July 9, 2008

In The News: Battling With Leptin

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the findings of a recent Columbia University Medical Center brain scan study which found that "when humans (and rodents) lose 10% or more of their body weight, [a hormone known as] leptin falls rapidly and sets off a cascade of physiological changes that act to put weight back on. Skeletal muscles work more efficiently, thyroid and other hormones are reduced -- all so the body burns 15% to 20% fewer calories, enough to put back 25 pounds or more a year."

This partially helps to explain why crash diets never work long-term. They are such a sudden shock to the body that our metabolism starts working against – rather than with – the weight loss.

This also makes the case for long-term approaches to weight loss that implement behavior modification and a slow but steady overhaul of eating habits and dietary patterns.

The important of physical activity is also front and center here, since all forms -- and especially weight-bearing exercises -- prevent basal metabolic rate from slowing down.

As lead author Michael Rosenbaum states, "Anybody who has lost weight and kept it off will tell you that they have to keep battling. They have essentially reinvented themselves."

Thank you to Fred Tripp for forwarding me this article.


aishchai said...

Does the article say in what time period the 10% loss would trigger leptin release?

It just makes nmore sense to slowly lose the weight, but vanity and pride always urges me to want to lose more quickly.

Anonymous said...

Worth pointing out that eating breakfast--complex carbs, proteins, and fats--can boost leptin production early in the day.

Andy Bellatti said...


The article doesn't mention a specific time frame.

However, keep in mind that dramatic shifts in caloric intake are counteractive, since they slow down metabolism.

Add that to lower leptin production and you can begin to understand why crash dieting is doomed for failure from Day 1.