Do you feel hungry again soon after eating? Test if you are leptin resistant

Do you feel hungry again soon after eating?
Last week I received a desperate email from Heleen. She told me that she kept feeling hungry all day long.  Shortly after dinner this feeling went away but after an hour she had the feeling that she needed something again. Especially in the evening the fence of the dam went off. “Marjolein, I know I’m eating too much but it just seems like my body keeps crying out for food. What is this and what can I do about it? Help!” Do you recognize this?   Then let me tell you something about the hormone leptin. This is especially important information for women.

Leptin or the satiety hormone

The easiest thing to remember is that leptin is your satiety hormone. It is a peptide hormone that is mainly produced in your fat cells. Leptin is then sent through your bloodstream to the hypothalamus in your brain. (Your hypothalamus regulates, among other things, your feeling of hunger and satiety). From here, during a meal, a message is sent to other cells that you have eaten enough. If it all works as intended.

Since women have more fat cells than men, we seem to have an advantage. More fat cells, more leptin production, more of a feeling of satiety. However? Unfortunately, this advantage works against us in several situations.

Leptin is produced in your fat cells and tells other cells that you have eaten enough.

Leptin resistance: when the receptors for leptin stop working properly

Hormones are best seen as substances with a message. In this case the message: “Stop it, you’ve eaten enough” . Creating the message is step 1; delivering the message is step 2. A message has to reach certain cells and is received there by the receptors of those cells. If these receptors have had to process the message very often, they can become ‘deaf’ to it. The message is then no longer clear.   They then no longer take up leptin in the cell.

Especially if there is overweight and therefore a lot of leptin production, those cells slowly but surely become deaf. This is called leptin resistance and works the same as insulin resistance: the hormone is no longer absorbed into the cell.

An unhealthy vicious circle: you are overweight, your body produces a lot of leptin, your cells become insensitive to this, you remain hungry, you eat too much, you become even more overweight, your body produces even more leptin, etc. etc.

Many overweight women feel really starved!

There could be many reasons why you struggle with being overweight. But if you’re overweight because you don’t get enough of the “I’ve eaten enough” signal, you’re probably leptin resistant. Then no longer torment yourself with the idea that you don’t have the willpower to stop eating in time or that you suffer from binge eating. It’s never a matter of willpower: your body is really convinced that it hasn’t been given enough food! In fact, your body feels like you’re starving yourself!

People with leptin resistance are usually overweight while their body continues to scream that it is starving.

Note: both too little and too much leptin in the blood is thus seen by the hypothalamus as a signal that the body is starving. If the brain signals that there is too little food, it switches to the energy saving mode and is very economical with calories. So even if you were to eat less, you would still not lose weight.

When the brain signals that there is too little food, the body switches to the economy mode and almost every calorie is stored as fat.

Do you feel hungry again soon after eating?

Are you leptin resistant? Test yourself

There are several signals from your body that can tell you that you are leptin resistant. Do you recognize these in the past six months:

  1. Getting too little feeling of satiety
  2. Sniffing showers especially after 5 o’clock in the afternoon and in the evening
  3. Need sweet drinks such as fruit juices, sweet green smoothies, soda or energy drinks?
  4. Overweight (BMI over 25)
  5. Gaining weight during menopause, especially around your waist?
  6. Tiredness after exercise and difficulty recovering quickly?
  7. Joint Problems: Painful or Stiff Joints?

If you have four of the seven symptoms, chances are your cells have become deaf to leptin. Even if you are slim.

You can also be slim but still be leptin resistant

Even if you are slim, your cells may have become deaf to the satiety hormone. The fat in slim women is not so much on the outside but on the inside: between the organs. Usually in the abdomen. These women appear healthy, but they don’t have to be. Slim women who are leptin resistant often have little muscle mass. Their fat-muscle ratio is out of balance.

Leptin and painful joints? Indeed!

