Leptin and Insulin - the Obesity Dance

December 29, 2013

Leptin and Insulin - the Obesity Dance 

 Make Your New Years Resolution “Avoid Sugar” and Fix your Leptin 

 Reference:  Fat Chance by Lustig

 I love this book!  Lustig is a very accomplished and respected Pediatric Endocrinologist.  His Youtube lecture on sugar called Bitter Truth has gone viral and has over 4 million hits.   His book Fat Chance is now a hot best seller and, in my opinion, about the best written book out there about the problems of sugar, fructose and the resulting obesity it causes.  If you are overweight, focusing on sugar may be the most simple and effective tool you can use to lose weight. Why?  

As Lustig explains in wonderful, easily understandable prose, fructose causes special problems all by itself.  Fructose is half of table sugar and 55% of high fructose corn syrup.  Both are effectively the same and equally destructive. Here is some of the key science unpacked in the last two years or so about leptin and insulin that Lustig elaborates.  

Leptin is the hormone fat cells are meant to secrete when you have adequate energy stores.  “Stop eating!”, the tell your brain. There is a strange similarity between starving people and obese people.  Both feel fatigued, malaise, and depression.   That’s because both have inadequate leptin signaling.  In starvation, that’s coming from inadequate quantity of leptin.  In obesity, it’s from leptin resistance.  And then leptin falls faster than your weight when you starve yourself.  Within twelve hours of stopping food, your leptin plummets.  Double whammy.  You are overweight, leptin resistant and have no leptin around.   

What makes you leptin resistant?  Insulin.  Insulin signals fat to head for fat cells and blocks the effect of leptin on your brain, telling you to stop eating. The implications of this physiology are huge.  We’ve had obesity backwards.  Leptin and insulin’s dance of obstructing energy flow changes everything.   We used to say, “A calorie is a calorie.  If you eat too much, you store it and become fat – if you don’t exercise like crazy and burn it.”  AKA: you are lazy and you are a glutton, you deserve to be overweight.  It’s your fault.  That sounds sensible.  Unfortunately, in the world of human physiology, it’s oddly backwards.  We know it’s backwards because everything we try based on the old rule doesn’t work and we keep getting fatter.  

The real rule should be read as follows: “If you are going to store it, and you expect to burn it, then you better eat it.”  Sounds confusing.  But the lynch-pin is insulin.  You eat too much sugar – the fructose makes you insulin resistant.  Your insulin levels rise.  You become resistant to leptin.  You eat more.  Your brain gets altered. Obesity is primarily caused by brain insensitivity to leptin, driven by too much insulin, driven by eating fructose.  You got it?  

It’s never completely that simple, but that’s the high order logic.   Now get out there and look at fructose very skeptically.  It’s in everything. 

 WWW. What will work for me.   In the last 10 days, I have eaten every possible source of fructose.   Cookies, fruitcake, chocolate, icecream, crème brule…..  I just went to Office Max and bought a notebook.  Evidence shows that folks who lose weight successfully: weigh themselves daily, keep a food diary, eat low carb (fructose in particular).   I’m on it.  It’s New Year.   Good luck.  Join me.  Let me know how you are doing.   I just wrote down:  Dec 29  Breakfast 2 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, 1/2 cup mushrooms.  One tbsp butter.  No toast.  Next, exercise.   

 Pop Quiz

1.  Sugar is a better form of fructose than high fructose corn syrup.  T or F                  Answer:  

Well, very marginally.  Not enough to matter. Table sugar is 50% and HFCS is 55%.  Both are destructive. 

 2.  A slice of bread with a 100 calories is better for you than a glass of orange juice with 100 calories.  T or F                      Answer:   If you don't quibble over the Vit C, the fructose in OJ is very destructive: as bad as a bottle of beer on your liver.  

3.  Elevated insulin makes your brain resistant to leptin.  T or F                        Answer:   True 

4.  Leptin comes from your fat cells and tells your brain to stop eating. T or F              Answer:  True.  That's what it's meant to do when you are in balance. 

 5.  So, being overweight makes your insulin level rise, your leptin rise and all the while, you feel starving, weak and tired.  T or F                            Answer:  That's it in a nutshell. 

 6.  Overweight people are fat because they are lazy and eat like fat little pigs.  T or F                 Answer:   Only if you buy into the standard American medical model, that has failed us dramatically.  That is actually exactly, diametrically backwards.  You are fat because your brain got poisoned by an environment filled with secret fructose.  You certainly ate the stuff, but it changed your chemistry and set you off on a bad journey. 

 7.   The most effective way to lose weight is with a low carb diet, a scale, and a diary of every calorie you eat.  T or F                  Answer:  Yup.  Join me.  I just bought mine.   Office Max:  $ 2.99

Column written by John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI.