I think most of us are looking for a "magic bullet" solution to weight loss nowadays, aren't we? Five years ago, I lost 100 pounds the traditional way - with lots of hard work and tears along the journey. I would have given anything to take a pill that would make it quick and easy!
If you've been reading my series on leptin, the so-called "obesity hormone" or "fullness hormone", you're probably wondering if leptin supplements and similar hormone supplements are any good. If you haven't read my leptin series yet, I recommend it. Discovering leptin turned my views on weight loss upside down. It explains why it's so difficult, for starters.
In this article I'll cover everything you need to know about leptin - natural supplements, leptin supplements side effects, where to buy leptin supplements and most importantly, my in-depth leptin supplements review.
What's the Deal With Leptin?
Leptin is a hormone produced by our fat cells. The more fat cells we have, the more leptin is produced.
Leptin travels through our blood to our brain where it sends a "full" signal. It also interacts with our tastebuds and reward system to make it easier to resist cravings. Elsewhere, it increases metabolism and calorie burn.
This should mean that when our bodies have sufficient fat stores, leptin's signalling chain will make us stop eating. However, that's not the case. In the developed world, overabundance of high calorie food has created something called "leptin resistance". What this means is that in overweight and obese people, the leptin communication chain is broken.
Those carrying extra weight have lots of leptin in their blood however the signal doesn't reach the brain. Your body may be over-fed but your brain thinks you're starving.
There is a lot of controversy around leptin supplementation. For starters, leptin is a natural protein, the same as the meat, fish and legumes we consume in our diet. If we were to take a leptin pill, we would simply digest and break it down. It would never reach our brains intact.
Secondly, there are no true leptin supplements on the market for weight loss. In very rare cases where a person cannot produce leptin at all, they may be given a leptin injection by a licensed physician, however this only applies to a tiny amount of cases.
Most people looking to lose weight have tons of leptin flowing through their bloodstreams. Adding more will make no difference if they are leptin resistant. The supplements that I've selected contain ingredients which help to balance leptin levels and return them to normal. These range from herbal supplements to healthy fats to other hormone supplements.
Some of the above actually decrease leptin, which may seem counterintuitive. Consider it a balancing act. Lowering blood leptin in overweight people will increase sensitivity in the long run. However it may cause hunger sensations if not counteracted with an appetite suppressant such as green tea extract. (source)
What to Look for In a Leptin Supplement
We know now that leptin supplements sold online don't contain any leptin but rather complementary nutrients to balance your hormones and metabolism. Research is far from conclusive in this area but I've picked the best ingredients to look out for when choosing a supplement to increase leptin sensitivity.
- Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA)
CLA has been associated with weight loss in many studies. It's believed to have a lowering effect on leptin, in turn increasing sensitivity.
A study at at Ohio State and Purdue Universities took a group of diabetic patients. One group were given a daily CLA supplement whereas the other group was given a placebo.
Those who consumed CLA had a lower body mass than those taking the placebo. Leptin levels in the blood reduced along with blood sugar levels. (source)
Melatonin is a natural sleep-promoting hormone found in some "leptin" supplements. If you suffer from insufficient or broken sleep, this could help balance your system and keep your cravings in check.
- African Wild Mango
You can find natural remedies to aid almost any condition nowadays, but what about herbs to increase leptin? One natural option comes in the form of a fruit - the African wild mango or "Irvingia gabonensis"
One study has shown a link between leptin levels, weight loss and an extract from this fruit named "IGOB131". Over 4 weeks, the extract or a placebo were given to 40 overweight participants, along with a low fat diet. The group who were given the mango supplement lost about 5.6% of body weight whereas the placebo group lost about 1%.
L-carnitine is a protein often found in bodybuilding supplements. However, it's also useful for weight loss. It's capable of balancing leptin and may make it easier to stick to a low calorie diet.
A study on overweight or obese premenopausal women tested a carnitine supplement against a placebo. The carnitine group experienced a decrease of 4.5% in body mass and lost 6.5% in waist circumference.
How to Take a Leptin Supplement
Leptin supplements should be taken in the morning with a large glass of water, unless they contain melatonin in which case you should take them within half an hour of sleep.
If you experience nausea when introducing these pills, you should take some food directly before or after your dose.Always consult a healthcare professional before taking any type of supplement. This is especially important if you have an ongoing health condition or take a prescription medicine.
Leptin Supplements Review
Side Effects and Precautions
As I've mentioned above, leptin itself isn't available at the moment as a treatment for weight loss. If, in the future these type of products are developed, there are several side effects to keep in mind. If you have an oversupply of leptin in your blood due to excess weight and leptin resistance, you may also notice these symptoms.
Firstly, leptin's link with our metabolism means it causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. A more unusual side effect is the increase in urine output and perspiration. Basically when your metabolism rises, every system of your body starts to work in overdrive.
High leptin also causes insomnia due to its stimulant effect. This makes sense when you remember that leptin levels can be normalised with the sleep supplement melatonin.
Leptin also increases fertility in women, increasing chances of pregnancy. In fact, it's used as a fertility treatment in some instances. High leptin also results in nausea in many users.
Some more dangerous side effects of leptin are a drop in blood sugar and risk of hypoglycaemia in diabetics. There's also a link between high leptin levels and many cancers and autoimmune diseases. Further research is needed in this area but this is enough to convince me to balance my leptin naturally rather than looking for a direct dose with leptin pills.
Other Ways to Increase Leptin
An addition to supplements, there are many other natural ways to balance your leptin levels. A healthy diet high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates is one proven treatment.
If you're not sure where to start with a full meal-plan overhaul, The Venus Factor might be a good option for you. The Venus Factor is a diet system aimed at optimizing leptin levels for weight loss.
The Last Word on Leptin Supplements
The world of leptin supplements - and weight loss supplements in general - can be confusing. Even after my extensive research, it's hard to pick a clear winner from the products I've reviewed. Each offers something a little different so it's best to evaluate them based on your own needs.
If I had to choose, NatureWise CLA 1250 would be first on my list to try. It doesn't have a complicated list of ingredients - all you're dealing with is conjugated linoleic acids. The dose is quite moderate too.
Have you tried any leptin supplements? What's your favourite product from this list, or do you have another choice? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you.