Cutting to the chase: The single reason why you can’t lose weight is that hormones, not calories, determine weight loss and fitness. Leptin is the most powerful hormone in the human body due to its role in fat metabolism.

Hormones, not calories, control your weight. Food is a cornerstone of human civilization. It serves as a way of maintaining vitality, a source of entertainment and an object of pleasure. But used wrongfully it can be our worst enemy – a cause of multiple diseases and premature death.

Obesity has reached frightening levels and became a major cause of death in the USA once you include illnesses caused by extra weight. It became a major economic burden to society and a cause of ever-rising health care and prescription drug costs.

When you consider the reasons why you can’t lose weight, you crave food for various reasons. Constant stress and lack of time, snacking on-the-go and late night munchies can lead us to poor nutrition choices.

Add to this eating for entertainment and for comfort, lack of physical activity and a general low-nutrient quality of modern food and you get the picture as to why you can’t lose weight.

Millions of people regularly try to lose weight but also regularly get stuck. Fad diets and yo-yoing can be harmful to your health and most weight loss pills do not help. Willpower goes only so far. Even those lucky ones who manage to reduce body fat and lose weight through good diet and exercise often get it all back as easily. Is there a hidden reason for this?

Yes, there is. It is a tug of war between two hormones responsible for food saturation in the body. Food saturation has little to do with food quantity but rather with the way the brain interprets it.

Your endocrine system produces two hormones responsible for food – leptin, and ghrelin. The former is known as “the satiety hormone”, and the latter as “the hunger hormone”.

Both play a vital role in energy balance by telling the brain whether the body is saturated or starving. When in balance, energy uptake and energy expenditure offset each other. But when an imbalance occurs proper food metabolism is broken.

One may think that obese people have too little leptin thus tricking the brain into thinking that the body is starving and therefore needs more food. But what happens, in reality, is the exact opposite. People with extra weight suffer from so-called “leptin resistance”. It acts the same way as insulin resistance.

The leptin levels are elevated but cannot produce an adequate effect in order to stimulate fat loss. In short, the brain does not get the message – instead of working on fat metabolism the body actually initiates fat storage. Left to its own devices this leads to a vicious circle of constant fat gain.

Targeting leptin resistance

Given this, targeting leptin resistance should be a goal of anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it down.

Let’s start with looking at factors that contribute to leptin resistance. As with all bodily malfunctions, especially those related to imbalances of the endocrine system, no single factor can be pinpointed as the cause. However, there are a few primary candidates:

  • Over eating, this is obvious. Portion control is vitally important in order to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Too many fatty foods, especially the saturated fats found in fatty cuts of meat, high-fat dairy foods such as full-fat milk, butter, cream, sour cream, and ice cream. Quality and quantities are always key when it comes to consuming fatty foods. Better to stick to the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are found in olives, nuts, seeds, avocados, fish, and oils made from olives, safflower, soybeans, and canola.
  • Sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup found in most processed foods. Consuming too much sugar leads to an increase in insulin levels. This initiates a chain reaction during which your triglyceride levels go up and interfere with leptin delivery to the brain.
  • Insulin is a fat-storing hormone.  People who are insulin resistance should avoid consuming sugary foods, including carbohydrates. The difficulty is that if there’s too much insulin in your body, you may crave more sugary foods including carbohydrates, saturated fats and excessive alcohol causing blood sugar spikes.
  • Too much Cortisol, the stress hormones affects our immune system, memory, blood pressure, cholesterol and attributes to weight gain. Other causes of elevated cortisol release are overactive adrenal glands, strenuous exercise, and fasting.
  • Grain and legume consumption. Lectins that are present in grains and legumes block leptin receptors which in turn leads to a feeling of starvation and a necessity to store fat.

With this in mind we can target our attacks in the weight loss battle more precisely:

  • Have your meals spread evenly during the day and eat small portions. Give the body (and liver in particular) time it requires to digest and process food. This will help stabilize insulin and leptin levels.
  • Avoid snacking between meals. Give the body periods of complete rest.
  • Exclude from diet simple carbohydrates, sugar, fructose, fried and refined foods (this advice works for any health problems).
  • Cut down on alcohol or eliminate it completely (at least for the time being).
  • An adequate amount of sleep is essential for reducing stress and stabilizing cortisol levels.
  • Be mindful when choosing the type and intensity of your exercise routine. During the initial stage of a weight loss program less exercise is better, with more focus on quieter activities like walking, swimming, Pilates, and yoga, but less intense, high impact cardio exercise. High-intensity interval training may be used with caution. After you get to the desired point you may return to your normal exercise routine.
  • A well-planned detoxification routine will help remove toxins from your body, thus further reducing stress. Staying hydrated also helps with toxin elimination but avoid sugary drinks and most fruit juices. Water is the best purifier.

The single reason why you can’t lose weight is that hormones, not calories, determine weight loss and fitness. Leptin is the most powerful hormone in the human body due to its role in fat metabolism. Knowing how to treat it with respect will help you greatly on your way to optimal weight.

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