Leptin is a hormone produced in your fat cells. According to Wellness Resources, leptin sends signals to your brain to let you know that you are full and should stop eating. It also signals your brain to turn on your metabolism. The presence of excessive leptin has been linked to obesity. When there is too much leptin in the bloodstream, leptin sensitivity decreases because the excess appears to block the effective flow of leptin to the brain. The result is increased appetite and cravings, as well as decreased metabolic function. Other studies show that injected leptin had a positive impact on both metabolism and cravings in rats, although the effect was minimized or reversed in some rats with pre-existing obesity.
Foods Rich in Leptin
According to Anne Collins Weight Loss, leptin can't be administered orally because the body can't process it through the intestines. If there were leptin-rich foods, it wouldn't have any significant impact on weight loss, weight gain or cravings because the body doesn't absorb the leptin through the intestinal track. Since leptin is a hormone that is produced in your adipose tissue, there aren't any leptin-rich foods that will cause your leptin levels to rise. There are foods, however, that can help to increase or decrease your leptin sensitivity. If your leptin channels are not functioning correctly, eating foods to increase leptin sensitivity may help to restore the way leptin signals your brain to shut off your appetite and begin burning fuel. The result is that you will eat less and metabolize foods more efficiently, which could result in weight loss.
Foods that Decrease Leptin Sensitivity
In his book "The Leptin Diet: How Fit is Your Fat," Byron Richards suggests that eating excessive carbohydrates and snacking may be your biggest hurdles to re-establishing leptin sensitivity. High carbohydrate foods that contain simple starches like white flour and potatoes, along with highly processed foods containing sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, all contribute to decreased leptin sensitivity. Eating large meals or eating too frequently can also lead to a decrease in leptin sensitivity.
Foods That Increase Leptin Sensitivity
Eating foods that balance leptin levels can help to reestablish leptin sensitivity and turn leptin's signals to the brain back on. According to Byron Richards, having protein for breakfast is one step you can take to begin to restore leptin sensitivity. Richards also recommends fiber-rich foods and leafy greens. World's Healthiest Foods also recommends fish as a food that helps to regulate leptin levels in the body.
- Byron J. Richards Wellness Resources: What Is Leptin?
- National Academy of Sciences: Leptin Actions on Food Intake and Body Temperature Are Mediated by IL-1; Giamal N. Luheshi, Jason D. Gardner, David A. Rushforth, Andrew S. Loudon, and Nancy J. Rothwell; 1999
- Anne Collins Weight Loss Program: Leptin and Weight Control
- “The Leptin Diet: How Fit Is Your Fat?"; Byron Richards, CNN; 2006
- World’s Healthiest Foods: Fish-Rich Diets May Help Balance Leptin Levels