Are Leptin Resistance and Insulin Resistance Related?

leptin and insulin resistance and weight gain in midlife

Leptin Resistance vs. Insulin Resistance 

Leptin and insulin are two hormones that play a crucial role in regulating energy balance and metabolism in the human body. Leptin is produced by fat cells and helps to regulate appetite, while insulin is produced by the pancreas and helps to regulate blood sugar levels. However, in midlife women, these hormones can become dysregulated, leading to leptin and insulin resistance. In this blog, we will explore how these two imbalances are related and what can be done to manage them.

What is Leptin Resistance?

Leptin resistance occurs when the body becomes insensitive to the effects of leptin, leading to an increase in appetite and a decrease in energy expenditure. This can lead to overeating, weight gain, and obesity. Leptin resistance is particularly common in midlife women, as they tend to have higher levels of leptin due to increased body fat.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance occurs when the body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can ultimately result in type 2 diabetes and is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and other health problems. Like leptin resistance, insulin resistance is also common in middle-aged women.

How are Leptin Resistance and Insulin Resistance Related?

Leptin and insulin resistance are closely linked, as they both involve dysregulation of the body’s energy balance. When the body becomes resistant to the effects of leptin, it can also become resistant to the effects of insulin. This is because both hormones signal the body to store or burn energy, and when one is dysregulated, the other can be affected as well.

Studies have shown that women with leptin resistance are more likely to develop insulin resistance, and vice versa. This suggests that these two conditions may share common underlying mechanisms, such as inflammation and oxidative stress.

Does Being Overweight Mean I’m Leptin-Resistant?

Not all overweight women are leptin resistant, although leptin resistance is more common in women who have extra pounds. Leptin resistance can develop in individuals with a high body mass index (BMI) due to chronic exposure to high levels of leptin, which can happen in obesity. However, not all overweight individuals become leptin resistant, and some individuals may develop leptin resistance due to factors such as genetics or inflammation.

It’s important to note that obesity is complex and can have multiple causes, including genetic factors, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors. So, the relationship between obesity and leptin resistance is not always straightforward. However, research suggests that women who are overweight are more likely to have leptin resistance, which can contribute to the development of other metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

What Can Be Done to Manage Leptin and Insulin Resistance in Midlife Women?

Managing leptin and insulin resistance requires a multi-pronged approach that involves lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, as well as medical interventions.

Dietary Changes

Midlife women with leptin and insulin resistance should focus on a balanced diet that is low in processed foods and high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This helps to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are common contributors to these conditions. Foods that are high in antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can also help to improve insulin and leptin sensitivity. The Mediterranean diet fits the bill here!


Lack of movement + stress is the perfect recipe for leptin resistance, so get moving! Regular exercise can help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, which in turn helps improve leptin sensitivity.

This does not mean you have to go to a gym! There are many forms of movement that are free and fun. Your goal is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Weight training helps muscles use glucose more effectively and helps maintain bone and muscle health, so get in 2 weight (HEAVY) workouts a week. I HIGHLY recommend working with a trainer to get started as he or she will make sure your form is good and can design a program to address weaknesses and capitalize on strengths.

Supplements that Increase Sensitivity to Leptin and/or Insulin
  1. Berberine (lowers blood sugar and is as effective as metformin)
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber (this product has both and lowers leptin and increases adiponectin))
  3. Myo-Inositol (lowers insulin and leptin levels)
  4. Chromium (controls blood sugar)
  5. Alpha lipoic acid (lowers blood sugar)
Medical Interventions

In some cases, medications may be needed to manage leptin and insulin resistance. For example, metformin is a medication commonly used to treat insulin resistance and may also improve leptin sensitivity. GLP-1 inhibitors are currently all the rage as they result in weight loss and reduce “food chatter”. But they come with downsides such as severe nausea and significant expense.


Leptin resistance and insulin resistance are two common conditions that commonly affect midlife women. These conditions are closely linked, and managing one can help to improve the other. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, are important for managing these conditions, but medical interventions may also be needed in some cases. If you are experiencing symptoms of leptin or insulin resistance, let’s talk. My team can design a plan to help you return to your natural weight.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone-balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at

Also, she offers a membership group, Hormone Harmony with Dr. Anna Garrett, which provides women in midlife with affordable expert guidance and community support.

Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultation. Find out more at

Get Chapter 1 of Dr. Anna’s Book—Free!

Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony

This book gives you the tools you need to navigate this transition without losing your mind or your mojo.

By clicking “Submit” you are opting-in to receive email marketing from me. Don’t worry, you’re able to unsubscribe at any time if you don’t find value in the content I send, but I’m confident that you will.