Cravings? Fix Your Leptin!

Crave Foods Could be your Leptin levels how to fix it Cravings? Fix Your Leptin!

Ever had trouble sticking to a diet?

Crave foods?

Overweight?

Want to snack, especially at night?

These are all indications that you could have some Leptin issues. Leptin is a master hormone in the body that controls hunger and feelings of satiety. Leptin is secreted by adipose (fat) tissue, so the more overweight a person is, typically, the higher his leptin levels.

According to Mark’s Daily Apple: “Leptin is the lookout hormone – the gatekeeper of fat metabolism, monitoring how much energy an organism takes in. It surveys and maintains the energy balance in the body, and it regulates hunger via three pathways:

  • By counteracting the effects of neuropeptide Y, a potent feeding stimulant secreted by the hypothalamus and certain gut cells.
  • By counteracting the effects of anandamide, another feeding stimulant.
  • By promoting the production of a-MSH, an appetite suppressant.”

It is also directly tied to insulin levels. Many people these days are Leptin resistant and there are many health problems tied to this problem. High leptin levels have been tied to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and stroke, as well as blood sugar related problems.

High levels of Leptin and the accompanying leptin resistance can also decrease fertility, age you more quickly and contribute to obesity. If you’re trying to lose weight or improve a health problem, chances are you have Leptin resistance. If you can’t seem to stick to health changes, chances are you have Leptin resistance.

In other words, if you want to make lasting health changes or lose weight and keep it off, you have to fix your leptin. The good news is: if you’ve failed at diets or health changes in the past, it was likely because you failed to regulate your Leptin levels and doing so can help you finally make lasting changes. Leptin resistance and its related problems are a complex problem involving the endocrine system and reversing them requires more than simple calorie restriction or will power.

The Downward Spiral

Leptin is the satiety hormone produced by fat cells, so it would seem logical that those with more fat cells would produce more Leptin, which would signal the body to eat less food and weight would normalize. This over-simplified idea is great in theory, but doesn’t always occur, especially in those with damaged metabolisms or endocrine problems (which includes most overweight people).

According to this article: “The problem is not in the production of leptin, but rather, studies show that the majority of overweight individuals who are having difficulty losing weight have a leptin resistance, where the leptin is unable to produce its normal effects to stimulate weight loss. This leptin resistance is sensed as starvation, so multiple mechanisms are activated to increase fat stores, rather than burn excess fat stores. Leptin resistance also stimulates the formation of reverse T3, which blocks the effects of thyroid hormone on metabolism (discussed below).”

So, the person is eating excess food but the body thinks it is starving and tells the person to eat more. It’s easy to see how this cycle could contribute to weight gain!

Factors that Contribute to Leptin Resistance

As with all hormone issues, Leptin resistance is a complex issue with no singular cause, but there are many factors that can negatively impact Leptin levels including:

  • Fructose consumption (especially in forms like High Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • High stress levels
  • Consumption of a lot of simple carbs
  • Lack of sleep
  • High insulin levels (vicious cycle here)
  • Overeating
  • Exercising too much, especially if your hormones are already damaged
  • Grain and lectin consumption

How to Fix Leptin Resistance:

As I said, this is a complex problem, but not an irreversible one. Dr. Jack Kruse (a neurosurgeon) and Stephan Guyenet (an obesity researcher) have both written in depth about the causes of Leptin imbalance and ways to reverse it. I highly recommend these articles for more information about their approaches: Changing the Body’s Setpoint, Factors that affect Leptin, and Dr. Kruse’s Leptin Prescription. The book Mastering Leptin also has a much more in depth explanation and suggestions.

