Everyone, meet Leptin.
Leptin is your satiety (fullness) hormone that tells you when you’ve eaten enough. On a high-carb diet, such as the Standard American Diet (SAD), leptin does not work efficiently, and many folks don’t realize they’re full until they’ve eaten too much. On a low-carb diet, sensitivity to leptin is restored.
However, most of us are not used to eating until our fullness signal kicks in. We have not been trained to listen to our bodies’ hormonal signals, because we’ve all been raised to eat when the government said so (3x a day, plus snacks) and what the government said was good for us (high carb, low fat). Thus, the Standard American Diet (SAD) became our guideline instead of our own hormones.
Most folks think that overeating is a matter of too many calories.
Kinda, sorta, but not really.
That would be like saying that a sink is overflowing because there is too much water. Yeah, there’s too much water in the sink, but the true reason for the overflowing sink is that someone forgot to pay attention to how full the sink was and shut off the faucet.
Overeating is eating past the point of satiety, regardless of how many calories you’ve ingested. If your body sends you a signal that you’re full, and you ignore this signal and continue to eat, you are overeating. If you finish your plate because you don’t want to waste, and you ignore your body’s fullness signal, you’ve overeaten. If you eat too quickly to give your body time to tell you it’s full, and by the time you realize that you’re full you’re overly stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, then you’ve overeaten.
I once got into a fascinating discussion with a very smart man who follows keto, but believes that a caloric deficit is necessary for weight loss. Essentially, I told him that I lost 70 pounds without tracking calories, and he concluded that I had an unconscious caloric deficit. I was burning more calories than I ate, but I didn’t track it at all. It just happened. And if something happens whether you track it or not, is it really that important? I maintain that this happened because I listened to my body. I ate when hungry, and stopped when full.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of re-learning and re-training our minds to listen to our bodies, only eat when hungry, and stop eating when full. As a general rule, the human body is designed so that if you listen to your hormones, you should never have to worry about calories. You know, just like our ancestors did.
However, some people are leptin resistant.
Most of us are familiar with insulin resistance, but not leptin resistance. If you are leptin resistant, you might not eat enough, or you might eat too much, before you feel your body’s fullness signal.
If you have metabolic damage, it’s possible that your hunger and satiety hormones might also be damaged. One sign of leptin resistance is not getting results with “intuitive keto” (listening to your body, not tracking). You might have tried eating when hungry, and stopping when full, but perhaps you gained 2 pounds when you wish to lose 50. That’s doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve intentionally eaten too much or too little, it may mean your leptin signaling is broken and your brain simply isn’t sending out the proper fullness responses at the proper times.
If you have tried “intuitive keto” (listening to your body, not tracking), but are unhappy with the results, perhaps you are leptin resistant, in which case you might want to consider counting calories for a while. For some people, this is a temporary measure that helps them know they’re eating adequately without getting into excess, until such time as their hormones have healed and can be a better guide.
One important note to remember: keto is never a starvation diet. If you’re tracking calories and find that you’re frequently in severe deficits, that can be damaging to your metabolism and hunger/fullness signaling. As always, it’s about finding the right balance to fueling your body.
But if you have not yet tried intuitive keto, I strongly encourage you to try it for 2 weeks and see how it affects your body. Just eat when hungry, and stop when full. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results. And in the case that you’re less than pleased, that means that you have tried it, and now know your body better than you previously did. It’s a win-win.
Keto on, folks!