Are you overweight? Struggling to lose weight? Have trouble feeling full? You could be dealing with leptin resistance, in which case you need to focus on getting your hormones back in alignment naturally. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about leptin resistance and give you a 3-step leptin reset so you can start making some real progress.

“You could probably nail these three things to the wall when it comes to success with fat loss and health: gut health, hormone regulation, and sleep.”

I recently made that statement during my appearance on Vinnie Tortorich’s podcast. And then I got to thinking about that second part. More specifically, I started thinking about how the conversation of hormone regulation with food almost always centers around insulin.

But insulin is just one of many hormones in play. And hormones all interact with each other. I’m not sure who boiled the story down to “insulin,” but doing so is a drastic oversimplification.

So let’s talk about one of the hormones that isn’t insulin. Let’s talk about leptin…

What is leptin? What does leptin do?

Leptin is a hormone made by your body fat. That right there is probably a strong sign that you should be paying attention, agree?

Leptin interacts with leptin receptors in your body to regulate things like hunger (via satiety) and activity level. Both very important things for someone like you who is trying to drop body fat and achieve health and fitness goals.

To illustrate just how important leptin is, I’m going to show you a picture of two rats…

Our large furry friend on the left is unable to produce leptin and our little friend on the right has no leptin issues.

Still want to talk about insulin? Didn’t think so.

Now, I should be clear about something: it’s unlikely that you have a leptin production problem. Most people who are leptin resistant produce leptin just fine. The problem is that the leptin receptors are hard of hearing…

What is leptin resistance? What are the symptoms of leptin resistance?

When you’re insulin resistant, your insulin receptors don’t respond well to the presence of insulin. Thus, the body has to make more and more insulin in order to “get the message across.”

Well, leptin resistance works kind of the same way. It’s not that there isn’t enough leptin, it’s that the receptors don’t respond to the signaling properly.

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. – Kent Holtorf

If you’re overweight and growing more-so each day, you need to take a hard look at leptin. If you’re more than 30 pounds overweight, you almost certainly have some degree of leptin resistance.

If you experience a bunch of food-as-reward and overeating issues, especially with carbs, that’s another sign because leptin dims the reward center of your brain when it’s functioning properly — this is what produces the feeling of satiety.

Leptin resistance basically makes you satiety-resistant. Your brain never says, “hey, you can stop now.” And it’s a cycle, because the more body fat you have, the more leptin you produce and the more the receptors ignore the signals.

If you frequently use the excuse, “my metabolism sucks,” you’re a prime candidate for leptin resistance. And you might not be wrong — if you’re leptin resistant then you’re metabolism DOES suck. But you can fix it.

We can see the importance of proper leptin communication in people who don’t produce leptin at all. People who don’t have leptin are almost always overweight, but when these people are given leptin injections they feel sated after meals and naturally lose excess fat. Bada bing, bada boom. It’s fairly clear cut.

You don’t have that problem, because it’s extremely rare, but what’s *not* rare is producing a bunch of leptin and having deaf leptin receptors. In today’s world, it’s rampant.

So let’s talk about how to get your leptin back on track…

How to Increase Leptin: A 3-Step Leptin Reset

This is a very basic leptin reset that works for most people. If you’re diligent with it, you should see and feel the changes within 4-6 weeks.

Step One: Eat in a way that naturally aligns hormone function — aka a whole foods approach based on lots of healthy fat, well sourced protein, and carb intake mostly from vegetables. Stages one through three of Total Body Reboot are strategically designed to restore proper hormone function, including leptin function.

Step Two: Eat a ketogenic-style breakfast within 30 minutes of waking.

Step Three: Eat enough at each meal so that you can limit eating to two or three times per day. Absolutely avoid snacking. Leptin is a circadian hormone that must be kept in proper rhythm.

There are other factors, tips, and tricks that influence how quickly you can reset leptin sensitivity, but those are the main ideas.

If you have any questions, drop a comment below.

Comments

  • Wenchypoo says:

    Now tell me how I can encourage weight loss while in a menopausal state–the absence of estrogen has permanently derailed my weight loss efforts. Estrogen for both sexes is vital when trying to lose weight–as vital as leptin. All the words in this article (and many others from many other people) are aimed at the 20-something to 30-something crowd (basically the writer’s own age group)–what about us older folks? The ball game changes COMPLETELY when estrogen has walked off the field.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      I do have a taret audience in mind when writing articles. They certainly won’t apply to everyone. But I’d also suggest that there may be other things beyond menopause and estrogen going on. Have you had labs done, by any chance?

