Health & Nutrition : Do Leptin Supplements Work for Weight Loss?
Can Leptin Supplements Help You Lose Weight?
In today's edition of "things you can blame on your ," did you know there is a hormone that regulates how full you feel? It's called leptin, and the entire reason your body produces it is to help regulate your weight, says Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., of Harvard Medical School.
If leptin makes you feel full, you might wonder if taking it in pill form could stop that constantly hangry feeling—especially if you've been trying (unsuccessfully) to drop pounds. It begs the question...
Can Leptin Help You Lose Weight?
When doctors first discovered leptin, they (of course) wondered if it could be used in pill form for weight loss. But studies haven’t found that to be the case for the average person. There is an exception, though: People with a leptin deficiency can benefit from the supplements, Stanford says.
Here’s the thing: It’s pretty rare to have this, and it's not something you’d just develop as an adult.
Leptin deficiencies are usually diagnosed when you’re growing up. “These children usually have pretty severe obesity that you’ll see within the first few months of life,” Stanford says. Usually, a pediatrician will order a blood test, and that will flag if a leptin deficiency is the issue. In those cases, doctors may prescribe a leptin supplement to help regulate the hormone in the child’s body, Stanford says. But again, she stresses, this is rare.
Why Can You Buy Leptin Supplements Online Then?
There are a bunch of pills online that swear they’re a “stimulant-free weight loss supplement” or a “natural supplement for weight management,” but…they’re kind of b.s. Leptin, unfortunately, falls into that category.
For starters, your body can't even absorb it in supplement form unless you have a legit deficiency, says Peter LePort, M.D., medical director of the MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at the Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. “These things marketed online are selling false hopes,” Stanford says.
Taking leptin when you don’t need it probably won’t beharmful...but it’s a total waste of money, Stanford says. Also worth pointing out: These pills are pricey (they’re usually at least 50 cents a pill), so taking them can really add up.
Okay...But Can You Do Anything To Naturally Alter Your Leptin Levels?
Leptin levels change in your body in response to food—which is why LePort recommends eating slowly and choosing foods that will fill you up to increase your feelings of satiety when you eat.
Other than that, there's unfortunately nothing that’s been scientifically proven to help change your leptin levels. Some researchers are studying different tactics on mice and rats, but nothing has been found to work at this time, Stanford says.
The bottom line: Take a hard pass on leptin supplements, and talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your weight. They should be able to offer up some advice that can help—which is definitely better than wasting your money on pills that don't work.
Video: Weight Loss and Leptin Resistance
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