One of the benefits of eating a high-fat, low-carb diet — besides the weight loss — is that fat is a satiating macronutrient. Loading up on healthy monounsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil keeps you feeling satisfied until your next meal. But a new study suggests that eating high-fat foods actually blocks the brain from letting it know it’s time to stop eating.
The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, found that mice that were fed a high-fat diet produce a hormone called MMP-2 that clips receptors for the hormone leptin in the brain, according to the EurekAlert release. Often referred to as the satiety hormone, leptin’s job is to inform the brain that you have enough fat stored and are sated. Since MMP-2 blocks leptin from binding to its receptors, your brain doesn’t get the signal that your stomach is full and you should stop eating. Researchers believe this mechanism explains a condition called leptin resistance, which is common among obese patients but isn’t well understood. They also found when MMP-2 is blocked, the leptin can still signal when the stomach is full.
It’s important to note that this study was conducted in mice, not humans. The type of fat the mice were fed also wasn’t specified in the press release, whether it was healthy fats including monounsaturated fats or unhealthier ones such as saturated or trans fats. While scientists are continuing to study the phenomenon of leptin resistance, they are hoping for a clinical trial to test if MMP-2 blockers could actually help people lose weight.
In the meantime, check with your doctor or registered dietitian before making any major dietary changes. High-fat diets, such as the keto diet, should be done under medical supervision.