Top Ten Ways to Alleviate Leptin Resistance

July 5, 2012 14 Comments by Scott Isaacs, M.D.

In my blog “Leptin Not Working?” I discuss the hungry hormone leptin and the effects of leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that signals your brain to tell it how much fat is in your body. If you don’t have a lot of body fat, your leptin level is low, which boosts appetite, coaxing the body to accumulate more fat. But if you are already fat, the brain may be immune to the appetite-suppressing signals of leptin. This is a condition known as leptin resistance.

 Leptin resistance means that your brain thinks you are starving when the reality is just the opposite.  Dysfunctional leptin drives appetite and especially cravings for high calorie foods and junk foods.  The brain is doing anything it can to prevent starvation. 

Leptin resistance also causes lower metabolism and can lead to a host of other hormone problems like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, low testosterone (in men) and thyroid problems.

How do you fix leptin resistance?

There aren’t any medications to correct leptin resistance yet, but there is a lot you can do enhance the appetite-suppressing effect of leptin. Here are the top ten ways you can alleviate leptin resistance.

1. Eat a balanced diet.

Eating a balanced diet means eating equal (or roughly equal) percentages of the three major nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I recommend eating about forty percent carbohydrates, thirty percent protein and thirty percent fat.

2. Eat the right kind of carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

Simply eating a balanced diet is not enough. You can have a balanced diet eating unhealthy foods but that won’t fix your leptin. You should avoid processed carbohydrates, especially those high in sugar and flour and eat more healthy carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat dairy products. Eat low fat sources of proteins and avoid fatty cuts of meat. Eat healthy fats rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like fish, olives, avocados and nuts.

3. Eat foods high in antioxidants.

Foods high in antioxidants like fresh vegetables and fruits alleviate leptin resistance because they calm inflammation.

4. Eat green vegetables before 10 AM.

Make eating vegetables in the morning a daily habit. Think of it as taking a vitamin supplement. You can add vegetables to your breakfast, have them as a morning snack or just wolf them down in a couple of bites. Try doing this, it won’t hurt you.

 5. Eat consistently throughout the day

To alleviate leptin resistance, you need to avoid going long periods of time without eating. You should never skip meals, especially breakfast. It is best to eat every three to four hours while awake.

6. Move your body.

Exercise has a very power healing effect and leptin resistance is no exception. When it comes to exercise for leptin resistance there are two rules you must follow. 1) Do it. 2) Keep doing it. Consistency is a critical factor. I recommend exercising every day for one hour.

7. Drink enough water.

If you are dehydrated, you will be leptin resistant and you will have difficulty losing weight despite valiant efforts. You should drink two quarts of filtered water every day. Drinking cold water helps boost your metabolism in addition to helping leptin.

8. Get enough sleep.

Many people simply don’t get enough sleep. You should aim for getting six to eight hours of quality sleep every night. Good quality sleep is necessary for leptin to work properly. Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders have been linked to leptin resistance, increased appetite, lower metabolism, diabetes and a host of other ailments.

9. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish, calm inflammation and alleviate leptin resistance. Shoot for 1000-4000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily. A four ounce serving of salmon contains about 2000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. You can take supplements too, but make sure it is a high quality one.

10. Calm inflammation.

 Having excess fat in the body is the most common source of inflammation. Fat cells make inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines which wreak havoc throughout the body. By reducing the amount of fat in your body, you will lower inflammation.

For more information on leptin resistance and all your hungry hormones, read my book Hormonal Balance: How to Lose Weight by Understanding Your Hormones and Metabolism.




  1. jose says:
    Monday, September 30, 2013 at 9:05pm

    good info..thanks

  2. Proco Lascott says:
    Monday, August 4, 2014 at 1:54am

    Regarding point #5: I understand that eating small meals regularly will maintain a high metabolic rate but doesn’t intermittent fasting and restricted calorie intake increase leptin sensitivity?

    Also, you recommend not to skip breakfast but doesn’t working out on an empty stomach in the morning take advantage of the high growth hormone level and train the body to use fat as a fuel?

    cheers for the great blog!

