Leptin Diet: Benefits and Risks

The leptin diet is mainly focused on keeping the hormone leptin adequate. This allows leptin to perform its functions properly, thus preventing weight gain

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With all the confusing types of diets for varying nutritional needs and fitness goals, it can be hard to determine which one works best for you. Different health gurus and advocates have their own candidate for the most effective diet plan in promoting weight loss. An addition to the already long list is the leptin diet, a diet plan which centralizes on the hormone leptin.

Since the discovery of leptin in 1994, it has been associated with many weight-related claims. Leptin’s main function, however, is to inform the brain that you must stop consuming food because you are already full. According to Dr. Robert Lustig of the Endocrine Society’s Obesity Task Force, leptin is the body’s starvation hormone that travels from the fat stores of the body to the brain through blood circulation. Dr. Lustig describes it as the fat cells’ method of informing your brain that your energy thermostat is properly set and you have an adequate amount of stored energy to perform regular metabolic processes. Simply put, leptin levels indicate whether your energy is sufficient or at a certain threshold level. Accordingly, when people eat less and the fat cells are reduced, the production of leptin is also affected.

The association of leptin to weight loss is mainly grounded on its ability to attach to receptors when reaching the appetite center, which results in the suppression of appetite. While the hormone travels through the nervous system, it also prompts fatty tissue to burn calories and break down fat.

Leptin is also called the “obesity hormone” because having too much leptin in your blood leads to developing resistance. Leptin resistance interferes with how the hormone performs its functions, which can result in gaining unwanted weight. A contributing factor to this is the hormone cortisol which is directly related to stress. Stress may interfere with the brain’s reception of the leptin’s signal, causing you to eat more than the necessary amount of food. This phenomenon explains how stress causes people to eat compulsively.

With all these being said, it’s clear that hormones are significant in keeping your body functioning well, and imbalances can cause you to either lose or gain weight. Studies suggest that the leptin diet may help in resolving hunger pangs and fatigue. It also shows the potential for preventing diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

A certified nutritionist and businessman named Byron Richards was responsible for designing the leptin diet. This diet works by keeping your leptin or “fat hormone” level at the right amount. By having adequate leptin in your body, the brain receives all the signals and is able to regulate your metabolism. Thus, if the leptin hormone is kept in check, it will be easier and faster to lose body fat.

Rules Of The Leptin Diet

The leptin diet involves five main rules. First, start your day by eating a protein-rich breakfast. Consume about 20 to 30 grams of protein. Second, eating anything after dinner or three hours before sleeping is prohibited. Third, limit yourself to having three meals a day—in-between snacking is a no-go. Let about five to six hours pass before having your next meal. Fourth, significantly reduce your intake of carbs. Fifth, do not reach your fully satiated state. Be mindful when it comes to portions and stop eating before you’re full.

If you wish to become a leptin dieter, you must also educate yourself regarding the number of calories in the foods you consume. Under the leptin diet, each meal typically consists of 400 to 600 calories, with a ratio of 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbs. It’s also important to avoid highly processed food rich in sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium. The same goes for food items that have high carbohydrate content. Other types of food to avoid include soy products, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated beverages.

Instead, it’s recommended that you include whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and lean meat in your diet. Grains and legumes that contain high amounts of protein are also good for leptin dieters. It’s also suggested to increase your fiber intake, since consuming fewer amounts of carbs can lead to digestive issues such as constipation. Fiber will also keep you full for longer and prevent sudden snacking urges.


  • Supports a good mindset on food: The leptin diet advises against late-night snacking, the consumption of artificial additives and high amounts of carbs, and eating recklessly. It promotes portion control and mindfulness in eating. Thus, it helps one develop a good relationship with food.
  • Increases productivity level: Individuals following the leptin diet often create routines that distract them from eating. Thus, they start new hobbies and engage in recreational activities. Some also choose to learn new skills or become involved in volunteer work. By keeping themselves busy, they won’t be thinking about snacking all the time.
  • Reduce food craving episodes: It may be hard to keep off snacking urges in the first few days. But after weeks of following the leptin diet, it has been reported by many leptin dieters that they have experienced hunger pangs less frequently. This is mainly because when the brain is getting the right signals from leptin, it prompts you to stop eating, thus preventing overconsumption and urges to eat.
  • Boosts your intake of nutrients: Considering that you are consuming whole foods, you’ll have richer sources of vitamins and minerals that are essential for achieving and maintaining optimum health.
  • Speeds up weight loss: The leptin diet is not just concerned with nutrition, but also provides exercise guidelines that are relatively easy to follow and maintain. Studies also show that when leptin is functioning well, you will not have to exert too much effort to burn fat. Choosing whole foods, practicing portion control, and following a consistent workout regimen are key to healthy weight loss.


The leptin diet limits your food choices, thus, it may leave feelings of dissatisfaction which in turn, can make the diet unsustainable in the long run.

This diet is not supported by a statistically significant number of studies on human subjects.

The caloric restrictions of the leptin diet may negatively affect individuals with extremely active lifestyles such as athletes.

The given caloric requirements may not be appropriate for children and teenagers.

Before starting any diet plan, it is advised that you talk to a physician so you can determine your caloric requirements and specific nutritional needs.

Functions of Leptin Diet
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