Leptin diet is a misnomer indicating an approach to dieting geared towards resetting your leptin levels or sensitivity in order to spur fat loss.
Leptin is a hormone discovered as recently as 1994 that plays a crucial role is regulating appetite by sending signals to the brain in order to eat or not depending on the amount of it present in your body.
This amount is in proportion to your amount of body fat, that is the more overweight you are, the higher your leptin levels which in turn quash you appetite.
On the contrary, the slimmer you are, the lower your leptin levels and the greater your appetite.
Unfortunately, sensitivity to leptin also plays a crucial role in its effectiveness, so much that women have more trouble responding to leptin even though they have twice as much levels of it as men, while obese people have in few cases a shortage of leptin, more often a chronic leptin resistance and a difficulty in regulating appetite.
A leptin diet plan revolves around creating the right environment to reset leptin levels and /or sensitivity.
You can do this by reducing or avoiding foods that are more easily stored into fat and increase your insulin levels, that is sugars and carbs.
Sugars and carbohydrates are more easily transformed into fat than fat itself creating unhealthy peaks and drops of insulin levels in your blood stream, meaning also highs and lows in energy levels.
They create a vicious circle of dependency that leads to a difficulty in getting rid of extra fat and a propensity to gain even more even though high leptin levels associated with being overweight would normally tell you to stop eating.
This means that carbs dependency for energy overrides high leptin levels, interfering with sensitivity and response. In other words, insulin resistance triggers leptin resistance and the two go hand in hand.
Drop excessive carbs consumption, replace it with healthy fats for energy in addition to proteins and fibers and your body will switch to a ketosis state that forces it to use the ketones for energy from your fat storage instead of carbs you normally eat.
Wean yourself off carbs dependency for energy first, and your brain will respond accordingly to insulin and leptin levels as a side effect, regulating properly your appetite without over eating and maintaining a steady energy in your body.
Sugars or too many carbs are poison and an addiction for your body.
How Do You Structure A Leptin Diet Plan?
As a consequence of the above point, you should structure your plan by completely changing your eating habits and stick to it.
It takes a good deal of effort to become aware that most of our eating habits in our industrialized era are plain wrong.
Too much processed food and especially the ready availability of carbohydrates and sugars under the guise of snacks, candies and what not wreak havoc in our system in the long run.
Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and their nasty consequences spring up to mind first. It’s not just a matter of dieting, losing weight and looking better, it’s about your health in the first place.
No need to worry with over complicated plans, though, just keep it simple by sticking to few basic principles will set you in the right path:
1 – Eat more for breakfast, less for lunch and a little for dinner. Your body needs more calories during the day than at night.
A heavy dinner is a recipe for fat storage because it is at night that your metabolism slows down, while you can burn calories off more easily in the morning when your metabolism is higher.
2 – Wean yourself off to this new approach by stages. The first stage is the hardest, lasting 3 to 4 days. This is the stage at which your body will have to do the transition from a glycogen based source of energy to a ketone one.
After years of relying on a steady supply of carbohydrates left and right, you body will have to first start depleting all the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver first, then it will have no option but switch to ketosis by releasing ketones from your fat storage as an energy source.
Your insulin levels will then drop to healthy and even levels, without spikes, while your ketones levels will go up. This means you are now in fat burning mode.
3 – After the first 4 days you body will get the message and will keep adjusting its insulin levels down and the ketones up, becoming more efficient in its new found task.
Slowly but surely you appetite and craving for carbs will diminish, you will feel constantly energetic with even mood, without the need for carbohydrates top ups, while your body will have a chance to respond properly to leptin levels.
You will feel hunger as you drop weight but only when you need it and relatively so, not because your insulin levels are skewed and you need energy top ups all the time from carbohydrates.
You should also check our review of this leptin-based diet program for women.
What Is A Good Leptin Diet Food List?
Since reducing drastically carbohydrates is the main prerequisite to restoring insulin and leptin sensitivity to healthy levels and spurring fat loss, it remains to be seen what alternative source for energy and muscle tissue maintenance are out there to take advantage of.
Given that you will need to ingest LESS calories than you spend anyway because your body will be by then primed to take most of the calories it needs from its fat storage, you will still need to top up the total calorie intake a little with some food, as total starvation is a no-option and dangerous and will lead to muscle depletion.
Steady and regular is the way to go.
