How Leptin Resistance Contributes to Weight Retention

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In the United States there are few health issues quite as common as obesity. With nearly two-thirds of all Americans being obese or significantly overweight, the severity of the issue is obvious. There are many factors that can contribute to the prominence of unhealthy weight including poor diet, chronic conditions, and lifestyle issues such as elevated stress and lack of sleep. However, perhaps the most factors are metabolic and hormonal dysfunctions. Leptin is a critical hormone that influences both of these systems and plays a significant role in how the body acquires and retains excess body weight. Learning of leptin’s impact on weight and how to better optimize its activity may be the key to achieving healthier weight for many people throughout the U.S.

The Lowdown on Leptin

Fat cells produce leptin, which informs the body when it should be storing or burning fat. As the number of fat cells in the body increases, so too does the amount of circulating leptin in the bloodstream. When working as intended, the increased leptin level tells the body that it does not need to store more fat and promotes sensations of fullness. However, when levels of leptin are maintained at a high level for an extended period, leptin resistance can develop. As receptivity to leptin is reduced, the signals informing the body that it should be utilizing and burning fat are not properly received. This causes the body to hold on to fat and continue producing more leptin.

Many obese individuals have increased leptin levels due to the excess fat that they carry. Unfortunately, this often causes leptin resistance. Reduced leptin receptivity makes the hypothalamus think that fat stores are depleted and should be restocked. This triggers the release of various hormones that inhibit fat utilization and promote sensations of hunger. As fat continues to accumulate, leptin levels increase resulting in greater hormonal resistance and perpetuation of weight gain.

The Rippling Effects of Leptin Resistance

The thyroid and metabolism are closely related and have a great deal of influence on weight regulation. Leptin resistance and increased leptin levels can disrupt thyroid function resulting in greater difficulty losing weight. As leptin resistance develops, signaling from the hypothalamus to the thyroid diminishes. This results in reduced secretion of TSH, slowed T4 to T3 conversion, and elevated levels of reverse T3. An imbalance of these hormones significantly disrupts metabolic function resulting in greater acquisition and retention of fat. It is common for those with leptin resistance to develop thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, which further impedes weight loss.

What Causes Leptin Resistance?

Leptin resistance is most frequently caused by a sustained increase of leptin production. This is why those who are obese and already producing a high volume of leptin often develop leptin resistance. However, other factors can contribute to the development of leptin resistance.

Consuming a high volume of grains, processed foods, sugars, and other inflammatory foods metabolized by fat cells increases leptin release. If such a diet is sustained, leptin levels can remain elevated ultimately inducing leptin resistance. Lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, elevated stress level, overeating, and excessive exercise can also promote the occurrence of leptin resistance. To resolve leptin resistance, it is important to implement strategies and practices to eliminate or alleviate these contributing factors.

Combatting Leptin Resistance

Because leptin resistance creates a cycle of weight gain and reduced responsiveness to leptin it can be difficult to resolve. However, there are a variety of methods that can be used to improve both leptin receptivity and weight loss.

Diet Right

When trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to aggressively cut calories or follow a “crash diet” to get results as fast as possible. Unfortunately, this strategy often causes a significant decrease in metabolic function that isn’t fully restored even after healthy caloric consumption is reinstated. It is far better to follow a well-balanced diet that limits consumption of processed foods, sugars, grains, and other inflammatory substances. Alternatively, try to replace sugars and simple carbs with healthy veggies. Also, be sure to incorporate proteins and healthy fats, which promote satiation. These substances are also essential for hormone building, which is an important part of restoring thyroid, hypothalamic, and metabolic balance. Improving these areas can help balance leptin levels and alleviate leptin resistance.

Destress and Sleep More

Stress is a major contributor to hormonal imbalances including leptin. Elevated stress levels also contribute to hunger, poor energy regulation, and often greater storage of fat. Similarly, lack of sleep can also disrupt hormone levels and activity. Make sleep a priority by scheduling at minimum eight hours of sleep per night. This helps reduce both physical and mental stress while supporting hormonal balance.

Click here for a few stress-relieving tips.

HCG Treatments

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that can be used in the treatment of various hormonal issues including thyroid malfunction, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance. A carefully administered HCG treatment increases production of hormones that activate difficult to use fat stores such as those found in the stomach hips and thighs – learn more about the hCG protocol here. With these caloric strongholds made available, patients are limited to a daily 500 calorie intake as the body is relying on its already stored energy in the form of fat. This method can be incredibly beneficial in resolving leptin resistance but should only be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable professional.

For even more information on treating leptin resistance, read this.

Leaving Leptin Resistance Behind

There are many factors involved in weight gain and retention. One of the most common seen among those who are battling obesity is leptin resistance. In every case, leptin resistance must be assessed and optimized depending on individual patient factors. Even though patient-specific plans are important, employing general tips and hormone-supporting practices such as rebalancing diet, alleviating stress, improving sleep, and seeking appropriate medical assistance can be hugely beneficial in resolving leptin resistance thereby allowing healthy weight loss.


1. New Revelations Support Diet and Exercise to Reverse Leptin Resistance, Thereby Promoting a Healthy Weight. Mercola.

2. How to Fix Leptin Resistance to Control Weight, Cravings & More. Wellness Mama.

About Holtorf Medical Group

The Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease.

We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.