  • AM LT says:

    I had one question – you talk about a ketogenic breakfast within 30 minutes of rising but I workout in the morning and can’t stomach food before I exercise. Also if I eat when I wake up – I’m just starving by lunch. I find it easier to push breakfast until I’m hungry and then have less time in between. Thoughts? As to Wenchypoo’s comment – I too am a woman who just turned 50 and there are significant difficulties when menopausal symptoms start that make things that worked before no longer work. Would appreciate possibly a post directed at our demographic. Thanks.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      If you’re consciously trying to reboot your Leptin, the most effective way is to move exercise to late afternoon and prioritize the fat/protein in the morning. If you’re starving by lunch, you’re likely not getting enough fat and/or protein at breakfast (or your hormones are otherwise out of balance).

      • AM LT says:

        Thanks Kevin. Unfortunately with my work and family life, exercising in the afternoons or evening just isn’t possible. For breakfast I usually have 2 eggs scrambled in about 1T of grassfed butter. Often I’ll throw in some left over meat or veggies. Do you have suggestions about changing that? I usually eat around 8 or 8:30 a.m. and then I’m OK until lunch but if I were to eat at 6:30 or 7 a.m. I’d be very hungry come noon.

  • AM LT says:

    Sorry – one more question – you asked Wenchypoo if she had labs done – what labs would you suggest?

  • Alicyn Hargroves says:

    Very interesting post! I first read about this through a study a couple years ago at NIH. I tried talking to my previous doctor about it but he just brushed me off. Thanks for the information

  • Tony Scarbrough says:

    Does intermittent fasting like not eating at all in the morning and limiting the food intake between the hours of 1pm and 8 pm affect the leptin balance.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      If you’re trying to restore Leptin to optional function, then I recommend three meals a day. If you don’t feel you’re leptin resistant, then you can experiment with intermittent fasting.

  • ASark21 says:

    Hey Kevin,

    How long does this process of eating and following protocol take to reboot leptin? Thanks

  • chris brown says:

    What about Thymus extracts, would that stimulate the metabolism of Leptin? After all, I take thyroid for my hypothyroid.

  • Edwina says:

    Hi!

    I work nights and my sleep schedule is all out of wack. I sleep early in the morning and stay up all night. What do you suggest for my schedule?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hey Edwina. Truthfully, I’d suggest changing jobs. If you can’t do that, then blackout shades are a must, pick up a copy of http://remrehab.com and make sure everything else about your sleep is in order.

  • bianca says:

    Hi, I have been reading a lot about leptin resistance lately. in particular, Dr Kruse’s reset plan (the same as yours with just a few more details on geting started). I havent however been able to get any answers from my posts to him (last message was 2011! so i think he no longer administers the site?).

    I have been following the plan for 2 weeks now, cutting out all grains, dairy, gluten, sugar, all non naturally occurring artificial sweeteners. Have been eating at least 50g protein in the morning, and no more than 25g carb across the day (im 30kgs overweight).

    My questions are this:
    with the exception of eating within half an hour of rising, must i eat my other 2 meals at the same time each day, given the circadian rythmn?
    If I do happen to have artificial sweeteners (synthetic) as they are in most protein shakes, will it effect the reset?
    dairy is normally out, but i note that a lot of people are using butter or cream as their fat source when eating carbs, is this ok?
    when adding a fat source to my carbs, what is the daily limit of fats?
    and lastly, will i still manage a leptin reset and weight loss if my carbs stretch to around 60g per day (all from veg)?
    many many thanks!
    Bianca

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Bianca,

      I wouldn’t recommend using shakes — real, whole food is always best.

      You have outstanding questions, but they don’t have straightforward answers. A lot of this is dependent on you as an individual, where you’re at, where you’ve come from, and what effect the changes have in the short and medium term. The guidelines are simply a starting point.

      For example, “when adding a fat source to my carbs, what is the daily limit of fats?” or your question about the amount of carbs per day — This is all highly dependent on you, specifically.

      This is the type of work we do inside Total Body Reboot. It’s the coaching relationship that produces results in these areas.

