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.


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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. ray Avatar

    I have read Mastering Leptin, by Byron Richards. I am reading it a second time to absorb more of what he says, because it’s a very complicated interaction among the hormones and glands. He also says the same thing Dr. Mercola says: don’t eat for at least 3 hours before bed-if you do, you’re leptin resistant. Also perform peak 8 exercises, no cardio for a while.

    You will never get healthy if you don’t exercise because the muscles are an integral part of the endocrine system. Exercise is absolutely necessary to re-establish hormone balance.

  2. Donna Avatar

    I’m wondering what you’d recommend for breakfast when you can’t eat eggs- for a high protein meal…that smells and tastes like breakfast. Thanks 😉

    1. teyanna Avatar

      Im allergic to chicken eggs and duck eggs are a little more difficult to get my hands on. so i make a big breakfast skillet that i eat on the days i do not have duck eggs.
      i do a couple tbs of coconut oil with organic turkey and add sage garlic powder sea salt red pepper flakes and oregano. then add half red onion and a red bell pepper and 2 cups of diced sweet potato. once everything is pretty well cooked i add about 4 handfuls of organic spinach. this makes about 4 generous servings and holds me over for about 5-6 hours! and its delicious!!

  3. Samantha Hall Avatar
    Samantha Hall

    Ive been reading up on leptin resistance because its just the next thing on my journey for truth in my personal fat war. Im commenting because it seems to me that most of the info i come across basically says not to eat processed foods, or sugar and eat a low carb diet (which ive been doing for 10 years with no results). Then go on to say not to do cardio. How can running be bad for your health or weight loss goals?
    Im training for my first marathon and cant do a diet that keeps me from my personal goals – which is a human goal, not a weight loss goal.
    So frustrated.
    Thanks for reading.

    1. Cate Avatar

      Heavy exercise stimulates cortisol, that’s the hormonal link. High cortisol increases weight. So it might be a choice between your marathon goal and your weight loss goal.

    2. Melissa Avatar

      I know you wrote this a year ago, but I had to comment. Being low carb is not ideal for everyone. I was very healthy, but decided to embark on a low carb diet to try and prevent myself from going diabetic after having gestational diabetes. I felt great for the first year, but after that I got sicker and sicker. I actually even lost several signs of fertility. I finally stumbled onto some research that showed that some people’s bodies interpret a low carb diet as a starvation state. I added carbs back in, and was sick for about a month as my body relearned how to digest them. After that a whole slew of health problems I had developed spontaneously healed, and I regained my signs of fertility.s I’m a nutritionist, and I do still prescribe a low carb diet in certain situation, but never as a long term lifestyle.

  4. Margaret B Avatar
    Margaret B

    I didn’t know about Lepton until now. I’m always looking for new knowledge in every part of life and found this:) I’m greatful to have found it. The video was VERY helpful!!! TY 🙂 !

  5. Cat Avatar

    Hello. I found your site after a new friend talked to me about my Leptin. I have really enjoyed leasRning about it as it fits me like a tight pair of pants. I am curious though, how long we remain stuck in leptin resistance status after following the plan? How do we know if our brains have started listening to the leptin again? Thanks for the insight.

  6. Cheryl Avatar

    I have to work on getting all this right. I have so Much weight to lose and having so much trouble doing it.

  7. Estela Avatar

    Any ideas for a vegan and grain-free breakfast full of protein and good fats?

  8. Katie Avatar

    I’m fairly overweight, and 30 minutes on an elliptical is a challenging workout for me. Is that too excessive for weight loss if I have a hormone imbalance? Also, I’m allergic to coconut. It’s a shame, I used to like it, but I’ve developed this allergy over the years. Is there something besides butter, lard, and olive oil (unheated) that I can use to cook my food?

  9. Yunar Avatar

    Thank you for the video, I am looking for correlation between leptin and fat and now have a better understanding about this matter.

  10. Cheri Avatar

    I know this is an old post, but do you think yoga is a safe workout while fixing your leptin, or should I hold off until it is balanced?

    1. Cate Avatar

      A balanced exercise regime should be fine… Just not too much. No more than a couple of sessions a week.

  11. Sherry Avatar

    Great post. I recently discovered MSM Organic sulfur which detoxes synthetic molecules, heavy metals and pathogens. A master detoxifier (also iodine). We are all deficient because fertilizers and food additives bind up the sulfur before it can be taken up in our crops. MSM makes your skin very soft when you are taking enough of it because it makes all of your cell walls elastic and pliable. It detoxes junk from your cell walls so they can be more receptive to leptin and other hormones. I’ve been on it for 2 months now and my skin felt exfoliated on the third day (I got a cold on he forth day, a detoxing symptom). I haven’t given it enough time for weight loss, but this week I cut way back on carbs. Maybe I can get past my usual plateau.

  12. Lina Avatar

    I know my hormones are off, but not sure which ones or how much exactly. I know my estrogen is too high. How does this (esp. exercise info) apply to that??

  13. Lori Avatar

    I add a rounded tablespoon of vanilla isopure, coconut oil and geletin to my morning coffee (mix with standing mixer like old soda shops) I’m not sure what wellness mama would say about the protein, but I’ve lost 35 pounds in 6 months and feel great! Low carb eating with lots of coconut oil. I’ve just recently started walking on my treadclimber while watching youtube videos (I need a distraction 🙂 I’ve spend hours reading WM and LOVE all the great advice. Thank you!!