In short, the (non-negotiable) factors that will help improve leptin response are:

  • Eating little to no simple starches, refined foods, sugars and fructose
  • Consuming a large amount of protein and healthy fats first thing in the morning, as soon after waking as possible. This promotes satiety and gives the body the building blocks to make hormones. My go-to is a large scramble with 2-3 eggs, vegetables and left over meat from the night before cooked in coconut oil.
  • Be in bed by ten (no excuses) and optimize your sleep!
  • Get outside during the day, preferably barefoot on the ground, in mid-day sun with some skin exposed. There are many reasons this is helpful and I’ll be explaining them soon)
  • DON’T SNACK!!! When you are constantly eating, even small amounts, during the day it keeps your liver working and doesn’t give hormones a break. Try to space meals at least 4 hours apart and don’t eat for at least 4 hours before bed. This includes drinks with calories but herbal teas, water, coffee or tea without cream or sugar are fine.
  • Don’t workout at first. If you are really Leptin resistant, this will just be an additional stress on the body. Let your body heal a little first, then add in the exercise.
  • When you do exercise, do only sprints and weight lifting. Walk or swim if you want to but don’t do cardio just for the sake of cardio. It’s just a stress on the body. High intensity and weight lifting, on the other hand, give the hormone benefits of working out without the stress from excess cardio and are great after the first few weeks. Also, workout in the evening, not the morning, to support hormone levels.
  • Remove toxins from your life as these are a stress on your body. There will be more specifics on how to accomplish this in the next few weeks, but getting rid of processed foods, commercial deodorants (make your own) and comercial soap (use microfiber) will go a long way!
  • Eat (or take) more Omega-3s (fish, grassfed meats, chia seeds) and minimize your Omega-6 consumption (vegetable oils, conventional meats, grains, etc) to get lower inflammation and help support healthy leptin levels.

Here’s a great video that explains more about the Leptin hormone cascade and how it impacts your health:

Do you have any of these issues? Think Leptin is a struggle for you? Try this and let me know how it goes!

Reader Comments

  1. Stacie says

    Great post… this sounds a lot like me! I really have been trying to get more sleep, as I think this is a major issue for me. Power walking has always been my go-to exercise, and I would like to get more into weight training and higher intensity workouts, I just don’t really know what the heck I am doing…

    • Jennifer 'Byrnes' Bosley says

      I love weight training and have never really enjoyed cardio, so I enjoyed reading this! If you’d like to chat Stacie about ways to enjoy weight lifting, look me up on Facebook.

  2. says

    i’m just now reading this, even though i should have read it before. i think that this may be one of my problems. i recently have needed this. my stress levels are extremely high. i have been snacking more and having more slip ups with what ive been eating. i’m making sure i eat better, but still have been snacking (cherries are my downfall right now). i’m going to try these pointers!

  3. Jessica says

    How do you know if you’re leptin resistant? Is there a test one can take?
    I’m also wondering what causes it? I’m glad for the links you posted but I’d love a short answer… :)

    • says

      Typically, if you are overweight, it is pretty certain you are Leptin resistant, or if you have sleep troubles or fatigue in the afternoon. Thin people, especially those naturally very thin can also have leptin resistance though.

    • Nancy B. says

      Yes, there is a blood test that can show the Leptin level and if it’s too high, like mine is. I just received my test results after my physical, showing the number. This was recently added to the blood test my doctor uses, Health Diagnostics Lab. My health coach told me this was a recently added test to the blood workup HDL uses. I like the results this lab gives, and explanations also. I also had a regular Executive Panel blood workup done at the same time, with faster results, but it didn’t test for Leptin. I’m thankful to know now that working on my Leptin level and Leptin resistance issues is going to make a difference for my health.

  4. Sarah says

    Thanks so much… Your posts have some of the most helpful information I have found. I have had almost all of these problems and It’s so frustrating not being able to lose weight no matter what I try. Even my doctor never has any suggestions of what to do. I have already been doing some of these things, but I will try the others too. I really hope it works this time!

  5. Dawn says

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve only just learned about leptin and its relationship to weight issues. You mention avoiding fructose. I get avoiding refined sugars, but fruit also contains fructose. Do you recommend avoiding fruit as well? Doesn’t the fiber present in fruit mitigate the fructose present in fruit? I’ve provided a link to Dr. Robert Lustig’s talk on sugar where he discusses the effect of fructose when consumed with fiber. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    • says

      It does mitigate it some, and fruit is definitely a better choice than any processed food containing fructose. Depending on how severe a hormone imbalance is, it might be worth limiting fruit too for the short term, but some people do fine with fruit…

  6. FBriggs says

    I dont know if my problem is Leptin resistant or what it could be. I just know that I eat very well and recently developed diabetes, literally overnight. Had bloodwork done and the first result said 109 and 3 months later it said 346??? I am currently searching for a natural cure for Diabetes and to help me shed a pound or 60 lol. Seriously anything you might be able to suggest would be like gold :) I am a LMT and believe in the bodys ability to heal itself when instructed the right way. Fran

    • Sunny Guzman says

      My mom has finally got her Diabetes under control after living off meds for 30 years. This book Reversing Diabetes by Neal D. Barnard is what has really helped her.