      Cheers.

  • bianca says:

    Oh sorry, and lastly, can I use pea or rice protein shakes?

  • GS says:

    Hey! I’m a 13 year old girl and trying to get rid of my belly fat. Also the fat on my thighs. I want to do it in under 2 weeks before school starts. Do you have any tips for that. Plus I am 121 lbs, 35% body fat, 37 in waistline. Please help!!

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi GS, shoot me an email. I’d like to talk with you about this.

      • GS says:

        Um I don’t like giving out my e-mail… And it’s fine to talk out here.

      • Christopher says:

        You have to understand, GS, that when a 13 year old girl starts talking about needing to reduce a little bit of belly fat, QUICKLY, before school starts, a WHOLE LOT of red flags go off in our adult brains. This is a touchy subject to us. We’ve all been there plus many of us have teenagers of our own.

        Because you ARE 13, it is incumbent upon us adults that we do not interfere with your own parents’ rights and obligations in raising you and I’m sure that that is Kevin’s concern. That being said there are a couple pretty sensible things we CAN say…

        Most of us, here, would suggest that you stop worrying about how a bit of belly fat is going to affect how you fit in but instead simply focus on eating right and convincing your parents to keep the “Standard American Diet” of processed foods out of the fridge and pantry. Read a LOT about diet and discuss family menus with them.

        If you do that, plus get away from computer/game screens and get plenty of whole-body activity, throughout the day, and get 9… yes NINE!, hours of sleep per 24 hour period (and, in doing so, going to bed WAY BEFORE midnight)… you’ll end up ahead of the pack and doing great on exams and life and become a very healthy adult.

        Good Luck! 🙂

  • TH says:

    I’m a mom of 4 and my youngest is 4 months old, and I am nursing. I am 80 pounds over weight, and I’m desperate. I don’t want to loose my milk tho. Is this something I should be following? What would you suggest I do to drop weight and still be able to provide nourishment for my baby?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi TH,

      Thanks for stopping by. Right now, I’d recommend just focusing on eating the healthiest foods possible and being a wonderful mommy. You can do a full Reboot if you want, which will help you create the healthiest environment possible which will have the side effect of dropping excess weight. Whatever you choose, I would highly recommend you avoid anything that is focused on the conscious reduction of calories, manipulating macronutrient ratios, specific macronutrient avoidance, etc.

  • Julie says:

    What role does one’s thyroid hormones play in this mix? For me, I don’t think it’s as much of a satiety issue as it is a thyroid issue in my inability to lose weight. I eat a clean, organic diet, exercise on a daily basis, nurse my 9 month old, and have food allergies that pretty much prohibit me from indulging. I have been diagnosed as hypothyroid and can’t drop any more of the baby weight (about 20 lbs left) no matter what I do. Of course, I’m willing to try the above suggestions to optimize my leptin sensitivity, but how about optimizing one’s thyroid hormones?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hypothyroidism definitely presents issues. But, so does breastfeeding and pregnancy — some women find weight loss easy when breastfeeding and others find it impossible. Pregnancy takes a huge toll on the body.

  • Ashley says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m sorry if I missed this, but what is it about afternoon exercise that makes it your recommendation? I prefer AM workouts because I am typically very tired after busy days at work and feel like my workouts are best with higher energy levels. Thank you!

  • Jackie says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I am interested…I am a 44 years old….I have done HCG in the past to loose weight and have successfully kept it off for the most part…But I recently took up Crossfit and eat not terribly bad but realized I had hard time eating enough calories during the day but I would start snacking right before dinner plus eating my dinner…I am starting to see quite a bit of weight gain…Even working out 3-4 times a week…

    However, I had my gallbladder removed 24 years ago…What about the fat…I do well with moderate fat usage….Is there anything you can suggest…

    THANKS!

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Jackie,

      I think first it’s important to determine goals and how you’re going to measure progress toward those goals. For example, you say you’re gaining weight. But I’m not sure if that means fat or muscle. You’re doing Crossfit, which has the potential to increase your lean muscle mass (and thus your weight), so that’s a confounding factor if you’re using weight as a measurement. So — are you saying that you believe you’re gaining FAT and not just WEIGHT?

