Your body manufactures a hormone that can help you to eat normally and maintain your ideal weight – that is, if you eat healthy foods.
Leptin is a hormone, and its job is to regulate both the strength of your hunger signal and the rate at which you burn calories. It is made by fat cells, and when your fat cells sense that there is enough nourishment coming into the body, leptin is released. The leptin then travels to the brain and your appetite is reduced, and it boosts your metabolism, encouraging your body to burn calories.
However, dieting interferes with the effective action of leptin. When people starve themselves, their production of leptin is reduced, inducing the hunger signal. It only takes a few days on a restricted calorie diet for leptin levels to decline. An overactive hunger signal is not a great thing to have while dieting, but that is exactly what happens to many people. The result is their ability to continue to diet becomes based solely on willpower, and that usually does not last very long. Most people hate to be hungry for extended periods of time!
Fat consumption also can interfere with normal leptin production. This was shown in a study of the Pima Indians. Pimas living in Mexico have continued to eat a traditional diet of rice and beans and low-fat plant foods, while those in the U.S. have adopted a very high-fat diet, in part due to federal food assistance programs that include cheese and meat. Researchers have found through checking blood samples that Pimas in Mexico have more leptin in their bloodstream per unit of body weight than their northern relatives eating a high-fat diet. This is most likely one reason why Pimas in the U.S. have developed weight problems, and are experiencing very high rates of diabetes as a consequence.
So, eating rice, beans and other plant foods, and consuming an adequate amount of healthy calories every day can boost the amount of leptin in your system, which switches off your appetite. And, these low-fat foods tend to increase the efficiency of leptin as well. It is easier to stick with an eating plan when you are not hungry all the time.
Additionally, exercise boosts the body’s sensitivity to leptin.
So, the best way to lose weight is to eat a low-fat, vegetarian or near vegetarian diet. This allows you to eat enough calories every day, and to be full all the time, making it easier to stick with. Combining this with a proper amount of exercise will make achieving and maintaining your ideal weight much easier than will starvation and fad diets.