  14. Kaden Avatar

    So much is said about the wonders of coconut oil. What if you are extremely allergic to coconut, like me? Then what do you use as the miracle?

  15. Sonto Avatar

    Hi. I have Leptin injections, just wondering if one can take them at night.


  16. Lu Lu Avatar

    Hi, I am desperate. I am 49 years old, four grown children. I am a personal trainer/masseur.
    I look after other people but can’t seem to look after me 🙁
    I am 5.4 and weigh in at 92ks. I do weight training and I am very fit. However my body aches as if it has arthritis in my hips and elbows and ankles. I have done the 500 cal aday diet, yes I lost weight but when I started eating again I piled the weight back on. My blood test show that I am border line diabetic. I don’t eat a lot of food. My hair has thinned, and I suffer with mood swings though I am not depressed. Which I have been in the past.
    I have cut out bread and pasta as my stomach swells after eating that and I don’t really drink. please help

    1. Cate Avatar

      Get a good naturopath, read The Gabriel Method, join John Asseraf’s Winning the game of weight loss course, and find out what really works… Hint: it isn’t crazy low calories or excessive exercise 🙂

  17. susan w Avatar

    I am 49 and got the official word that I am in Menopause…I had NO hormones. Apparently it began at age 46 or 47… I had been gaining weight without explanation. Nothing in my diet had changed, and I continued to exercise to the point of dripping sweat at the gym, alternated by power walks for an hour on the off days. After a 30 lb weight gain, I began my research. I couldnt lose weight by the way, no matter how much I tried, including starving myself for days, and juicing. The only thing that worked was the HCG diet, but after discontinuing it, my body made me fat again. However i did not that the HCG ( protein / hormone ) made me feel better.
    Finally got my hormones checked out ( My gyno said I had NONE )… I started right away on the Biodentical hormones pellets the Dr injects and which dissolve slowly into your system within 3-5 months. After my first 5 month experience on this, he said my testosterone was nearly normal, my estrogen is still balancing, and my pituitary gland is no longer elevated. I asked more about that- I had thought I knew everything. Turns out when your estrogen /+ other levels fall low as mine did, the Pituitary Gland takes over the program and works overtime trying to compensate for what the Estrogen used to do for your hormones. But it was never designed to do that for the entire body. It’s like asking an AAA battery to power your car. So it taxes itself, your system, and messes up your Cortisol in the futile attempt. Hence weight issues . Falling/ Low Estrogen levels also cause your body to create more fat, as it is looking for more Estrogen ( made and stored in your fat cells)… so hence the weight gain and fat around the middle. It’s still early on for me with having my hormones balanced, but so far, I sleep better, no hot flashes, my skin looks amazing, i am able to maintain my weight or lose weight with the usual efforts, and my cravings are under control. My brain focus has returned ( lack of Estrogen creates arterial plaque in your arteries and your brain= which equals ALZHEIMERS= hardening of the arteries everyone! )… but we only first notice memory loss from time to time. PLEASE URGE anyone you know with unresolved weight mysteries whether they are in menopause or NOT… to have their hormones checked via blood test. As well as their Pituitary glands and THYROID TS3 and TS4 leves. This is a game changer in my opinion . I consider myself very well read about natural health and weight, but this took me awhile to get my head around. I wished I had connected the dots sooner. To treat hormones naturally, please consider BHRT….it is not synthetic.

    1. Jo Avatar

      Are you still doing the BHRT? I am in the same boat you were. I had undetectable amounts of estradiol and my DHEA and progesterone were barely there. I am so miserable not being able to sleep and having hot flashes. I have started forgetting things lately, and it is starting to scare me.

  18. Mel Avatar

    Hi,u are so thorough and it’s rare to find these days on the Internet.. I have battled with low sex drive and overweight for as long as I can remember and recently added one year without menstruation to the list..I’m almost suicidal as I feel sooo unhappy n depressed most of the times. I need a head start on Weightloss that would work for me as the regular diet n exercise(the last time I did vigorous I ended up in the hospital) hasnt worked for me at all.. PLEASE HELP!

    1. Jessica Avatar

      Mel, you should listen to the recent Wellness Mama podcast about PCOS and check out It sounds like your problem is likely a hormonal imbalance (same as me) and FLOliving teaches women to eat to correct that.

    2. Michael Avatar

      Don’t be so crazy about losing weight. You are stressing out too much about it. You’ll develop bulimia if you haven’t already. It’s good to have fat on your body. Try to love yourself including the extra fat. It’s a part of you and you should be glad that it is there. Get into natural cosmetics and do something like weight lifting and build muscle. Become friends with a guy you like first and explore interests together like how to boost your sex drive naturally. You know what I bet would work for that: peruvian black maca.

  19. Carter Avatar

    I was doing research and I came across this blog. I’ve visited you before for recipes and from Pinterest for tips but I never explored the site. I cannot thank you enough for pointing me to the other blogs with the longer posts. I am past 50 and female and past menopause and I thought I was going to have to live with the effects of past diet excesses. Now I have hope that I can truly reverse my conditions and not have to accept the slow painful decline of my vigor. You have been a genuine blessing in my life. May God bless you multiple times over for everyone you have helped. Thank you so much.

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