    • E Vaughn says

      I took Metformin which worked well for me. Then I started taing Turmeric/Curcumin and I had to reduce my Metformin. That stuff worked great on lowering my Blood Sugars. Good Luck!

  7. says

    I’m the opposite… I’m really skinny… and no matter how and what I eat, I don’t gain… I need to balance my hormones or my face keeps breaking out! Once leptin is fixed, will I gain weight?

    • kari says

      The leptin helps with hormones and makes you able to lose weight easier. It will help with your face but it won’t make you gain weight

    • scars says

      Had a friend with the same problem. She ate all the time and kept losing weight. Her doctor even accused her of being an exercise anorexic. Turns out she had celiac disease. Once she cut out gluten, she was able to keep on weight and her skin cleared up.

      • Briana Coy Blevins says

        This is what were going through with my daughters! People keep telling me that gluten intolerance only makes you overweight, but I know this is why my girls are “failure to thr
        Thank you for sharing, I was beginning to think it was all my imagination!

  8. shubhpreet says

    i am 23yrs old and i am having the problem of constantly increasing weight , i had done regular exercise, dieting, healthy food eating and i had even starded walking for 10-15 kms but i had got no change in my weight , not even 1kg is reduced instead it has increased. please suggest me what should i do and should i concern d doctor……

    please suggest

  9. Danni says

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! This is me all the way. I was puzzled because in the past when I attempted to lose weight I all I would have to do is run the block (so to speak) and the weight would fall off. I’ve tried almost everything (no surgery) and I am still 284lbs (heaviest in my life)!! I am going to try this for a month first two weeks the diet (protein heavy breakfast) and incorporate walking. This is a God send because I was hopeless.
    Thank you!

  10. says

    Wondering how long before you can add in cardio? I’m possitive my hormones are out of balance and I am Leptin Resisitant. I have done a triathlon and half marathon each year for the last 4 years and have not lost one pound. I’m considering not doing either this year if I have to stop training for a long time. What can you suggest?

  11. says

    For over a month I’d walk…up a hill and back down. Usually 5 days a week. No weight loss although I did feel better. One day my daughter walked with me and got ahead by a couple of blocks, at the end of the hill. She stopped and waited on me. I decided to jog down to her. I made it! Got on the scales the next morning and discovered I’d lost my FIRST POUND!! Since then I’ve found that short, fast exercise is the only way I can lose weight. So I go to the local park and walk with light jogging down each small hill and some jogging on flat areas, but not too much (heart problems, doc won’t let me exercise too hard). I lose weight that way!

  12. Jan says

    Thank you! This is very interesting, and I think I may have leptin resistance. My question is about regular grocery store meats. I have no access to grass fed, and wonder how much this will affect my “recovery”?

  13. Kathie says

    The article indicates not sugar or fructose – does this include fruit? I have been using my vitamix to make whole food smoothies (skin and all)and the fruit is what helps me deal with the veggie taste.

  14. Dulsanea Naedek says

    Great article and passed it along to my readers! Thank you. These are changes that I personally have already incorporated. My good fortune as provided us with an age- management physician who’s practices focuses on balancing the hormones for both women and men.

  15. Alexandria Jackson says

    I have a question. I suspect hormone imbalance and I’m dealing with mood swings, depression, hair thinning, change in hair texture and a little in color too, restlessness and change in period flow and discharge. I’m not sure if I have food cravings cause I’m use to eating through out the day especially late at night to try and and gain weight. I’ve been skinny (steady weight of 110lbs) for the longest and lost 5lbs after taking contraception (depo provera). I wasn’t too happy with so I started the pill and at some point started taking double in hopes of gaining weight instead ended up losing 4 more pounds that is not steady constantly going up and down. on top of that I took some herbs fenurgreek, saw palmetto and red clover to promote hair growth and increase bust size. Not coming to the conclusion that it could be hormones until 2 weeks ago. Help me?

