I've posted before about my belief that leptin resistance (and later, obesity) occurs as a result of elevated serum triglycerides blocking the passage of leptin across the blood-brain barrier:
Heavy fructose consumption via sweetened drinks happens to be an excellent way to boost triglycerides. I have heard many anecdotes of people (males) who stopped drinking soda and dropped something like 30 pounds without making any other change. I've seen far fewer females make such a claim. In correcting their hypertriglyceridemia, these males opened the passage of (a significant amount now that they're overweight) leptin to the hypothalamus. Appetite is greatly reduced and weight is lost rapidly.
One additional result of the weight loss for these males is an increase in testosterone that was depressed due to upregulated aromatase activity (which is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol and is more active with a greater fat mass in males). Testosterone actually decreases the concentration of leptin (women tend to have 3x as much, even when fat amounts are accounted for) which you would think would decrease satiety, but testosterone also upregulates lipolysis. Assuming that triglycerides don't rise again, males have an endocrine protection put back in place to prevent a return to obesity.
I have seen it written many times here and elsewhere in the paleosphere where a female has done the exact same thing as her boyfriend or as other paleo-eating males have done with negligible results. These women generally have dropped their triglycerides down to excellent levels, but it doesn't make a difference. It is my contention that paleo fails for weight loss in women due to hypogonadism, to too little estrogen.
Peri- and post-menopausal women of course have less estogen than younger females and an increased risk of obesity: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14567150 http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v9/n10/abs/oby200181a.html
Mice that cannot produce estrogen become obese: http://endo.endojournals.org/content/141/11/4295.short
I believe that the reason why this hypogonadism may occur in women who are not near menopause is due to a zinc deficiency. Zinc is needed for the synthesis of estrogen: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q41833xm48214247/ and is excreted (along with iron) during menstruation. If a female has endured a period of time in the past where she has been menstruating, exercising heavily and not consuming much zinc-dense foods (vegetarian/vegan diet) she could conceivably deplete her zinc stores and create a deficiency that interferes with sex hormone synthesis.
I am positing that a correction of a zinc deficiency would increase serum estrogen levels, increase leptin: http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/154/2/285.short and reduce body fat levels. Because triglycerides will likely be greatly reduced by this point, everything should be in place for rapid fat loss. 50 mg of zinc picolinate taken on an empty stomach between meals once a day should in time correct this deficiency and bring levels of estrogen back to their correct position.
In the absence of a properly functioning endocrine system, certain coping mechanisms such as a forced reduction in the daily insulin area under the curve via ZC/VLC in order to maximize lipolysis can be employed with obvious success, but this is ultimately not a necessary state for an individual with intact endocrine function. I don't believe that these individuals have a "broken metabolism" or a "burned out pancreas" but rather under-performing ovaries that need more zinc.
That all being said, this seems too simple for my tastes, so I'm looking for some exceptions from women who have mid- high-normal or high levels of estrogen and still experience great difficulty in not being overweight with a mixed diet.
Keep looking for the truth, but I am not sure if you will find it here. First, I know few women with extremely high triglycerides. And I know few women who aren't on diets at least some of the time, pretty much all the time. If women are drinking sugary drinks at all, it is usually in the form of alcohol or energy drinks, but there is no comparison to the amount that young men drink. It could be that women are just experiencing some of the so-so results because their diets weren't as horrible to begin with.
The basis of men and women fat difference is all about leptin.
Interesting hypothesis, Travis! It makes sense that this could be a factor for some women.
There is also the difference in the ratio of alpha & beta receptors in men & women.
My observation (having worked with women as a personal trainer/life coach & now pregnancy coach for over 10 years) is that emotional eating and eating timing may have a significant part to play in the difference in weight loss between men & women.
Women are much more likely to reward themselves or compensate for a stressful day with food--completely overriding satiety signals.
For women who are more likely to eat when they are stressed: High cortisol + food = weight gain. Many more men (IME) who are stressed will go exercise & not eat until their cortisol level is down.
Wow. I can't respond authoritatively to your theory, but I find it very, very interesting. I'm a pushing menopausal woman who has noticed a major reduction in appetite since changing my WOE last October -- and my triglycerides have been in the 50s or so since that time.
I had suspected that the leptin was coming through strongly now, though I have been thinking it had more to do with the lack of hyperpalatable foods overriding other neuro reward circuits.
That said, if true, this would certainly be support for why a lower carb (not necessarily low carb) diet might be helpful re weight loss. And it kinda ties in with Lustig's comments at AHS that aside from puberty and pregnancy that there may be times (e.g. harvest time before the winter) that the body would override its normal leptin signalling.
I don't have much to say about the plausibility of your claim, but I'm going to try it.
I don't have significant body fat to lose (5'5, 145lbs, BF somewhere under 30%) but I do suffer from painful periods and I think my hormones are not as they should be. I've been trying different treatments for a decade and I refuse to go on the pill. I should note that nothing else is wrong with me -- I've been tested over and over and everything is perfectly healthy with my reproductive system, but I've never had a hormone panel. I might get one as a before and after if I do undertake this supplementation experiment. I have excellent healthcare coverage and I've developed a good rapport with my midwife about these things, but if anyone has any tips on what kind of hormone testing/how to convince her I need one, I'd be appreciative.
Since you alerted me to the fact that zinc is needed for estrogen production, I started googling around to see if it's been used for treatment of menstrual issues.
I realize that George Eby is some kind of pro-zinc zealot, but he did publish this paper with several case studies of women he claims were cured of dysmenorrhea by zinc supplementation: http://george-eby-research.com/html/zinc-prevents-cramps.html. That's enough for me to consider it. Zinc is cheap and mostly safe.
The basis of his theory is not estrogen balance, but the prostaglandin pathway.
He seems to think the 30mg/day for a few days prior to menstruation isn't dangerous re: copper metabolism. Would 50mg/day for an extended period (have you studied how long it takes to correct a zinc deficiency?) have implications for toxicity? I'm going to look into that before I start a long-term supplementation experiment, but for this month (since I'm pre-menstrual, about 5 days out), I'm taking 50mg of zinc gluconate (what the drugstore had) every day to see what happens.
is this low estrogen high testosterone? 7 Answers