The Leptin Diet is a program devised by board-certified clinical nutritionist Byron J. Richards, CCN, the founder of a supplement company called Wellness Resources and an expert on the leptin hormone. Optimizing levels of leptin is the concept underlying the eating plan.
What Is the Leptin Hormone?
According to the Endocrine Society, leptin, a hormone released from fat cells, regulates food intake and energy expenditure in helping maintain weight. Because leptin is produced in fat, the amount synthesized correlates to the amount of body fat in a person: The greater the quantity of body fat, the more leptin is made. Furthermore, a person who gains fat produces more leptin; and a person who loses fat makes less.
Leptin is called the satiety hormone, since it suppresses the appetite. In other words, more is produced to stimulate hunger when the body needs energy, and less is produced to reduce hunger when it doesn't need energy. During weight loss, the number of fat cells decrease, which makes leptin levels drop. Consequently, hunger levels rise, an effect that poses a challenge to weight loss.
When a person is healthy and has a normal weight, this appetite-regulating system works well. However, individuals with obesity are less sensitive to this hormone, which causes the body to secrete extra leptin, a condition called leptin resistance. When this happens, the person keeps eating, and their fat cells produce yet more of the hormone in an attempt to signal satiety, culminating in even higher leptin levels.
What Is the Leptin Diet?
Instead of a starvation diet, the leptin eating plan is grounded on the science of the leptin hormone, states Wellness Resources. It involves five rules:
- Finish the evening meal at least three hours before going to bed.
- Eat three meals a day, and allow five to six hours between meals. Don't snack.
- Don't eat large meals; stop eating when you feel slightly less than full.
- Eat a high-protein breakfast. Choose foods that will provide 20 to 30 grams of protein.
- Reduce carbohydrates, but don't eliminate them completely.
The Leptin Diet advocates eating an array of fresh, organic foods to provide energy. It also encourages reducing the intake of foods containing chemicals or additives.
Another tenet of the eating plan involves not obsessing about calories but being familiar enough with them to ingest 400 to 600 calories at each meal. It advises that the daily diet consist of 40 percent fat, 30 percent protein and 30 percent carbohydrate, along with 30 to 50 grams of fiber.
The diet recommends drinking 8 to 16 ounces of water between meals. It also permits the consumption of other beverages that contain no calories or artificial sweeteners, such as plain coffee, tea or lemon water. Soda, diet soda and flavored water with artificial sweeteners, in addition to energy drinks and soy drinks, are excluded.
Moderate exercise is a part of the Leptin Diet. It suggests starting slowly and increasing the length of workouts gradually. Being consistent is more important than the degree of exercise intensity.
Read more: How to Find a Workout You'll Actually Stick With
Leptin-Reset Meal Plan
Richards provides a number of recipes on the Wellness Resources website. Leptin-reset breakfast options include an extensive array of smoothies, which are supplemented with protein powder. An alternative would be a high-protein breakfast featuring eggs.
Salads are a good bet for lunch. Followers of the diet can try choices such as kale salad, lentil salad, Greek salad, beet with goat cheese salad and heirloom tomato with mozzarella salad. Heartier salad recipes include cranberry walnut chicken salad, quinoa salad and crab salad. If desired, soup recipes, such as one that features butternut squash, can be part of the plan.
Richards also offers a variety of dinner menu recipes. Examples include salmon with roasted asparagus, chicken chili, shrimp with Brussels sprouts, steak burritos, turkey burgers and chicken cutlets with cherry salsa.
Other Leptin Benefits
Lake Forest College says scientists have invested much time in leptin research since its discovery. The hormone's role in obesity might lead to the development of potential therapies for the condition.
Yet, leptin does much more than regulate weight and energy. Although fat cells are the primary source of the hormone, it's also synthesized in other parts of the body, including the stomach, heart, kidney, brain, skeletal muscle and mammary glands, according to a research article published in Neuroreport in March 2016. Because of the multiple sources, it has a broad scope of possible benefits.
Leptin influences many body functions, particularly during times of low food intake, notes a May 2017 article in the journal Temperature. The hormone might be used to treat abnormal distribution of fat and the temporary cessation of menstruation due to a hypothalamic dysfunction.
Studies show leptin reduces the abnormal changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease and depression, which might make it a novel treatment for the illnesses, adds the Neuroreport article. Preliminary investigations suggest the hormone could be of value for stroke.
Leptin may also play a role in bone metabolism and reproductive functions. Researchers are learning about its mode of action, but it remains to be seen whether clinical trials will show if the effects translate into a therapeutic agent to treat various dysfunctions.
Is the Leptin Diet Safe?
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has concerns about the long-term safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets such as the Leptin Diet. Such eating plans can be lacking in important nutrients. Their higher fat and protein content and lower fiber content raise questions about health consequences.
Lower fiber consumption increases the likelihood of constipation, and it may elevate the risk of cancer and diverticulitis. The reduced intake of potassium, magnesium and vitamin C may heighten the incidence of osteoporosis.
Some people on low-carbohydrate diets have reported diarrhea, bad breath, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, nausea and kidney stones. In view of the negatives, any low-carbohydrate diet that limits consumption of fruits, vegetables and beans can't be endorsed by doctors, concludes the AAFP.
- Hormone Health Network: "What Is Leptin?"
- Wellness Resources: "The Leptin Diet"
- Wellness Resources: "The Five Rules of the Leptin Diet"
- Wellness Resources: "Leptin Diet Resources"
- Neuroreport: "The Role of Leptin in Central Nervous System Diseases"
- Lake Forest College: "Leptin and Its Role in Obesity"
- Temperature: "The Role of Leptin in Health and Disease"
- American Academy of Family Physicians: "Low-Carbohydrate Diets"