  3. Scott Isaacs, MD says:
    Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 7:44am

    No, despite what you may have read on the internet, there intermittent fasting does not improve leptin sensitivity. You can work out in the morning and then eat breakfast after if you want, but don’t skip it altogether.

  4. John says:
    Friday, August 22, 2014 at 7:39am

    I am reading this article on the internet?
    Other Leptin diets say ‘only 3 meals a day and don’t snack’

  5. Scott Isaacs, MD says:
    Friday, August 22, 2014 at 8:28am

    John, I know what you are talking about. There is a lot of false information about leptin on the internet and even in some books about leptin. The advice not to snack is not based on real science but on one author’s interpretation of some of the early leptin research (that was not done in humans). There is better research out there. The important thing to remember is that leptin does not work alone. There are many hunger hormones like ghrelin, insulin, peptide YY, neuropeptide Y, glucagon-like peptide-1, etc. all of which influence hunger, cravings and metabolism. Your best bet is to focus on all your hunger hormone working together, as I discuss chapter by chapter in my book Beat Overeating Now!

  6. Bindu says:
    Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 2:47pm

    after reading an article on “no snacking” in the net I followed it and also kept 5 hrs between meals and lost 4 lbs in 2 weeks.

    First 2 days were difficult.. got easier.

  7. Scott Isaacs, MD says:
    Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 4:55pm

    I am so glad to hear that is working for you. Typically, we consider weight loss successful when you keep it off for 5 years. As you may know from my books, leptin is a hormone that controls body weight from a long-term perspective. I hope you will be able to have long-term success. You are off to a great start. Keep up the great work! Please keep me posted!

  8. charmaine scollary says:
    Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10:42pm

    I find if i dont eat breakfast i am not hungry all the time. I find when i eat bf i am ravenous all day! Can you explain this?

  9. Scott Isaacs, MD says:
    Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 8:24am

    You must not be eating the right foods for breakfast. Check out Hormonal Balance for some breakfast ideas.

  10. Velvet S says:
    Monday, October 27, 2014 at 3:18pm

    I have lost 60 pounds since February. Now I am at a plateau which is about to turn into weight gain. I am craving all the time. What is your idea of using metformin to curb those cravings. Several years ago my OBGYN put me on metformin while I was trying to concieve. I lost weight the whole time I took it. I want to try that again. Good idea or no?

  11. Jillian says:
    Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 7:53pm

    Thank you for writing this article. Very interesting and I’ve always questioned the grazing vs. fasting ordeal. I read one comment:

    “charmaine scollary says:
    Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10:42pm

    I find if i dont eat breakfast i am not hungry all the time. I find when i eat bf i am ravenous all day! Can you explain this?”

    This happens to me too. It’s because breakfast basically “starts the metabolic engine”… so your metabolism won’t begin if you don’t turn the key (eating breakfast). I’m the same way. If I don’t eat breakfast, I’m usually not hungry until the afternoon, which is not a healthy way to treat your body, depriving it of nutrients and then stuffing face when you’re finally feeling the appetite. When I do eat breakfast, I’m usually hungry again a couple hours later.

    Beginning a workout regime will also make you more hungry. Your body needs to replace the energy it’s lost from working out. Just make sure you’re not replenishing with a cheeseburger; this is what protein powder is for. 🙂

    A question about the article though: are there any supplements that would regulate or “re-set” leptin resistance? I’m considering purchasing a hormone regulating supplement (Estrosense). I know this supplement is geared more towards regulating PMS hormones, but would it have any benefit to letpin resistance as well?

    I’ve also read articles on the effect of leptin resistance on thyroid hormones. What is the connection there?

    Thank you,

  12. jason says:
    Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 5:18pm

    okay I’m thoroughly confused. Leptin is a hormone, protein that is produced in your fat cells or fills your fat cells? it controls hunger and metabolism and resistance to it can cause you to overeat to feel full?

    But dieting can cause your body to slow down your metabolism to prevent starvation mode.

  13. Scott Isaacs, M.D. says:
    Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10:06am

    The endocrinology of hunger hormones like leptin can be complex. I recommend that you read my book “The Leptin Boost Diet.”

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