  16. Alexandria Jackson says

    I have a question. I suspect hormone imbalance and I’m dealing with mood swings, depression, hair thinning, change in hair texture and a little in color too, restlessness and change in period flow and cervix mucus. I’m not sure if I have food cravings cause I’m use to eating through out the day especially late at night to try and and gain weight. I’ve been skinny (steady weight of 110lbs) for the longest and lost 5lbs after taking contraception (depo provera). I wasn’t too happy with so I started the pill and at some point started taking double in hopes of gaining weight instead ended up losing 4 more pounds that is not steady constantly going up and down. on top of that I took some herbs fenurgreek, saw palmetto and red clover to promote hair growth and increase bust size. Not coming to the conclusion that it could be hormones until 2 weeks ago. Help me?

    • Amanda D. says

      I’m not the author of this article but maybe look into Natural Vitality Natural Calm magnesium supplement (found it on another page), I’ve read a lot of reviews on how it helps improve mood, and helps with better sleep at night. As for hair, you could try taking a Gelatin supplement possibly? It’s supposed to help with hair, nails, etc.

    • Shari says

      If you are struggling like this-the GAPS diet might be a good place to start. There are good gelatins out there ( http://butterbeliever.com/choosing-gelatin-powder/). Also, see a Naturopath (a good one!) who will run a thorough panel on you (T3, T4, Homocysteine, D3, the WORKS). ND’s don’t do temporary, cover up’s of symptom’s. They get to the bottom of it and try to heal you.

  17. PE Delgado says

    when you say to you cook with coconut oil, do you cook with extra virgin coconut oil? I cant stand the smell of coconut oil on my food. I have used refined coconut oil which doesn’t have the smell. But would that even be beneficial?

  18. paul says

    i’ve given up smoking for 2 years now but im really over weight and i like cooking which means i like eating,im trying to cut down but i struggle,one day i’ll get the weight down.but at least the cigs are gone.

  19. says

    It would be great to see some of these things addressed from the standpoint of people who work night shifts. Many of us have a hard time getting the sleep we need, because we sleep in the daytime, and at night when we are off. Our sleep cycles are pretty messed up.

    • Paula Jones says

      Amen! I’ve been working nights for most of my 24 year USPS career, and my sleep cycle has definitely suffered, and finding a balance is a struggle.

  20. kate carr says

    I really enjoyed the video, I just wish it had been longer with more info. I do thank you for all you gave me and now I guess I need the book.

  21. Virginia says

    WOW! I really enjoyed this article… thank you for sharing!!! :-) This is so fascinating … I really wish I could get a handle on it all. So much to take in and think about.

  22. Megan Houser says

    There was NO explanation as to the benefits of walking outside barefoot midday with some skin exposed. I see “do this and not that” but no explanation as to why. More info as to why would be nice. I’d rather read than watch a video since not everyone speaks well or clearly. Or there is always the mic is too far away.

    • Caitlyn Baldo says

      Going barefoot outside is for “grounding” yourself. It’s been so long since I read about “grounding” but I know its beneficial. I want to say it’s because we spent a lot of time “plugged in” with electric/technology and being ungrounded, or being negatively charged actually messes with your body. Not the most helpful answer, sorry, but here is an article about it http://wellnessmama.com/5600/how-to-get-healthy-while-you-sleep/

  23. christina Hernandez says

    So having a high protein breakfast and coconut oil coffee will still help my body lose? Or is it one or the other?

  24. V.G says

    Great post! I gave birth almost 11 months ago.. and all during pregnancy I had the feeling I had excessive amount of hormones. I even developed a third nipple! Now, 11 months later, my linea nigra is still visible and the darkening over my lip still hasn’t faded. I have been working out, and on all types of diets (from Weight Watchers to herbalife), and even went to a nutritionist, but he seemed to think I was cheating on my diet because it didn’t work. I am frustrated and once I started googling “can’t lose weight” came to your site. Is this a common issue for mothers? Can this be pregnancy related?

