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

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » How to Fix Leptin Resistance to Control Weight, Cravings & More

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.


Become a VIP member!

Get access to my VIP newsletter with health tips, special deals, my free ebook on Seven Small Easy Habits and so much more!

Easy Habits ebook on ipad

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. Jessica Avatar

    Is there any indication how long it takes to reset your Leptin?

    I’ve cut out all refined sugar and recently have reduced all carb/grain intake to about 2-3 servings a week. I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks and though I feel great, I’ve been disappointed that I’ve lost very little weight (just some water weight).

    I’m remaining motivated mostly because I really want to make my body healthy, but I am rather overweight, so I hoped weight loss would be a great side effect.

    Now that I’ve read this post, I’m wondering if my Leptin is the blockade.

  2. Sheila Ferrell Avatar
    Sheila Ferrell

    Thank you for this site. It is one of my favorite sites.
    After the research Ive done on hormone imbalance, I see that I fit to a T, the leptin resistance problem.

    Is there a concise, specific list of the ONLY foods I should consume to increase leptin acceptance ?
    meanwhile, i will work on gettin more sleep & stressing less about my wayward teen & bills …
    (this i think may be harder than avoiding carb cravings)

  3. Chathuri Avatar

    Hi! I’m into intensive short workouts, specially cardio. Well my fitness level has increased. I am fit and in good shape yet I feel something is wrong. I don’t feel satiated in mind. Even after intensive workouts or sex I would still go another round.

  4. Leona Avatar

    Love your website Katie. I read Mastering Leptin many years ago but never put it to use until about two years ago. I had tried everything that came down the road to loose my “baby weight” and I only succeeded in loosing a few pounds then gaining back more. It was hard at first making it 4 hours between meals (I now go 5 hours). My head was filled with the idea of grazing to keep the metabolism running. That only made me to want more. Keeping Leptin in mind has helped me drop 60 pounds (and have kept it off). I still have the occasional “falling off the band wagon” but I review the five steps in the book and I am back on track. As for exercise, I love to walk. I try for three miles most days. I also do weight training a couple times a week and a garden that give me a great opportunity for grounding. I feel fantastic and would recommend this lifestyle to everyone. Start slowly, adding one change at a time and arriving at success comes easily.

    1. Cici Avatar

      Thank you Leona – I found your experience to be encouraging. And motivational.

  5. Alex King Avatar
    Alex King

    I think I might have this problem as well. I’m finding it extremely hard to loose those last 5 pounds of body fat stored in my belly. I eat healthy although I used to eat almost all my calories in uneven proportions just to get my macros: did not work. I am currently on the zone diet which says helps to balance hormones. I have lots of trouble sleeping most of the time (I can finally doze at 1:30 to 2:00 a.m.) only to wake up at six in the morning for class. After class I have work and then I nap an hour or so before working out. I feel either tired or energetic most of the time, almost never in between. Have any extra pointers?

  6. Kat Rodriguez Avatar
    Kat Rodriguez

    I love your blog and this is a great post. I will make one comment though. As a personal trainer I would not recommend someone take a break from exercise and then return to it by doing sprints. This can lead to injury as the body is not conditioned for such strenuous work. I would suggest easing back in with a program that gradually builds toward high intensity workouts.

  7. Carrie S Avatar
    Carrie S

    Your post mentioned using microfiber cloths instead of commercial soap and your link led to Norwex. I’ve heard of them, but couldn’t tell from the site what type of cloth you’re recommending as they sell so many different ones. I couldn’t find one specifically for skin. Thank you for any help.

  8. Betsy Avatar

    Thanks Katie! I’ve been doing a lot of research on leptin levels and how to kick my metabolism into gear. Our family has a history of diabetes and I have been bordering on hypoglycemia for years. I knew that sugars and fats and processes food were not good, but could never figure out why. So thank you for your simple answers! I can make sense now of what I should be doing and must be doing!

  9. Jane Bryer Avatar
    Jane Bryer

    Great site, lots to think about. Does anyone know the plant extract that helps the brain respond to Leptin? …it has been mentioned but not named.

    1. Debbie Avatar

      I read somewhere that taking turmeric/curcumin extract helps the body use leptin properly along with alot of other great health benefits! Just got mine, we’ll see if it makes any difference…

  10. Michele Avatar

    Just joined the Wellness Mama community yesterday and found this article today. I have struggled with weight problems most of my life. A few years ago I went on a low carb diet and lost 63 pounds and kept it off as long as I stayed low carb, about 5 years. Got off the low carb diet and started putting the weight back on, now slightly larger than I was when I started the low carb before. Recently had blood work that showed elevated blood glucose, pre-diabetic is what it said. Both my parents were diabetic so I was keeping an eye on it for a long time. My mom passed away a little over a year ago and I haven’t been taking very good care of myself since then. After receiving those blood results I’ve started back on a low carb diet, been on it about two and a half weeks. The weight loss has been minimal so far, I’ve only lost about 3 pounds, and so far I haven’t seen much improvement in my sugar levels. I tend to have high levels in the morning and it drops during the day, don’t know what’s up with that. I am also menopausal so I know my hormones are out of whack. I am eating nothing with sugar in it and mostly the only carbs I am consuming are from vegetables, broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach, green onion, peppers, mustard greens, arugula, mostly in salad form. I am eating ranch dressing with my salad and eating some cubed cheese. My breakfast consists of 2 eggs scrambled with broccoli, green onion, jalapeno pepper and cubed cheese. Lunch is usually a hamburger, without bun, mayonnaise, and salad greens. Supper is a meat and salad. I don’t snack unless I get really hungry between meals and then I will snack on some almonds and dried cranberry, but I try not to snack. I do take supplements at night before bed and I usually drink them with a small amount of milk. Can anyone tell me how long it will take to see an improvement?

    1. Fancis Avatar

      Cut out dairy…dairy is highly insulinemic worse for you than complex carbos….add some complex carbohydrates i.e. black beans and quinoa or pinto beans and brown rice. Eat protein just before consuming the complex carbos. Many people on high protein/fat diets will do well for awhile then have weight problems later….I speak from personal experience.

      Another problem…I discovered that I was loaded with parasites…even though I ate a really clean and healthy diet…I could not lose weight…it was the parasites disrupting my metabolism. Look up ascaris, liver flukes and rope worms. You will see my pics under

  11. Fae Avatar

    What are your suggestions for low sex drive?

    My son is 15 m old and still nursing. Though my libido has picked up compared to when he was born, it’s still not a lot. And I’m feeling like my next move is going to the doctor, which I don’t want to do. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

  12. Daniela Avatar

    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?

  13. Nuryi Avatar

    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

  14. Jessica Loge Avatar
    Jessica Loge

    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!!:)

  15. sandra Avatar

    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!

  16. Mary Avatar

    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!

  17. Connie Avatar

    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.

  18. Holly Avatar

    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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *