Broad Bean & Brown Rice Soup is a great “filler-upper” – it’s full of fibre, thanks to the broad beans, and really helps to balance leptin.
Are you struggling to lose weight? It might be down to your leptin hormones – Lowri Turner shows you the tell-tale signs, and what you can do about it.
Some of the most interesting research into why certain people put on weight and others don’t has focused on hormones produced by our own fat. These include metabolic hormones such as leptin and the role it plays in letting our bodies know we’re full.
Answer the following 10 questions and find out if your levels of leptin need balancing. Consider each of the following statements and rate yourself on a scale of 1–5, with 1: strongly disagree, 2: disagree, 3: not sure, 4: agree and 5: strongly agree.
1. I feel hungry all the time.
2. I have a blood pressure of 130/80 or above (rate yourself 5 if true and 1 if false).
3. I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (rate yourself 5 if true and 1 if false).
4. I gain weight round my middle.
5. I am more than 13kg (2st) overweight (rate yourself 5 if true and 1 if false).
6. I have new stretch marks, skin tags (benign growths) or Acanthosis Nigricans (AN) – a sort of dark staining on the skin under the armpits. It can also appear around your neck or in skin folds.
7. I work shifts, travel a great deal or have small children who disrupt my sleep.
8. I suffer from spots/excess hair along my jaw line.
9. I crave bulky foods like pasta, rice and potatoes.
10. I know I need to lose weight, but however little I eat, I don’t lose weight.
Add up your scores. If you scored 30 or more out of 50, you may find it easier to lose weight if you balance your leptin levels. There are two problems with the hormone leptin that could be causing you to put on weight: leptin depletion, in which your fat cells can’t produce leptin, and more commonly, leptin resistance, in which you produce a high level of leptin but it doesn’t have the normal effect of telling you that you’re full. In both cases, your brain thinks you’re starving, so it increases your appetite and slows down your metabolism – when actually your jeans are getting tighter and tighter!
How does leptin affect my appetite?
Leptin tells our brains when we have enough body fat, triggers a drop in appetite and speeds up metabolism – burning up excess body fat in the process. Leptin production follows a circadian rhythm, that is, it rises and falls over a 24-hour cycle. Peak production of leptin is at night, so if you work night shifts, travel through different time zones or have a young baby who keeps you awake in the wee hours, you may develop leptin problems and gain weight.
What foods should I eat?
Foods rich in resistant starch, such as oats, can help those with leptin issues, as resistant starch speeds up your metabolism and reduces your appetite. You can also utilize other appetite-controlling hormones, such as ghrelin. Ghrelin levels increase before meals and go down again after meals. One way to reduce ghrelin is to stretch the stomach by eating high-volume foods (those with high water and high fibre content). The best foods to stabilize leptin include:
- Eggs and lean protein
- Green bananas
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish
In her book The S Factor Diet, broadcaster and journalist turned nutritionist, Lowri Turner, has devised a 14 day meal plan to balance your leptin levels. The 7 day Phase 1 is based around lean protein and high-volume, low-cal foods – that is to say vegetables. To help you feel full, it also includes grains like oats, which are a good source of resistant starch.
A sample day’s menu:
- Breakfast Fruity Yogurt Crunch
- Lunch Mini Feta-Stuffed Lamb Burgers with Polenta Muffins
- Dinner Polenta-Crusted Chicken with Cauliflower “Mash”
- Raspberry Granita
- S Factor Snack Apricot & Oat Cookies
The 7 day Phase 2 is still about high-volume, low-cal foods that will help you hang on to that feeling of fullness. And, in case you’ve been missing them, it also includes an extra portion of grains.
A sample day’s menu:
- Breakfast Quinoa Porridge with Apple & Raisins
- Lunch Tartelettes Niçoises
- Dinner Moroccan Tagine with Broccoli & Pistachio “Tabbouleh”
- Fig Flowers with Orange Flower Water
- S Factor Snack Chilli Pitta Crisps
With over 70 recipes to help balance your hormones naturally, Lowri Turner shows you how to lose excess weight easily and keep it off for good.
“Drop a dress size in 2 weeks”
The S Factor Diet by Lowri Turner
160 pages • Illustrated • £10.99
AUS $22.99NZ $28.00