The bad thing about leptin resistance is that too much leptin keeps circulating in your blood because it can’t get into the cells. This causes problems with your immune system, among other things. If your immune system does not work properly, chronic inflammation is lurking: the cause of all kinds of chronic diseases. Infertility, painful joints and weaker bones are also related to leptin resistance. Leptin accelerates the breakdown of cartilage between the joints.

A continuously high level of the hormone leptin in your blood causes all kinds of problems in the body.

How do you get it?

Leptin resistance has several causes, largely related to our diet. An important cause of leptin resistance is an excess of the hormone insulin. Insulin blocks the action of leptin. How do you get too much insulin? By eating everything in your body is converted to glucose in your blood. This glucose has to be brought to your cells by insulin. Too much glucose: too much insulin.

What causes your blood glucose to rise? Many people only think of sweets, but it is much more.

All forms of sweets, processed foods, some food additives, dairy, bread products, grains, starch, some of the light products, coffee, alcohol, stress and overeating all cause your blood glucose to rise.

The hormone insulin is the ultimate fat maker. The above list contains the main causes of obesity. 

An excess of fructose is also an important cause of leptin resistance. A large glass of orange juice is really not that healthy for you! It contains 20mg of fructose. Furthermore, too high a level of triglycerides in your blood also blocks the action of leptin in your brain. You can have this measured in your blood.

How do you get rid of it and become sensitive to leptin again?

The good news is that you can start making your body sensitive to leptin today. Let me start with what you can eat to initially satisfy your hunger pangs:

  1. Start your day with healthy proteins and fats. Make a vegetable omelette or scrambled eggs. Or eat a piece of chicken or salmon with vegetables. In any case, DO NOT start your day with fruit or dairy because that can cause cravings for sweets later in the day. Be careful with protein shakes: they usually contain a lot of sugar.
  2. Eat healthy fats: I can’t say it often enough: healthy fats are good for you! They are your main energizers and the basis of your hormones. In addition, they give a feeling of satiety. So eat avocados, unroasted nuts, seeds, kernels, eggs, olives, fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, nut butters and coconut products. I understand that you find this very exciting if you are struggling with overweight. Do this at the same time as point 3:
  3. Eliminate everything that makes glucose in your body as much as possible. See the list above. Insulin resistance and leptin resistance are related. The advantage is that you get rid of both if you delete the same products. First, focus on sweets (especially drinks) and processed products. Then extend this to bread products, other grains and alcohol.
  4. Also be careful with fruit. Fruit has been grown much sweeter in recent years than it was originally, which has led to an increase in fructose levels. Red fruit is good.
  5. You can eat plenty of vegetables in all colors of the rainbow. Try eating 5 ounces of vegetables a day. You will see that this is a lot. Eat vegetables at both lunch and dinner, but you can also eat them at breakfast. Vary it as much as possible. Tubers and roots are also part of this.
  6. Try to snack as little as possible. I know, that’s difficult. Snacking has often become a habit for people with insulin or leptin resistance. Plan your meals well and try not to eat for 4 hours in between. This is the fastest way to reset your body.

Alcoholic drinks are sugar bombs. Leptin and the liver work closely together. Don’t drink alcohol for a while.

Ideally, the majority of your diet consists of vegetables and healthy fats.

stress and nutrition

Unfortunately, some pills only make it worse

When this hormone was discovered in 1994, it was thought that they had the solution against obesity. Unfortunately, administration of leptin had the opposite effect. I wrote it before: both too much and too little leptin makes you hungry.

Hormones are always about balance!

Believe me, if there was a harmless pill on the market to get rid of this, I would tell you. In America, there are supplements known as leptin pills. However, they never contain this hormone, but often something that suppresses inflammation. Making your body less sensitive to inflammation promotes sensitivity to leptin, which is fine, of course. However, you can also do this with food. Read the article here: 8 nutritional tips to combat inflammation. Starting your day with a large pot of ginger and turmeric tea is also an excellent idea.


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