What sort of foods you should eat then (in moderate amounts) to keep you and your muscles going while your body burns the extra calories it need from your fat storage?
It may sound strange, but since you cannot eat carbohydrates if not in very moderate amount and not sugar at all, there is only one source of foods that can steadily supply you with energy without messing with insulin and leptin, fat!
Fat can give you the extra energy you need while on diet and the good part is that it is nowhere as easily converted into fat as carbohydrates and sugars are.
This is the first counter intuitive idea you must be aware of while on a very low carbs, no sugar, fat burning mode. You will see more down here which fats exactly are good for you.
Then you have proteins, of course. You should actually moderately increase your protein intake to feed your muscles the building blocks they needs, even more so if you workout, but only relatively to your diet food composition. Lastly you have fibers and vegetables, plenty of it.
Vegs and fibers will give you all the vitamins and micro nutrients you need and will help you make you feel full for longer, preventing over eating.
So what is a practical leptin diet food list? Here it is.
Fats for energy:
- Coconut oil
- All Nuts – cashews – peanuts – almonds – macadamia – pistachios – walnuts and so on.
- Omega 3 oil such as fish oil.
- Animal fat.
Proteins for your muscles:
- Fish – tuna fish – haddock.
- Poultry – chicken – turkey.
- Meat – pork – beef – eggs.
Vegetables and fibers for everything else:
- The whole lot.
Note that fruit is absent from this list because even though it is perceived as healthy, it is in fact rich in sugar and should be kept to a minimum. Eat more vegetables instead.
The 5 Rules Of The Leptin Diet
How do you implement the leptin diet? What are the rules to follow to be on the right track? Here is a set of 5 rules that summarize this approach in a simple and practical way:
1 – Rule One: Reduce you carbohydrates and eliminates refined sugars. This means drastically reduce bread, pasta, rice, pizzas to a bare minimum or even eliminate them and for sure say goodbye to candies, ice cream, cakes, patisserie cakes, chocolates, and anything tasting sweet, even artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Replace carbohydrate calories with an adequate amount of quality fats as required, but always in a way to keep your total calorie intake always less than what your body needs, otherwise you would defeat the purpose of switching carbs for fats in the first place.
2 – Rule two: Eat a moderate amount of quality proteins every day, especially at breakfast, less so at lunch time and none at all for dinner. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should not be skipped at all.
A high protein breakfast with eggs, tomato or fish coupled with a dose of healthy fats for energy, like a spoon of coconut oil and a serving of nuts (but not toast or bread, let alone jam) will set you off for many ours of steady energy without the quick insulin spike and drop effect.
3 – Rule three: Eat three times a day only, without snacks here and there because snacks add up an enormous amount of calories without even realizing it.
A low carbs – no sugar diet will help you stave off your snack cravings anyway, since your insulin levels will be steady and the desire for bingeing during the day will naturally wane.
4 – Rule four: Seems obvious, but it never hurts to reiterate, eat small meals, or avoid large meals.
You will find that by trading carbs for fats and avoiding sugars while eating proteins and plenty of vegetables, your appetite will shrink to normal levels because your better insulin levels and leptin sensitivity will prevent you from over eating.
5 – Rule five: Never eat after dinner. Your last meal should be a vegetables and fibers one, as opposed to the fat and protein breakfast and lunch meals.
Not only you should not eat after dinner, but you should actually have dinner not later than at least 3 hours before you go to sleep. Eating anything after dinner will ruin all the correct dieting steps you took during the day, spoiling all your previous efforts.
What Results Can You Expect From The Leptin Diet?
As everything in life, results may vary depending on your personal genetic make up, age, lifestyle and gender, but overall most people who tried the leptin diet lost pounds easily in a natural way without suffering starvation, yo-yo results, muscle depletion or having to memorize complicated procedures or calorie counting.
The leptin diet is meant to readjust your approach to healthy eating by reducing or eliminating certain foods like carbs and sugars, relatively increasing others like healthy fats and proteins, and eating plenty of others still like vegetables and fibers.
This will let your body burn the fat to make up for the calorie deficit with steady, low insulin and leptin levels.
What Causes Leptin Resistance To Begin With?
Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite. When your leptin levels rise, they tell your brain to stop eating through a feeling of satiation, and when they drop they tell your brain to eat through a feeling of hunger.
Leptin levels are also in proportion to fat storage, so the moment your body stores some fat, leptin will tell it to reduce or stop eating.
The opposite happens when you start depleting your fat reserves, leptin levels drop telling you body to eat.
This is what normally happens, a stable environment with minimal body weight fluctuation within a healthy body composition range, low fat and lean muscle.
This mechanism can sometimes go wrong either because of a lack of leptin or the development of a resistance to leptin, even though leptin levels are sky high.
Lack of leptin is a rare condition that strikes only a minority of obese people. In this case administering leptin cures the problem, but when there is leptin resistance at play you need to take a different approach.
Leptin resistance sometimes is naturally higher in certain individuals, for instance women are more leptin resistant than men despite having twice as much levels of it, making it more difficult to burn fat and lose weight.
However, regardless of gender or personal leptin thresholds, leptin resistance is mostly caused by an unbalanced diet too rich in fructose, glucose and, generally speaking, all carbohydrates taken over the years.
This situation causes your liver to become fat and very efficient in turning all these sugars and carbohydrates into fat and store them in your body.
Excessive body fat and the consumption of sugars and carbohydrates both cause a spike and drop in insulin levels every time you eat them, with the result of developing insulin and leptin resistance, a self-fueling circle of never ending addiction to sugars, pasta, potatoes, rice, bread.
Anything sweet is there in place just to keep your energy levels up, instead of burning your own body fat for fuel.
This means that for a diet to be effective it is not only necessary that your total calorie intake is less then what your body needs, but more importantly that you restrict you carbs and sugar intake to reset insulin and leptin resistance.
Failing to do so will result in keeping you fat storage there or gain more, even if you eat less calories than you need, simply because carbs and sugars are so easily converted into fat if you still eat them, locking you where you are.
In order to burn fat and reset insulin and leptin resistance to healthy levels you need more than simply eat less, you must change what you eat and drastically cut down carbs and eliminate fructose and sucrose.
What Are The Symptoms Of Leptin Resistance?
The symptoms of leptin and insulin resistance are there all around for us to see. Millions of overweight people all over the world, at least in the industrialized countries, trapped in the carbs and sugar addiction.
Not just too much of processed food, too much carbs and sugars. Most of the time it is self inflicted situation, albeit unwillingly so, thanks to our unhealthy eating habits from where it is difficult to escape unless you become aware of and act on them.
Leptin resistance symptoms may go together with insulin resistance symptoms, like the inability to kick start fat burning and lose weight, your energy levels going up and down and the need to recharge you batteries with even more pasta, snacks, bread, french fries and the likes instead of using your fat storage as fuel.
These symptoms may go all the way up to diabetes and its life threatening side effects.
It is a different story is for those who are genetically predisposed to be less responsive to leptin, like some women are to compared to men, or lacking completely leptin, like some obese people do.
However, leptin resistance and insulin levels can be improved through a change in diet consisting of no sugars, much less carbohydrates, healthy fats for energy, a moderate amount of quality proteins and plenty of vegetables and fibers.
How Weight Loss And Leptin Resistance Go Hand In Hand
How To Reverse Leptin Resistance
Proper diet and exercise are the best treatment to reverse leptin resistance, steady your insulin levels and keep them low, keep you energy levels constant without drops, kick start ketosis.
Ketosis is the ability of your body to take the energy it needs from ketones in your fat storage and not to rely on a never ending supply of glucose through carbohydrates and sugars.
This process will cause your body to lower its insulin and leptin resistance. The resistance developed from persistent exposure to high levels of these two hormones caused by chronic consumption of carbohydrates and sugars (particularly fructose, but not only), just like becoming deaf by continued exposure to very loud music or noise.
By lowering your carbs, you will also lower your insulin and leptin to normal levels and your body will start again”listening to them” when they say something.
While diet is the main culprit for leptin resistance, exercise can give a huge boost to a correct diet in reversing the process.
When diet and exercise go hand in hand, they become more than the simple sum of the two, and acquire an exponential value for maximum benefit and speedy recovery.
Proper diet and working out help each other in boosting the quality of your metabolism, increasing the fat burning ratio even farther, lowering your insulin levels to a very steady pattern, giving leptin the chance to signal exactly when it is time to eat or stop to a body eager to listen, not one turned deaf by a cacophony of high insulin and leptin levels.
You whole body is then primed to a new, healthy functioning mode, the one it was supposed to be in the first place before the advent of the industrialized age.
Why Does Leptin Resistance Cause Obesity?
Obesity is simply the more extreme end of a range of overweight stages. The reason for it may be simply cumulative, the longer you are resistant to leptin and insulin, the more you keep eating in an unbalanced way, the more fat you accumulate. But of course this is a simplistic approach.
Everyone is different with a diverse range of leptin floor and ceiling thresholds to begin with, anything else being equal, so some people may have more trouble than others to burn fat even by following the right steps, that is eliminating sugars, drastically reducing carbohydrates, eating moderate amounts of healthy fats and proteins, lots of non-starchy vegetables/fibers and exercising.
If this is the case, only professional help by a specialist doctor/s can help assess the reason behind obesity.
It may be a leptin production issue, rather than resistance, and this can be solved only with medical help. In the rare cases this happens, obese people seem to respond well to the treatment and start losing weight.
Are Leptin Resistance Supplements Any Good?
Plain and simply, no. Leptin supplements have popped up since the discovery of leptin way back in 1994, not unlike slimming pills for losing weight even earlier.
Once there is a problem that costs effort and discipline to resolve, like dieting and exercising, some people tend to take short cuts in order to achieve their goals without actually achieving them, but simply believing in what they want to believe, in this case that is possible to burn fat and lose weight without addressing diet and lifestyle issues first.
As long as there are people who want to believe in Alice in Wonderland, there will also be the ones ready to supply them with a range of fairy tale solutions in exchange for money. Up to them.
As far as leptin resistance supplements are concerned, leptin is a protein that when eaten is broken down and digested, therefore it is useless in supplement form, hence it cannot help restore leptin levels, if this is the problem, or restoring leptin sensitivity.
These supplements do not even contain leptin, only ingredients that allegedly improve leptin functioning or make you feel full. Source.
What Is A Good Diet Plan To Reset Leptin Resistance?
A standard diet plan to restore leptin sensitivity involves cutting down carbohydrates and sugars first of all, eating more fats, quality proteins and lots of vegetables and fibers.
A method or strategy is paramount for optimal results, but this should come second nature once the cravings for sugars, snacks and carbs start to fade away few days into the diet.
Your body is an adaptable machine and generally speaking it will only benefit from cutting down carbs and sugars.
You should also rearrange your meal food composition: a larger protein based breakfast with quality fats for energy instead of carbohydrates, a small lunch with a little more proteins and a little carbohydrates (but no more) or healthy fats (better) and a very light vegetable and fibers only dinner.
You should eat 3 times a day only without snacks in between. Snacks will kill all your good deeds and offset your calorie intake more than you think.
It may take few days to get used to just 3 meals a day without snacks but with the new diet regime your body won’t feel unnecessary cravings either since it will be taking the energy it needs from a steady supply of your body fat.
Dinner time should be earlier than you used to have before so as to avoid going to bed with your last meal still being digested, even though it was just a vegetable dinner. Calories digested in your sleep will turn more easily into fat when your metabolism is slower.
By having dinner sooner or not too late, you will also increase the “fasting period” before breakfast the next day.
If you have dinner at at 5 or 6pm and breakfast the next day at 7am , it will be 11/12 hours fasting window which will force your body to use its own fat for energy.
This is why a protein based breakfast with a little quality fat, like coconut oil or a serving of nuts for energy, will prevent the insulin spike caused by carbs like toasts, cereals or potatoes, forcing your body into still using its own fat and the nuts or oil serving you gave it as a top up without turning them into fats.
Fats do not turn into fats because carbohydrates and sugars are much more easily turned into fats than fat itself.
Thus, a diet plan to restore leptin resistance as well as lowering insulin levels goes also well hand in hand with intermittent fasting principles.
Intermittent fasting consists of setting a daily window of opportunity for eating and leaving the remaining time food free in order to force your body to use its own body fat.
This window of opportunity is not set in stone and may vary depending on your level of adaptation and goals.
You may want to start with 12 hours and gradually reduce it to 8 so as to have 8 hours for eating and 16 hours for fasting every day, bearing in mind the general rules of eating just 3 meals in each food window frame, cutting down carbohydrates and sugars, replacing them with fats, proteins and vegetables.
And no snacks.