Hormones And Fat Loss – Part 1 with Keith Spennewyn
Learn about the 2 key hormones for regulating food intake and energy balance with your clients.
Let’s talk about hormones for a moment. Hormones are chemical messengers that are created in a handful (literally) of endocrine organs in your body. They control your body’s functions. One of those functions is whether to burn fat or store fat. Got your attention now?
2 Key Hormones Regulating Food Intake & Energy Balance
Fat loss is a little more complicated then eating less and moving more. Perhaps that’s why so many diets fail. All they do is reduce calories under the assumption that eating less throws the caloric calorie counter into a deposit. Sounds logical, but way more complicated than that.
It is true that eating less causes you to lose weight, but only in the short term. You see your hormones control your appetite too. They tell you when to eat and when you don’t need food. And when you lower your caloric intake too low, their influence is far more powerful than any will-power you may have.
So, when it comes to your body “deciding” what state to be in, there are two key hormones that regulate food intake and energy balance: the adipocyte (fat cell) hormone called leptin and the pancreatic hormone called insulin.
While there are many other hormone players with complex interactions between them, understanding these two hormones will give you important insight into how your diet and lifestyle choices can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
You may have thought that the hormone insulin was just something to worry about for diabetics. However, insulin, which is released by the pancreas in response to increased blood sugar, facilitates the transport of glucose into the cells of your body and signals to the liver to convert glucose into glycogen for storage.
It’s true that the diabetics insulin regulation system has become dysfunctional. That is, it is unable to perform the duties it should perform in order to maintain your blood glucose levels. But did you also realize that when glycogen stores are maxed out (as when you eat a high carbohydrate diet), increased insulin levels stimulate conversion of glucose into triglycerides (blood fat) for long-term storage in adipocytes (fat cells). In addition to this vital function, insulin has an additional role. It actually signals the brain to eat more by influencing the levels of your hunger hormone, ghrelin. Simply stated, insulin tells the brain whether you should eat or not.
Most people understand the reason the pancreas secretes more insulin. It is due to increasing blood sugar levels. Obviously, blood sugar levels are increased when we eat candy and ice cream, but they are also increased by processed carbohydrates. The response is almost immediate. We eat a doughnut (for instance), blood sugar levels immediately increase. The pancreas monitors these blood sugar levels and release insulin which force the cell to uptake the blood sugar in order to keep those levels in proportion.
This is not a delayed response. The moment sugar hits your tongue, the body flies into immediate action.
Circulating insulin can enter the brain where it binds to receptors in the hypothalamus region. This region of the brain governs physiologic functions such as temperature, thirst, sleep, mood, sex drive and hunger. Although the exact pathways are unknown, it is well understood that certain interactions reduce your hunger (increased sugar in the blood), and certain mechanisms increase your hunger (lower blood sugar levels and increased insulin levels).
More Body Fat = More Insulin Secretion
Here’s what’s interesting about this. The more body fat you have, the more insulin you tend to secrete, both at a physiological level (homeostasis) and as a result of eating. However, there is a maximum amount of insulin that can cross into the brain to stimulate satiety. When insulin (in the blood) increase beyond this level, no further signaling to the brain occurs. In essence, insulin resistance occurs when more insulin is needed than is usually required to maintain normal levels of blood sugars, and/or when there is a decrease in insulin receptors in the brain, meaning that the high levels of circulating insulin cannot do what it is supposed to do for blood sugars. This includes decreasing appetite. Enter on the scene, leptin.
But that’s for another article.
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