A Leptin diet is about resetting your leptin levels or sensitivity to kick start fat loss.
Leptin is a hormone discovered recently as 1994 that plays a crucial role in regulating appetite by sending signals to the brain to eat or not, depending on its amount 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 your 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 of it as men. In contrast, obese people have, in few cases, a shortage of leptin, more often a chronic leptin resistance, and difficulty in regulating appetite.
A leptin diet plan revolves around creating the right environment to reset leptin levels 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 bloodstream, meaning also highs and lows in energy levels.
They create a vicious circle of dependency that leads to difficulty getting rid of extra fat and a propensity to gain even more even though high leptin levels associated with being overweight would typically tell you to stop eating.
This means that carb’s dependency on 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. Your body will switch to a ketosis state that forces it to use the ketones for energy from your fat storage instead of the carbs you usually 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 your appetite properly without overeating and maintaining steady energy in your body.
Sugars or too many carbs are poison and 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 them.
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 about over-complicated plans, though; keep it simple by sticking to a few fundamental principles that will set you on 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 quickly 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 transition from a glycogen-based energy source to a ketone one.
After years of relying on a steady supply of carbohydrates, your body will have to start depleting all the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver first.
Then, it will have no option but to switch to a ketosis mode by releasing ketones from your fat storage for energy.
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 four days, your body will get the message and will keep adjusting its insulin levels down and the ketones up, becoming more efficient in its newfound task.
Slowly but surely, your appetite and craving for carbs will diminish; you will feel constantly energetic with an even mood, without the need for carbohydrate top-ups. At the same time, your body will have a chance to respond correctly 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 carbohydrates is the main prerequisite to restoring insulin and leptin sensitivity to healthy levels and spurring fat loss, you need to look into alternative sources for energy, and muscle tissue maintenance is out there to take advantage of.
You will need to consume fewer calories than you usually spend because your body will be primed to extract 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 should you eat then (in moderate amounts) to keep you and your muscles going while your body burns the extra calories it needs from your fat storage?
Since you cannot eat carbohydrates if not in a 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 a diet, and the good part is that it is nowhere as readily 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 carb, 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 moderately increase your protein intake to feed your muscles the building blocks they need, even more so if you work out, but only relatively to your diet food composition. Lastly, you have fibers and vegetables, plenty of them.
Vegs and fibers will give you all the vitamins and micronutrients you need and will help you make you feel full for longer, preventing overeating.
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 simply and practically:
1 – Rule One: Reduce your carbohydrates and eliminates refined sugars. This means drastically reduce bread, pasta, rice, pizzas to a bare minimum or even stop 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 lunchtime, 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 hours of steady energy without the rapid 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 carb – 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: It 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 overeating.
5 – Rule five: Never eat after dinner. Your last meal should be a vegetable and fiber instead of the fat and protein breakfast and lunch meals.
Not only should you not eat after dinner, but you should 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?
Like everything in life, results may vary depending on your genetic makeup, age, lifestyle, and gender. Still, overall most people who tried the leptin diet lost pounds quickly 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, 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 regular, 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 your body to eat.
This happens typically, a stable environment with minimal bodyweight fluctuation within a healthy body composition range, low fat, and lean muscle.
This mechanism can sometimes go wrong because of a lack of leptin or the development of leptin resistance, 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 you need to take a different approach when there is leptin resistance at play.
Leptin resistance sometimes is naturally higher in specific individuals. For instance, women are more leptin resistant than men despite having twice as many levels of it, making it more challenging to burn fat and lose weight.
However, regardless of gender or personal leptin thresholds, leptin resistance is mainly 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. The result is 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 to keep your energy levels up instead of burning your 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 than what your body needs, but more importantly, that you restrict your carbs and sugar intake to reset insulin and leptin resistance.
Failing to do so will result in keeping your fat stored there or gain more, even if you eat fewer 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.
To burn fat and reset insulin and leptin resistance to healthy levels, you need more than to 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 worldwide, at least in industrialized countries, are trapped in carbs and sugar addiction.
Not just too much-processed food, too many carbs and sugars. Most of the time, it is a 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 and manifest themselves with these symptoms:
- Your body is unable to kick start the fat-burning process and lose weight
- Your energy levels go up and down.
- You feel the need to recharge your batteries with even more pasta, snacks, bread, french fries.
These symptoms may progress to diabetes with its life-threatening side effects.
It is a different story for those genetically predisposed to be less responsive to leptin, like some women than men, or lack leptin entirely, as some obese people do.
However, you can improve leptin resistance and insulin levels by changing a diet consisting of no sugars, much fewer 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, keep them low, keep your 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 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 loud music or noise.
By lowering your carbs, you will also reduce 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 considerable 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 go hand in hand for boosting the quality of your metabolism. Together, they improve your fat-burning capability even further, lowering your insulin levels to a very steady pattern.
As a result, your leptin hormone has a chance to signal precisely when it is time to eat or stop eating. Your body will be eager to listen as it won’t be turned deaf by a cacophony of high levels of insulin and leptin.
Your whole body will be 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 end of a range of overweight stages. The reason for it may be merely 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.
Some people may have more trouble than others burning fat even by following the proper steps, 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 you can solve this only with medical help. In rare cases, obese people seem to respond well to the treatment and start losing weight.
Are Leptin Resistance Supplements Any Good?
Plain and simple, no. Leptin supplements have popped up since the discovery of leptin way back in 1994, not unlike slimming pills for losing weight even earlier.
When a problem costs effort and discipline to resolve, like dieting and exercising, some people tend to take shortcuts to achieve their goals without actually achieving them.
As long as some people want to believe in Alice in Wonderland, there will always be a steady supply of fairy tale solutions in exchange for money.
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 a few days into the diet.
Your body is a versatile machine and generally speaking, it will only benefit from cutting down carbs and sugars.
It would help if you also rearranged 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 little carbohydrates (but no more) or healthy fats (better)
- A very light vegetable and fibers dinner.
It would be best if you ate three 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 three meals a day without snacks, but with the new diet regimen, 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 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 5 or 6 pm and breakfast the next day at 7 am, it will be 11/12 hours fasting window that will force your body to use its fat for energy.
This is why a protein-based breakfast with a bit of quality fat, like coconut oil or a serving of nuts, will prevent the insulin spike caused by carbs.
Toasts, cereals, or potatoes force your body into using its 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.
Thus, a diet plan to restore leptin resistance and lower insulin levels goes 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 to force your body to use its 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 of fasting and gradually reduce it to 8 hours. This way, you have 8 hours for eating and 16 hours for fasting every day.
But you should always bear in mind the general rules of eating just three meals in each time frame, cutting down carbohydrates and sugars, and replacing them with fats, proteins, and vegetables.
And no snacks.
My name is Deborah Foster and I am a Weight Loss Coach with a background in Nutrition Coaching and Personal Training. I specialize in helping women and men break through the yo-yo diet cycle and lose weight for good, without being miserable in the process.