How to Fix Leptin Resistance to Control Weight, Cravings & More

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Do you struggle with weight and have trouble sticking to a diet? Crave (junk) foods, especially at night? Eat and never feel full?

A little something called leptin resistance may be to blame!

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 or her leptin levels.

The Culprit: Leptin Resistance

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.

Leptin Stimulating Foods and Lifestyle Factors

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

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!

How to Fix Leptin Resistance

As I said, this is a complex problem, but not an irreversible one. The good news is you feel better quickly once it’s under control.

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

  • Say no to sugar. Eat little to no simple starches, refined foods, sugars, and fructose. Eat quality carbs from veggies instead.
  • Get enough protein and fat. 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.
  • Get regular sleep. This step may be more important than all the rest combined. (Yes, really!) Be in bed by 10 (no excuses) and optimize your sleep!
  • Spend time in nature. Get outside during the day, preferably barefoot on the ground, in mid-day sun with some skin exposed. Here’s why.
  • 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. For creative ways to do this even as a busy mom, see this post.
  • 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.
  • Change how you 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 workouts 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, work out in the evening, not the morning, to support hormone levels.
  • Detox. Remove toxins from your life as these are a stress on your body. Get rid of processed foods, commercial deodorants (make your own instead), and switch to natural cleaning products. How? I wrote a whole book on the topic with an easy-to-follow detox lifestyle plan and recipes.
  • Increase omega-3, lower omega-6. Eat (or take) more omega-3s by eating fish, grass-fed meats, or chia seeds) and minimize your omega-6 consumption (vegetable oils, conventional meats, grains, etc,) to get lower inflammation and help support healthy leptin levels.

How the Leptin Hormone Works

If you want to know more, here’s a great video that explains more about the leptin hormone cascade and how it impacts your health. Also check out the additional resources at the end of the post.

Additional Reading

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 resources for more information on their methods of correcting leptin resistance:

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

Can't lose weight and crave foods? Your Leptin could be off! This master hormone affects other hormone balance and overall health.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


215 responses to “How to Fix Leptin Resistance to Control Weight, Cravings & More”

  1. Rose Robinson Avatar
    Rose Robinson

    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.

  2. kam Avatar

    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.

  3. Suzanne Avatar

    The link to Fructose Consumption is broken. Would like to have that information. Thanks!

  4. Heather Woods Avatar
    Heather Woods

    Odd question but if someone had drank a lot of pop all their life and stopped does it repair the Leptin?

  5. Jesica Avatar

    I so appreciate the time and effort you put into this post. I found it especially helpful!

  6. Veronica Avatar

    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?

  7. christina Hernandez Avatar
    christina Hernandez

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

      1. christina Hernandez Avatar
        christina Hernandez

        Thank you for the answer. I have one more question will coconut oil me have a regular period? I used to be on the nose every 28 days and now it stretches to 2 months. Im assumingI have some sort of hormone issue.

      2. Singh Avatar

        sweet wellness mama I an pure vegetarian.I eat very much but my weight dose not increases plz help me

  8. christina Hernandez Avatar
    christina Hernandez

    Can I still have a high protein breakfast and drink the coconut oil coffee and not gain?

  9. Megan Houser Avatar
    Megan Houser

    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.

    1. Caitlyn Baldo Avatar
      Caitlyn Baldo

      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

      1. Andrea Avatar

        Dr. Bob Beck published several books about the role of electrics in biochemistry. Earthing, The Bob Beck Protocol are good place to start reading if you are interested in learning more. My friend is breast cancer free after following his protocol and modified Gerson therapy regime.

      2. Jay Buckett Avatar
        Jay Buckett

        I stumbled upon “grounding” as a result of spending a long weekend at a caravan park, next to a beach. last year It should be known that I suffer from 2 arthritic knees and used to take some strong painkillers, several daily, which was pain management that worked for most of the day, but certainly not a cure. When I was working I was on the beach every day, with my grandsons and family, for around 4 hours per day. I mentioned when I got back from this holiday that I hadn’t wore any knee supports the whole weekend. My wife, at the same time, mentioned that she had hardly any hot flushes that weekend (my wife has a minimum of 20 hot flushes per day). My son-in-law noticed that he didn’t need to take his inhaler (asthma) the entire weekend. Coincidence? Nope! I worked out that the one thing we all had in common that weekend was that we were all on the beach, no shoes or socks, for several hours per day. We put it down to being out in the fresh air, in Nairn, Scotland. But about a week later I was doing some research in to why my knee pain was gone, and most results that were coming back mentioned “grounding”. So I invested in a grounding sheet, which is basically a sheet with tiny silver foil grid pattern. Its main benefit is reduction or even elimination of inflammation. This ground sheet fits on top of the bed sheet, and plugs in to the earth pin of the electrical 3-pin electricity . This is where you can simulate being bare-footed on a beach or garden, etc. Having purchased the grounding sheet, I set it up on top of my bedsheet, plugged it in and waited for improvements. I can honestly say, hand on heart, within 3 days the pain reduced bit by bit, and at 7 days, the pain was completely gone!! I tried for a week without it, and on he 7th day the knee pain was back with a vengeance! I swear by my ground sheet. They are no that cheap, (around £40 a piece, mind…but they do work. I now sleep on it every night…Didn’t sort out my insomnia, but hey…one thing at a time 🙂 All the best – Jay

  10. Virginia Avatar

    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.

  11. kate carr Avatar
    kate carr

    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.

  12. Geri Avatar

    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.

    1. Paula Jones Avatar
      Paula Jones

      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.

      1. Ace Avatar

        I understand that you may not have a choice but to work these shifts and probably would be difficult for you to change jobs, but I firmly believe, and there is plenty of science to back me, that it isn’t healthy or natural to be awake during the night hours, and sleep during daylight hours, like those who work night shifts do. It is linked to many health problems. We just aren’t made to do that. It throws off our circadian rhythm and has even been linked to cancer and depression. The best thing you can do for your health is get a different shift/job, first and foremost.

  13. paul Avatar

    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.

  14. Penny Delgado Avatar
    Penny Delgado

    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?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Refined is ok, but not as beneficial. We cook with extra virgin, but we’ve adjusted to the taste over time…

  15. Alexandria Jackson Avatar
    Alexandria Jackson

    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?

    1. Amanda D. Avatar
      Amanda D.

      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.

        1. Cat Avatar

          Well, dry gelatin sure does! Both myself and my elderly cat have been enjoying relief from joint pain for a couple of years now.

          1. Ich Avatar

            Oh, you are right—gelatin does help arthritis. It doesn’t really help grow your nails.

          2. Sharron Avatar

            Hi Werebear, where do you buy the dry gelatin from, what brand. Is it for supplement consumption it just cakes and glazes? Thanks Sharron

    2. Shari Avatar

      If you are struggling like this-the GAPS diet might be a good place to start. There are good gelatins out there. 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.

  16. Dulsanea Naedek Avatar
    Dulsanea Naedek

    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.

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