      • Jackie says:

        I would assume its fat…Because clothes that I could wear are too small….I have gone up at least 1 full dress size…I don’t look lean….I am only 5’1″ on a good day….And I am a perfect pear shape…I have never been athletic so I have nothing to compare it to…But everything I have read about muscle gain…I would think I would at least be getting leaner, i.e. still be wearing the same dress size or smaller…Correct?

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Without knowing anything else about you, it’s impossible to say. But, this is why I recommend doing measurements in the beginning, before pictures, etc. Weight is the worst way to measure progress. I’d also need to look at food, which is the most important factor, and don’t have any idea of what you’re eating at the moment.

        This is the kind of work that I reserve for Total Body Reboot members. I can best help you if you’re working through that course >> http://my.rebootedbody.com/tbr/

        Cheers.

  • Jenny says:

    I believe it has to do with cortisol levels.

    • Jenny says:

      Sorry- this was supposed to be in response to Ashley’s question about exercising in the evening. It has to do with cortisol levels.

  • Yusra says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I have a high body fat of 32% and hardly any muscle, I weigh 52kg and I’m quite short (5ft1). I can’t lose any fat (mostly on my thight) and can’t even gain any muscle, I do HIIT cardio and still can’t gain muscle or lose fat, do you think I could be Leptin resistant
    Thanks

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Yusra,

      Unfortunately, there are too many variables for me to give you an answer without a lot more information. This is the type of work that we can do together in Total Body Reboot. If you’re serious about getting answers and results, go there.

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  • Nka1235 says:

    Hello,
    I am a 30 year old female and have been overweight as long as I can remember. About 4 years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I am being regulated with synthroid I exercise and eat right but I cannot lose any weight. Of course my doctor says my levels are normal so I should have no problem losing weight, that I must be eating to much. So I eat less and gain weight. I cannot find a balance and cannot seem to burn any fat. Do you think Leptin could be an issue here Help!!!

  • Devan says:

    Hi. I am currently working on resetting my leptin. I am interested in the other tips that influence how fast you can reset it. Can you please share any of them? Also, how important is it to eat breakfast in the first 30 minutes after waking up? Is an hour too long?

    Thanks so much!

  • Melinda says:

    So, I love your information AND I love all the Q&A’s! I have battled Hypothyroid for 24 years and now I am approaching age 47!!! I find I follow diets, Weight Watchers, Nutrasystem, Atkins, Paleo, and I see little to no weightloss, so I embarked 5 days ago on a Leptin Reset. Dude!!!! I am having hot flashes like crazy! I have never had these before and now I have them 2 to 4 times a day! Do you think this is a result of my change in eating? I eat breakfast, heavy in protien at around 4:30-4:45 am, lunch, ususally a salad and lots of meat, some nuts with vinegar for lunch around 11 am and my dinner (last time I eat) at 4:30-5pm, ususally fish, grass fed beef or turkey, plenty of lean meat and a bit of veggies, cabbage or broccoli. I have been doing very well and by day 3 the hot flashes started. I keep hoping this is a good sign. Opinion?

  • Alina says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Is the leptin diet going to lower your body temperature? I believe that I have read so on Jack Kruse’s website. Isn’t it a bad thing? My temperature is already lower by 1 to 1.5 degrees than the normal of 98.6. I am thinking that the low carb diet is going to slow down my metabolism even more. I am confused!
    Thank you in advance for your input.

  • Sarah Guest says:

    How long do you do this for?

  • Dani says:

    Another menopausal woman here. I am insulin sensitive but let must be leptin resistant. I am approximately 51 to 52 kilos of lean body mass with about I’m trying to do the math from pounds to kilos 30 no 20 kilos to lose. I just tried to ketogenic diet which did nothing for me other than the fact that I was starving and did not lose any weight in fact I think I gained a pound or two. I have tried a keto diet numerous times with no success ever. At this point I’m going to try Tim Ferriss slow carb diet which is basically moderate protein half a cup of beans at two or three meals a day lots of fresh veggies no fruit no Dairy no grains no sweeteners no sugars which I had already been doing pretty much anyway. any comments you might have would be helpful I walk several days a week about 10,000 steps and I’m going to start to add in some pretty serious resistance training. I come from a bodybuilding background any thoughts would be appreciated PS other than low vitamin D and higher leptin levels mine was 17 on a lab I am the healthiest person in my Doctor’s practice. Thyroid cholesterol everything everything was right on the money

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