Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain to stop eating. Does the leptin diet work for losing weight? Is it hard to follow? What do you eat? Find out!
What is Leptin?
Leptin is a hormone. All hormones are important. But it terms of looking good in a swimsuit, it’s super important. Why? Because it’s one of your two hunger hormones. It signals the brain that you’re not hungry anymore.
Here’s how the hormone works: It’s released by your fat cells. The hormone travels to your hypothalmus gland in the brain. Once it reaches the hypothalmus, leptin tells your brain “no more food.”
The term leptin comes from the Greek word, “leptos.” Leptos means thin.
So the more leptin you have, the more “leptos” you’ll be?
Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The more of the hormone you have, the more body fat you’ll likely have. Remember, leptin is stored in your body fat. So if you have more leptin, you have more body fat.
The more of the hormone you have, the more your brain is resistant to receiving the signal not to eat anymore. That’s why the leptin diet, which we’ll get to in a second, is also called the “leptin resistance diet.”
The Leptin & Insulin Connection
Leptin resistance is similar to insulin resistance. When your body needs more insulin to control blood sugar levels, you can’t burn body fat for energy. You end up storing more body fat. And here’s what happens when you are more leptin resistant: your body thinks it’s hungry even though you’re really not experiencing true hunger.
We’ll get into the nitty gritty about the leptin diet shortly. But first, another interesting fact about the hormone….
It wasn’t discovered until 1994. That’s a blink of an eye ago. But since the discovery of it, there have been over 4500 studies. And as a result, a specific diet designed to make people more sensitive to the hormone has become more popular. So, too, have support pills for the diet….
What Does Leptin Do In The Body?
Now you know that leptin tells your brain that you’re no longer hungry. That’s why it’s often called “the satiety hormone.”
But it also plays other key roles. Especially for metabolism. It controls the number of calories you eat. It controls how much fat your body stores.
The hormone plays a key role in homeostasis. Homeostasis means that your organs are functioning in a perfectly-normal state. So leptin, then, keeps you from overeating.
On the flip side, it also helps prevent you from starving. That’s why not eating for too long is bad. It makes leptin levels dip too low. When this happens, your body thinks it’s starving. Your body desperately preserves its body fat.
But eating too much and too often is the problem for most people.
If we all have a hormone that prevents us from overeating why then is there such a high level of obesity?
Blame it on man-made sugars like high fructose corn syrup. Fake sugars trick our brains into thinking we’re still hungry.
That’s why an entrepreneur and nutritionist named Byron Richards created a diet to solve this problem. (And presumably to make lots of money.)
What is The Leptin Diet?
Richards learned everything there is to know about the hormone. He became a leptin expert.
Among lots of things, he realized through research studies that leptin and insulin are closely related. If you can control leptin levels, then it’s possible to tame insulin resistance and obesity.
So here’s what Richards came up….
His plan calls for:
- Consuming smaller portions at each meal (400-600 calories)
- Eating 3 meals a day
- No snacking
- Drinking lots of water
- Avoiding fake sugars
- Avoiding soy protein
- Eating a decent amount of protein at each meal
The leptin diet includes many of the sane principles of other diets. Don’t eat processed food. Choose organic fruits and vegetables. Avoid soda and other sugary drinks and foods. Common sense stuff.
How does the diet work?
First, listen to your mom: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Unlike intermittent fasting and the bulletproof coffee diet, which recommend skipping breakfast, Richards recommends eating it.
In fact, the diet calls for eating a lot of protein for your first meal of the day (at least 20 grams).
This differs from the advice of many people who believe breakfast is the best time to eat carbs. (Because you have all day to burn off the carbs; the problem is that many people are sedentary and don’t move enough to burn the carbs.)
For breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, you don’t have to be low carb. That’s one advantage of the diet compared to, say, keto or Paleo. However, Richards recommends choosing higher-protein carbs like quinoa. Avoid high-starch grains, however, such as white rice.
In between meals don’t snack. No snacking is ever allowed on the leptin resistance diet.
And make sure you finish dinner at least three hours before bedtime.
Here’s another rule of the diet: stop eating before you’re belly is completely full.
What do you eat on the leptin diet?
Imagine a dinner plate. Protein sources (organic meats, eggs, fish) should fill slightly less than half the plate (about 40%). A third of the plate should be dietary fat (avocado, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and/or meat, which also contains fat). The other third of the plate ideally consists of low-starch vegetables.
As you can see, this method of eating allows you to eat more protein than the keto diet. In fact, on the leptin diet, you can have a gram of protein for up to 75 percent of your body weight. In other words, if you weigh 175 pounds, you can have up to 75 grams of protein per day.
You don’t have to count calories on this diet. However, you do need to have basic knowledge of nutrition facts to make sure you’re following the diet correctly.
Advantages of the eating plan
As mentioned, you don’t have to drastically cut down on carbs. Some people struggle to ditch carbs because they are so used to eating them. So that’s one advantage of the leptin diet.
Another one (also mentioned above) is that you get to eat a hearty breakfast. Popular diets like intermittent fasting recommend skipping breakfast in the morning. But from the prospective of this diet, you will have better leptin sensitivity if you kick-start your metabolism in the morning with a protein-rich breakfast.
The diet calls for basic, common-sense suggestions that virtually every diet calls for.
Disadvantages of the diet
No snacking is a major bummer for many people. But to control your insulin and leptin hormones, this really is a must.
Some people struggle with not being able to eat late at night. If you’re used to having a late dinner, dessert and then bedtime right after, it might be difficult to adjust to a leptin diet schedule.
Another disadvantage is that Richards, the creator of the diet, suggests taking supplements to support leptin hormone levels. Richards owns the company, Wellness Resources, which makes the diet support supplements.
Dealing with hunger?
Inevitably, at some point, just with any other diet, you’re going to feel hungry at some point.
If the urge to snack is irresistible, try this: Drink water with lemon or lime.
Or, you can have sugar-free tea. And try to do something to take your mind off of food. Knit a sweater. Read a book. Go for a walk. But don’t just sit on the couch and watch TV. Watching TV is a trigger for snacking.
Does the diet work for weight loss?
There are a ton of studies on leptin. But research analyzing specifically Richards’ Leptin Diet is hard to come by. If you want to take a look at some research on it’s role in hunger, there’s lots to choose from (like this one and this one.)
Everybody’s body is different. For some people, following these diet rules may work. But for other people, eating that much protein and a big breakfast may not help burn fat. However, most of the principles of the diet seem to make sense for weight control.
Are there any side effects?
For some people with kidney problems, eating up to 1 gram of protein per three-quarters of body weight may be too much. Consult with your doctor.
Here’s an example of what to eat….
For breakfast, eat 2 eggs with a small side of steel-cut oatmeal with flax oil. Wait at least 4 hours before having lunch. A leptin diet-friendly lunch can consist of wild salmon with quinoa and steamed broccoli.
For dinner, eat a salad with sunflower seeds, avocado, chicken and olive oil.
Seems like every other diet recommendation out there, right?
This way of eating takes the advice to listen to your body when you’re hungry and throws it out the window. Ignore your hunger cues, especially during the day and at night before bedtime. If you’re hungry in the morning after waking up, then eat.
But after breakfast, ignore your brain if it’s been less than 4 hours or so in between meals. And if you’re experiencing hunger between meals, try to increase the size of your meals.
It’s kind of a bummer that the diet calls for a specific supplement. It makes you feel like you’re being sold to. But then again, maybe the supplement does indeed work for making your body more sensitive to leptin. Perhaps give the diet without the pills a try first….
What do you think about the leptin diet? Leave a comment….