Leptin orchestrates the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, the repair and rejuvenation hormone called growth hormone, the drummer in your band – which is thyroid hormone, as well as synchronizing sex hormone release. When all this works right you sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed.
Leptin also oversees the elevation in your adrenal gland function in the morning, so that your body throws on all its light switches and gets going. If you drag around too long and can’t get in gear, the adrenal section in your orchestra is just not up to snuff.
Leptin also pulses regularly throughout your day, maintaining an energetic tone, a form of energy readiness, that can activate, as needed, to meet the demands of your day.
Women naturally have more body fat and leptin than men, to facilitate pregnancy and having the energy to nurse your child. During pregnancy Leptin regulates the growth of your placenta, protects your child’s evolving nervous system from damage, and is the single most important hormone to have working properly to have a successful and healthy full term pregnancy.
Leptin is doing all of this in addition to managing your intake of food and distribution of calories.
As the conductor of your orchestra, leptin doesn’t actually do the work; it coordinates and synchronizes the work. Leptin listens to each section of the orchestra to see how they sound. But leptin never takes orders from any section in the orchestra. Like any good boss, leptin listens to feedback and makes adjustments – but make no mistake, leptin is in full charge of the hormonal orchestra that manages everything that is going on in your body.
This gets us to an interesting concept. How do we live to be in harmony with leptin and make it easier for leptin to maintain your health. The Leptin Diet® is about eating in harmony with leptin. The Mastering Leptin Lifestyle is about living in harmony with leptin – of which your diet is one part. There are other important parts, these include stress management, getting adequate sleep, and of course exercise. When you put it all together into the total package then you are well on your way to living many years with a high quality of health.
First, let’s take a look at stress. Stress always means that there is an increased demand on you, which also means you need extra energy to deal with it. Your body can easily handle a certain amount of stress, and your energetic response to stress is overseen and managed by leptin. Problems occur when stress in ongoing, and like a rubber band stretching, sometimes it is just too much. Good nutrition can always help you offset the demands of stress – and along with that you need good stress management skills. You need to be a problem solver; otherwise you’ll be headed in the direction of being an overweight victim.
The more out of control or intense stress feels to you, especially on an ongoing basis, the more likely it is that you will develop leptin problems that induce weight gain and interfere with weight loss. No matter how chaotic or overwhelming your problems may seem, simply start taking steps in the right direction. Even small steps in the right direction can induce big changes in terms of how your subconscious brain feels – helping to stabilize leptin problems and get your metabolism back on track. And remember, enough small steps in the right direction will eventually add up to a full solution.
Getting adequate sleep is vital for the long-term well being of leptin and your body weight. This is partly because sleep is your prime metabolic fat burning time and also because leptin is orchestrating the proper repair and recovery of your body while you sleep. You need at least seven hours of sleep each night for optimal leptin function, and you often need eight hours per night if you are trying to lose weight. There is no effective way to make up for a lack of sleep.
And then there is the subject of exercise. And yes, I’ve heard every excuse there is as to why someone isn’t exercising on a regular basis. I’m too tired to exercise. I don’t have the time to exercise. Exercise is boring. The weather is bad. I just don’t feel like it today. Certainly there are those with compromised health and exercise is more of a challenge. But for the great majority, it is just plain laziness and a lack of self-discipline – a problem that is actually driven by stress and consequent leptin-induced fatigue. Interestingly, one of the very best ways to help get rid of this leptin-induced fatigue is to exercise, getting you out of a nasty rut.
When you do aerobic exercise the leptin receptors all over your body are improved, meaning that your 100 trillion cells are better able to follow metabolic instructions. Your subconscious boss, leptin, is much happier when orders are followed. When you do strength training exercise you turn on leptin gene function in muscles which enables your muscles to dispose of extra calories as heat – an excellent way to ramp up natural fat burning. And of course the more muscle you build over time, the better you are able to burn calories even when sitting in a chair. When you stretch you break up stagnation in your muscle-nerve junctions, enhancing the communication and feedback that leptin relies on to do a good job.
Any person seeking to maintain fitness, especially if weight loss is needed, needs at least one hour of exercise six days a week. Many need two hours per day, especially if their jobs are sedentary. If that sounds like a lot of time to you, just think of all the years of quality health you will be adding to your life. For optimal leptin conditioning, you need a mix of aerobics, strength building activities, and stretching/flexibility exercises.
If you leave your body parked in the garage and never take it out for a spin, even though you keep pumping it full of food, your leptin system will be clogged with surplus calories and your metabolism will eventually sputter to a halt.
In order to get your body and your metabolism working harmoniously you must get leptin firing on all cylinders. Things will always happen in your life that will pressure and test your leptin system. If you are up to the challenge then your metabolism will withstand these stressors and your health will be maintained. The ability to tolerate such demands is based on the core foundation of leptin stability you possess.
And the way to build a healthy leptin foundation is to follow good habits that I call the Mastering Leptin Lifestyle. This is a combination of proper diet, stress management, adequate sleep, and exercise. It is a way of life. It is actually fun – because it feels good. Your success is based on consistency. No matter what your current level of health or body weight, simply get yourself doing the right things as often as possible and you will begin to feel improvements in your energy, health, and well being.
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