Leptin resistance, less discussed than insulin resistance, often exists in overweight and obese women and interferes with ability to lose weight.
Do you couch-compensate?
If you do your run, walk, zumba, do you subconsciously compensate the rest of the day with less activity?
You may be at risk if you’re in menopause. And it may be sabotaging your results.
A 2019 study shows the more women in menopause exercised the less active they were in their daily lives. Say you decide to relax on the couch instead of do housework, you enjoy a glass of wine (or two) on the deck instead of taking the stroll around the neighborhood… it all adds up.
To potentially, more weight and body fat.
In fact, it negatively affects your hormone levels, namely leptin tested in this study. Leptin is your satiety hormone, telling you to push away from the table or leave food on your plate (gasp!) because you’re done.
Leptin often misfires in overweight or obese individuals. It’s more common among those who are over-exercising yet under-moving. It’s a phenomenon likened to the all-too-common overeating but undernourished. And it’s relative. You don’t have to be a marathoner to be doing too much for you.
Not New News
Literature has long suggested that the amount of all day every day activity N.E.A.T. is more associated with overweight and obesity than is a gym or at home “workout” session. Even in gym-rats and regular exercisers. If they were more inactive the rest of the day, they are potentially doing less good than a moderate exerciser on the go all day.
Find the right dose of exercise to make you inclined to be more active all day.
Especially if you’re feeling so deserving that you overcompensate with food and or over couch-compensation, your exercise mindset can put you at risk.
How to Avoid Workout-to-Couch Trap
Track ALL your steps. Try removing your tracker when you’re exercising and compare your non-exercise activity time (N.E.A.T.) on days you exercise to days you don’t. Or to you before you start an “exercise” program to after you start an exercise program.
Mindset matters when it comes to exercise.
Is it punishment? Is it enjoyment? Is it rewarding? Are you trying to burn it off, tone it up, remove it, change it, because “it” now isn’t acceptable.
Exercise plans matters, too.
Is it an appropriate duration, frequency, intensity level for you? Is it based on your “allastatic load”? [the whole sum of stressors from all sources of life]
It can’t be just “exercise more.” In fact, that may contribute to hormone imbalances including leptin resistance. Less exercise – but the right exercise at the right time balances hormones. Too much, the wrong kind, or too much of the wrong kind of exercise could be killing your best energy and healthy weight.
Why You Care About Leptin
Leptin messages your brain how much fat you carry. It is the satiety hormone that tells your brain you’re full when you’ve consumed enough. But it can go haywire and in many obese adults leptin resistance is common. If you have leptin resistance you have plenty of fat but your cravings are high and you burn fewer calories when you are active.
What contributes to leptin resistance?
- High stress levels
- Lack of sleep
- High insulin levels (cravings>snacks>insulin>fat stores>cravings….)
- Too much exercise (of the wrong kind at the wrong time)
- Simple carb and sugar consumption
Solutions for leptin resistance:
- Avoid processed foods – they cause inflammation and increase cravings
- Avoid foods you’re intolerant to – they drive inflammation up, test don’t guess
- Eat soluble fiber – higher fiber consumption prevents and reduces obesity
- Exercise –do it late in the day for leptin resistance (not for all hormone balance)
You’ll boost your growth hormone by 60% with strength training than steady state exercise
You’ll double your energy expenditure from HIIT vs. continuous (steady) training
You’ve got to avoid injury and overtraining: HIIT all the time increases injury risk (there’s an upper limit)
- Sleep – take steps to support sleep in every choice you make all day
- Eat protein – protein and fiber together kill cravings and support fat burning
- Stop snacking – those small meals all day don’t give your liver the break it needs
- Lower triglycerides – reduce carbohydrates except for resistant starches (cut sugar!)
Last, stop dieting. Focus on micronutrient density. Make every bite count. Too few, too low quality, or junk calories each starve your body or confuse it, which slows your metabolism.
Start cooking. Buy and eat real food. Meal prep in your own kitchen is inversely related to risk of obesity. [So is being slightly lesssocial, more active, and working in an active job.] Many ways to cheat the system exist today for those with time constraints.
- already-chopped blends to start soups (onion, celery, carrots)
- crockpot or Instant Pot
- High-powered blenders (soups, smoothies, pesto, dips, dressings)
- One-pan (or pot) meals made-ahead
Leptin resistance can create a vicious cycle making weight loss seem impossible. The good news is, it is reversible. Don’t rely on willpower. It’s not a discipline problem, girl. It’s literally chemical and the right steps in the right sequence can support you.
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