  25. kamsinger says

    Every time I go to bed early I wake up between 2 & 3 am and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes I’m so hungry I had to get something to eat before I can sleep again.

  26. Rose Robinson says

    Thanks so much Katie for a fantastic blog! I was so pleased to come across this article on Leptin. I have had all these symptoms and have been really stressing about what the heck could be wrong with me! So this is a real lifesaver. SO pleased to see someone popularising wellness rather than pill-popping! Respect.

  27. Holly says

    I just started reading on leptin. I don’t know if its my issue or not. All my life I’ve been a tiny person. According to standards I’m only overweight by 10 pounds. However, being 5’6″ tall, most of my life I was never one pound over 125. I always rested between 118 when I wasn’t working out and up to 125 when I decided to take better cAre of myself. At age 34, I’ve been struggling to loose weight. I’m now 140 to 145. For the past year it’s been steady at 140, when I’m at the gym for five to six days a week I see a drop in my weight. It use to be, just stress alone would lose weight, but not anymore sense my hormones are changing as I get older. For the most part I’m doing as suggested above, but I don’t eat meat for breakfast other then eggs. I have sensitivity to red meat, which I eat still but only once a day and usually for dinner. I have a mix of cardio and weight lifting because cardio alone doesn’t do much for me. But not long ago, I pulled my shoulder muscle and its has a horrible knot on top of it that’s slowly going away. Took own weeks off from the gym and gone back since last week, it’s slowly going away but it’s one annoying stab in my back, i can only sleep on one side. And throughout the day, it feels better. I’ve gone back to weights but doing baby steps. Where I am getting at this is, if rather lose weight the natural way. No pills, which also means no supplements designed for weights lose.

  28. Connie says

    I have been dealing with weight problems all of my life. It runs in my family. I was told by my Dr. I need to lose weight. I asked him for suggestions, he said, ” just don’t put it in your mouth”. That was helpful. My husband was going through chemo treatments. We were drinking an energy smoothie with fruit and flax or chia seeds every morning. I felt better, lost some weight and slept better at night. When he passed, everything stopped. I quit the protein routine in the morning and sleeping has been minimal. I am no longer making the smoothies. I was doing that for him. I realize now after reading your information I need to go back to my old routines for me and my health.

  29. Mary says

    Hello, I love your site. Everything I google leads me right back to you. I just have a question on leptin and intermittent fasting. I typically eat 3 large meals a day, however about 2 mornings a week I work out for about an hour, and I usually enjoy breakfast by 10am. However I have been doing bulletproof coffee (with gelatin) and I usually have at least 2 brazil nuts. I am at a healthy weight however I am dealing with some hormone issues since getting off the pill over a year ago. I am just looking for a second opinion to make sure I am not causing extra stress or harm. I work nights and I am usually up by 8am, so in order to attend this class I don’t have time to eat before. Thanks again for all of your wonderful information!

  30. sandra says

    great article….but where do i start? primary doctor has done blood tests and says all is good….but i think i know my body better!

  31. Jessica Loge says

    I am really desperate to lose weight and currently on a slight dieting. is it true that just by having enough sleep, eating healthily i would manage to lose weight?
    i m aiming to lose 5kg is there any suggestions that enables me to accomplish it in a month or so?
    really need the suggestions thx!!:)

  32. Nuryi says

    Thanks, now i understand why i’m not losing weight. Today I just did a serious workout and i feel like i want to eat the world. I felt like what the hell is going on. After seeing your video i realized that the Garcinia Camboia was putting me in the starvation mode. So when i don’t take it for a a day or two like today, i have great hungrier. Thank YOU

  33. Daniela says

    I am 40 a mother of 3, have fibromyalgia and am overweight. I feel like an 80 year old and struggle with chronic fatigue and have been gluten free for ages. Do you think that leptin levels and fibromyalgia are connected? After all they are adrenal related. I have just completed a complete gut detox over 4 months and now take supplements to rebuild my adrenals. I just can’t seem to lose weight. my dr said my cortisol levels are too high but I’m trying to reduce them. Wondering if leptin is the reason?

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