Foods to Boost Leptin

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 28, 2020

The discovery of leptin in 1994 caused a lot of excitement as scientists hoped they could use it to help people control their weight. Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells that affects the way the body stores and burns energy. It is sometimes known as a satiety drug because it reduces appetite.

Researchers soon learned some facts about leptin that debunked their original assumptions. They found that people with obesity had plenty of leptin in their bodies but still gained weight. They presumed that people who are overweight may have a condition called leptin resistance. Researchers also learned that leptin supplements don't work since they can't get past the blood-brain barrier and are metabolized by the body.  

Why You Need Leptin

In addition to regulating appetite, leptin has been found to play many roles in the body, including boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and creating healthy bones. However, these roles require additional research to be fully supported.

Leptin works in combination with another hormone, ghrelin, which signals hunger. Together these are called the hunger hormones since they control how often and how much you want to eat. Yet, scientists think that leptin plays a more important role than ghrelin. 

Although supplements of leptin were found ineffective for weight control, doctors treat a few conditions with injections of a synthetic form of leptin, including:

Congenital Leptin Deficiency

Congenital leptin deficiency results in uncontrolled hunger. It is usually discovered early in life when children exhibit severe obesity and delayed puberty. Injections of a leptin analog are effective in controlling this condition. 

Generalized Lipodystrophy

Generalized lipodystrophy is a serious condition in which individuals have almost no body fat. Often they accumulate fat in their organs, and may develop metabolic health risks such as diabetes. Because they have few fat cells, people with this condition don't produce enough leptin. Therefore, they are treated with injections of a synthetic leptin. 

Foods With Leptin

Most food sources do not effectively make leptin available for your brain, so there is little point in looking for food sources with it. Instead, it is recommended to speak with your healthcare provider and discuss including a satiety drug in your routine as well as making lifestyle changes to increase your body’s leptin levels.


In order for leptin to work properly in the body, you need plenty of high-quality sleep. One study found that people who were sleep-deprived had high levels of ghrelin, which makes you hungry, and lower levels of leptin, which makes you feel satisfied.


Your choice of food is also important. Today researchers are looking at the relationship between leptin and triglycerides, a type of fat also known as lipids. Research shows that high triglycerides seem to impact the way leptin works in the body. A diet that is designed to lower triglycerides could help to boost leptin in your body.


Load up on these nine foods to lower your body’s triglycerides levels so that can help leptin work more effectively in your body:


  1. Berries
    Replace sugary treats with fruit in its natural form. Berries like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are lower in sugar than some other fruits and can help to lower your triglyceride levels.
  2. Unsweetened Beverages
    Experiment with herbal, black, or green teas, or drink water with lemon or a fruit infusion to lower your triglycerides levels and boost leptin in your body.
  3. Healthy Oils
    When cooking, use moderate amounts of canola oil, olive oil, or high-oleic sunflower oil for most uses. F laxseed oil is also a good choice for non-cooking uses.
  4. Vegetables
    Eating vegetables raw, steamed, or roasted is a great way to lower your triglyceride levels. Choose kale or cauliflower instead of starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes.
  5. Legumes
    Beans, peas, and lentils are great sources of protein and fiber that can boost the functionality of leptin in your body. Try to avoid baked beans and others with added sugar.
  6. Lean Meat, Poultry, and Fish
    Fish is the best choice for lowering triglycerides. If you choose other animal proteins, moderate your servings to about 3 ounces and prepare with a healthy oil for added benefits.
  7. Whole Grains
    Try brown rice instead of white and whole-grain breads instead of refined loaves. Also consider switching to whole-grain pasta or a healthier version like those made from chickpeas to lower triglycerides levels.
  8. Salad Greens
    Don't forget to eat your greens! Power up the toppings, and consider salad dressings low in salt, sugars, and fats.
  9. Mushrooms
    Mushrooms are high in nutrients and low in calories, which can help to regulate your triglyceride levels and boost leptin in your body.

Show Sources


Diabetes: "Triglycerides induce leptin resistance at the blood-brain barrier."

Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology: "Metreleptin for injection to treat the complications of leptin deficiency in patients with congenital or acquired generalized lipodystrophy."

The Heart Institute: "Guidelines for Lowering Triglycerides and Raising HDL Cholesterol."

Hormone Health Network: "What is Leptin?"

PLoS Medicine: "Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index."

University Health News Daily: "What Is Leptin?"

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