Menopause is a time of great stress and disruption to your daily life, and it is important to understand how your hormones work to ensure that their levels can be effectively maintained. Leptin, also known as the “hunger hormone”, is a little-known, but important factor in appetite and weight gain. If you are suffering from menopausal weight gain, keep reading to find out how this key hormone can help or hinder your slimming attempts.
Leptin is a protein hormone which has a fundamental role in controlling appetite through monitoring energy intake and fat stores in the body, as well as regulating metabolism. It does so by acting directly on the receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain. It also has an impact on processes such as fertility, bone health, libido, immunity, and puberty. Despite its many key functions in the body, general knowledge of leptin is scant.
It wasn't until the 1950's that doctors first observed the effects of leptin, where it was discovered that a mutation in the gene that produces leptin caused obesity and lethargy in mice. The effects weren't scientifically explained until the 1990's, so research into leptin is still recent and ongoing.
Leptin and Weight Gain
One of the biggest signs and symptoms of menopause is weight gain, usually seen around the abdomen. Low estrogen levels are usually to blame for menopausal weight gain, and for redistribution of fat around the middle of the body.
As leptin regulates appetite and metabolism, it is necessary to ensure that it is working at its potential to limit the chances of gaining weight. When leptin isn't functioning properly, it inhibits the ability to shed unwanted pounds. When levels of leptin are low, the brain tells you to eat more, as it thinks that there isn't enough fat stored in the body. On the other hand, overweight people may have chronically high levels of leptin and develop a tolerance to this hormone.
This may be the reason why leptin treatments, such as supplements and injections, have had limited success in provoking weight loss. While they can work for people who do not produce enough leptin, people who have a reduced response to it will show no improvement.
More about Leptin and Menopause
There are many factors as to why menopausal women gain weight more easily and find the pounds harder to shift. Low levels of leptin could be one of them, although arguably not as important as other hormones, such as estrogen.
Lifestyle factors also influence weight gain during menopause, and it is important to address these issues to keep your weight down and avoid the complications that obesity in postmenopause brings. Simple things you can do to avoid weight gain during menopause include making healthy changes to your diet, exercising regularly and taking herbal supplements. Click on the following link to learn more about hormonal imbalance.