How is your energy storage managed?
Balancing your energy needs is one thing, but how is it managed? A key piece of information your hypothalamus needs to know is how much energy you have stored in your fat cells. Is the amount of energy you have stored okay? How much fuel do you have in your tank? How does it get this information? It gets it from a hormone called leptin. Leptin is produced by your fat cells and circulates in your bloodstream. We all have our own energy storage level which is the amount sufficient to meet our particular needs. The level of leptin indicates whether the energy you have stored is above or below that level.
In signalling whether your energy level is above or below your normal level, leptin sends out one of two messages. ” I'm not hungry. I have energy to burn ” (anorexigenesis) or “ I'm hungry. My energy stores are low” (orexigenesis) Your hypothalamus is always on the lookout for leptin signals. It's constantly evaluating them to keep your energy in balance.
So, it's very important for your VMH, your hypothalamus's assistant whose business it is to control energy storage and consumption, to pick up information from your leptin signals.
When it reads that you have enough energy, and there is enough energy stored, your hypothalamus tells your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for fat loss, to turn on. “ I'm ready for action and I have plenty of stored energy” It also turns off the vagus nerve which is responsible for stimulating your appetite and for fat gain.
“ I'm not hungry and I don't need to store any energy”.
If your VMH reads from your leptin signals that your energy levels are low, it turns off your sympathetic nervous system because you are low on energy and need to store fat. “ My energy level is low. I need to save energy” and it turns on your vagus nerve, which communicates the feeling of hunger between your stomach and your brain. This stimulates your appetite and promotes fat storage. “ I'm hungry, my energy reserves are low and I need to store energy. Please I need to eat more food, and store more fat.”
If you've been on a diet you'll have experienced this. When you go on a diet you reduce your food intake and your fat cells lose fat. Your energy storage level drops below your normal level. This means you produce less leptin. So the message your VMH picks up is that your energy storage level is below normal. Guess what? You feel hungry, you obey and you go in search of something to eat. Easy to see why diets don't work! When you diet your body actually works against your efforts to lose weight.