The reality is at some point a weight loss diet will stop working. This is when people just give up, when they shouldn’t, it is part of the process and it can be overcome.
The body defends against weight loss.
Leptin is a signaller hormone for body fat. It is in proportion to how much body fat you have. The more body fat you have, the more leptin circulating in your blood.
If you drop body fat, your brain will hear it through leptin, and the brain doesn’t like that and will trigger a starvation response. It acts to maintain homeostasis in the body, think of leptin as a regulatory system of the body. Your body’s fat thermostat.
Subsequently, if your brain hears leptin has dropped then you start getting hungry, you start thinking about food more, food tastes and looks better and your metabolic rate may drop to preserve energy to replace the depleted stores.
This regulatory mechanism can malfunction, it can be reset to maintain a higher level. In industrialised countries this is happening, obesity is on the increase. People are gaining weight and it is difficult to lose that weight due to this leptin.
Leptin also does respond to recent food intake if you eat too much. If you eat a really big meal or overeat for days, your leptin will increase.
In obesity, it is frequent to see what is called leptin resistance.
The National Institutes of Health described leptin resistance as, “The failure of endogenous or exogenous leptin to promote anticipated salutary metabolic outcomes in states of over-nutrition or obesity.” (1). In other words, this is where you desensitise the leptin circuits and make them adapt to a higher requirement of leptin. Essentially the body requires more leptin to feel satisfied that you have enough body fat.
It important to note as well, this doesn’t happen so much if you are eating a healthy diet. It is something about high calories, processed, unnatural foods that has a greater impact on the leptin regulatory system.
Therefore in leptin resistance, where weight loss should see a decreased levels of leptin, this is not happening and this contributes to a vicious cycle of weight gain. A leptin resistance person requires more food than necessary to feel satisfied. In this person the brain not receiving the message that enough food has already been eaten.
When trying to lose body fat, do not give up once you plateau. Plateaus or to gain weight is very normal (most people will get this in weeks 6 to 8). Your diet may not be necessarily wrong for you. It is just that your body is now fighting really hard to get your thermostat body fat up again. Too many people give up right before the miracle happens, in many areas of life.
As a nutritionist, Elizabeth uses the latest research into the set point theory and leptin resistance when developing fat loss plans. This is why you don’t see strict weight loss diets from day one. This approach would send the body into starvation mode and cause havoc. It is not suitable if you want long term results. Do your research and think about the consequences before embarking on any diet ‘challenge’ you find online or developed as part of a weight loss competition. Your health is not a competition.
For more information on the effects of starvation and set point please read the article on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.
To book in for a fat loss consultation please get in touch, bookings can be made online or contact Elizabeth directly.