4 Sneaky Hormones That Are Ruining Your Fat Burning! Much has been spoken recently about the importance of hormones in fat burning and there are all sorts of pills and potions that claim to be able to manipulate hormones to improve fat burning but in this article we want to look into the four key hormones that influence fat burning and weight loss. This will give you all the information you need to make informed choices when it comes to food and activity.
Whether you’re on a diet or are taking part in vigorous exercise this information will be critical to your success. The two main hormones we’ll look at first are insulin and cortisol and we’ll show you how they synergistically work to mess up your weight loss efforts. After that we’re going to describe the functions of two little known hormones – leptin and grehlin.
Many of you will have heard of the hormone insulin, perhaps some of you know a person with type 1 diabetes who has to inject insulin many times a day to keep their blood sugar stable, or perhaps you may be or know a person with type 2 diabetes who has been told they have high levels of insulin or that they have insulin resistance.
But what actually is insulin and what does it do?
Insulin is a peptide hormone released from the pancreas in response to food being eaten. Insulin’s job is to carry the breakdown products of carbohydrate digestion – namely glucose – into the cells to be used for energy. Insulin also carries the breakdown products of protein digestion – namely amino acids – into the cells for a number of functions including protein synthesis. It seems that the breakdown product of fats in the diet – namely free fatty acids – do not have an effect on insulin. Insulin can communicate with all manner of cells in the body; muscle cells, brain cells, liver cells and fat cells telling them to take in glucose and amino acids. This mechanism works perfectly if there is a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates in the diet. The problem arises when there is excess carbohydrate in the diet, especially carbohydrates that release their glucose very quickly, which leads to sharp rises in blood glucose levels. Once the liver and muscle cells are full of the sugar they need insulin can no longer have an effect, however the fat cells happily take up the remaining sugar from the blood stream and an interesting thing happens. The glucose in the fats cells is metabolised to a substance called glycerol 3 phosphate, which in turn can be converted to triglycerides, essentially turning sugar in to fat.
When there is insulin floating around in the blood stream you body shuts off lipolysis – the signals to burn fat. You see you can’t burn fat and store sugar at the same time; you can only do one or the other. So keep your insulin low and your fat burning turned on. This is vitally important for anyone who wants to reduce their body fat to understand as without dietary modification fat loss will be futile. Seek a nutrition consultation.
Stress is a major cause of weight gain. We tend to eat more when we are stressed and use food as comfort, particularly sweet sugary foods. Stress comes in many forms – food intolerances, alcohol consumption, financial stress, relationship stress, mental emotional stress, poor blood sugar regulation etc… When you are stressed you release the stress hormone cortisol. One job of cortisol is to raise blood sugar by releasing fats and protein that are sent to the liver and converted to glucose, however if this glucose is not used (as most of us are inactive when we are stressed such as at work or sitting in traffic) it gets re-stored as fat – particularly visceral fat that accumulates around the organs. Research has shown that stress leads to the accumulation of fat stored on the tummy area. So if you want to lose some weight, you are going to need to de-stress. As you can see both insulin and cortisol work together to keep you fat particularly if you’re stressed and eat poorly. This is why it’s vitally important to eat right, exercise and reduce the stress in your life to get these sneaky hormones on your team.
Leptin and grehlin
Two hormones called leptin and grehlin are important in weight control. Leptin is produced from white adipose tissue and from cells in the stomach. As you eat leptin rises and tells the brain that you are full and you stop eating. However, with conditions such as over eating and obesity leptin levels can become extremely high leading to leptin resistance, a condition much like insulin resistance, where lots of leptin is in the blood but your brain doesn’t respond to it any more. Therefore you don’t feel full and carry on over eating. Increased leptin also causes increased insulin production and can exacerbate insulin resistance, high blood sugar and the accumulation of more fat.
Grehlin on the other hand stimulates hunger, increases food intake and increases fat mass. It is produced in the stomach, the pancreas and hypothalamic arcuate nucleus in the brain. We know from research that inadequate sleep is associated with high levels of grehlin and leads to increased appetite and overeating, thus getting adequate sleep is essential for weight control. So get plenty of sleep and don’t over eat to control leptin and grehlin.
In summary, to offset the downside of these very powerful hormones you need to eat a good mixture of foods from protein, carbohydrate and fat sources. Taking up a good fat burning exercise programme that decreases insulin resistance coupled with good stress reduction measures should allow your body to effectively shed body fat at a safe and sensible rate. If you’re interested in finding out precisely how to do this check out this great online resource from our website: