Do a Google search on "leptin fat loss pill" and you'll get a mix of hit's from goofy unproven fads to research projects showing some promise of fat loss in a pill that contains leptin.
This Science Centric article reveals researchers in Montreal may be close to making a "gimmick free" fat loss pill. I've heard this before. So far no fat loss pills have been made that produce better results than what lifestyle changes bring.
Leptin is a hormone that makes you feel full; it signals the brain when you have had enough to eat. The more overweight we become the more leptin circulates in our blood. Fat cells produce leptin.. more fat in fat cells and increased number of fat cells make more leptin.
Wait a minute.. if leptin makes you feel full, and more leptin is produced when we're overweight, shouldn't more leptin make you fell less hungry, and wouldn't you lose weight from eating less?
Normally it would. But when we become really overweight high leptin levels become chronic and we develop a resistance to it; we become desensitized to the signal that makes us feel full. Additionally another hormone, ghrelin- a hormone that makes us feel hungry, is released in larger amounts when we eat too much and become overweight.
The combination of being leptin resistant plus lower leptin levels means a person would feel even more hungry as they lose weight. As though losing weight wasn't challenging enough we have a built in ironic weight loss hormonal road block.
OK, if all this hormone-hunger business is true, then how do we explain all those people who get passed this and lose weight successfully without pills? That's the million dollar question and I'm so glad you asked it.
In combination with dietary changes that include eating fewer calories than are expended plus eating high nutrient density foods and exercising regularly, those who are successful with long term weight loss have learned to understand their own thoughts and feelings where eating is concerned.
So the key to weight loss is a touchy-feely couch session?
The couch might make you feel more comfortable, but for sure some of that touchy-feely emotional self recognition stuff is a key component equally as important as the actual calorie deficit and exercise.
When we find ourselves eating for seemingly no reason, or eating when happy, tired, sad, excited, frustrated, or eating when watch TV, read, go to a movie, go to a social gathering...
See the pattern here? Our eating choices can easily become automated choices based on our emotional state or situational environment. Why do you feel obligated to eat everything on your plate? If the food you need for sustenance covers half the plate, what is the point in finishing the other half?
Could it be we have become socialized and habitualized to "clean our plate"? That's what the research shows. What feelings would you have if you only ate half the food on your plate? Would you feel that you hadn't done your duty? Guilty? What comments do you think others would make? Do you think people might say, "hey great choice on not overeating." Or, "You're not going to finish that? Don't you like it? Are you feeling OK?"
But wait there's more.. Did you know that if you have extra food on the table in serving bowls, and use larger plates, you're likely to serve yourself more without being cognizant of it? Simply having food in our line of sight stimulates appetite.
The way we overcome the challenge of feeling hungry when we're not really hungry but rather a hormone mix up is sending the wrong signals, or when we engage in mindless eating (definitely click on that link- you'll learn about some reasons why eat too much without knowing it)..
.. is to review why we are making the choices we make. Before we bite into that whatever, ask, "why am I eating this? Do I need this food? Do I want this because I'm craving the flavour, or because I am actually hungry?
Am I doing emotional eating, habitual eating, or do I really need the calories in front of my face?
Did I just serve myself 500 extra calories because I have a large plate, or because I actually need more calories?
When we look at the whole picture it becomes clear that something like a fat loss pill, even if our researchers can find a way to make the leptin pill work on a hormonal level, it won't change the size of plates we have in our cupboard, the socialization of overeating at holiday dinners, hidden calories in salads that look healthy but have an extra 500 calories in fatty dressings, and our life long emotional rationalization of eating habits.
Hey this is getting complicated! You think? Maybe this is why there is a 95% failure rate when trying lose weight and keep it off?
There is no single variable that will help a person lose weight permanently.
The big four variables are:
1) Eating fewer calories than we burn off- calories in/ calories out
2) How we associate reward value and emotional state with eating and other healthy living choices
3) Regular exercise
4) Comprehending our eating environmental triggers: family dinners, bigger plates, being offered more food, all make us more likely to overeat.
Do those four things successfully and you will lose weight and keep it off. Any caveats? Yes. You can't just do those four things for a couple weeks or a few months. It's a permanent change in habits and values.
Keep the old values and you'll always be battling the desire to return to the old habits and the weight will come back faster than you lost it.