How Hormones Affect Fat Loss
The importance of hormones and their role in the process of fat loss cannot be underestimated. They control pretty much everything we do, from how much we eat to where we store fat on our bodies. It’s not an exaggeration to say that fat loss itself is mainly a hormonal event, rather than an exercise and diet-oriented one. Exercise and diet are the factors that affect our hormones, which in turn determines our success.
If we don’t have the right hormones ordering the body to release the energy in fat cells, we won’t lose weight. In much the same way, if our fat storing hormones are calling the shots we will gain weight without trying. Hormones really are that important.
Unfortunately, our modern high-sugar diets are sending our hormones flying all over the place. What once was a great survival mechanism in times of famine is now making us fat… really fat.
The main hormones that affect our fat loss efforts are:
Ghrelin – produced in the stomach, this hormone works with your brain to tell you when you are hungry. Studies show that even after prolonged calorie restriction our ghrelin levels stay elevated, suggesting that we can never properly adapt to just ‘eating less’. This may be the reason why we find it so difficult to stick to strict diets beyond a certain point.
Leptin – released by fat cells, leptin works with the brain to get you to eat less and burn more calories. The trouble begins when you have too much body-fat and you create a situation called leptin resistance. This is when the brain no longer responds to leptin, leaving you with no ‘off-switch’ on your eating. Many fitness professionals and bodybuilders manipulate their leptin levels through carbohydrate manipulation, allowing them to lose more fat from awkward places. Losing weight is the best way make more leptin more effective.
Insulin – The role of insulin is very important, especially for those want to maintain a healthy body. It is one of the main substances responsible for muscle building, muscle recovery and stable energy levels. When you eat too many carb-laden snacks or foods you release far too much insulin into your body, spiking the level in the bloodstream. This leads to energy crashes and an inability to burn fat. If you eat sugary snacks often you are going to be releasing a lot of insulin into your bloodstream, which might be sabotaging your fitness goals. In order to get your insulin levels under control endeavour to get the majority of your carbohydrates from natural sources, such as cruciferous and starchy vegetables. Limit grains when possible.
Glucagon – This hormones works in the exact opposite direction to insulin. When insulin stores excess carbs as fat, glucagon works to break them down and release them as available energy. For this reason, we want to increase the influence of glucagon. An easy way to do this is to eat high protein, relatively low carbohydrate meals most of the time. Yet another reason to eat well!
In order to manage your hormones effectively you need to minimise insulin spikes, maximise glucagon, increase growth hormone through sleep and exercise, plus decrease cortisol. You can do this by living a well-balanced, low-stress lifestyle, eating a relatively low carbohydrate diet, whilst using aerobic and anaerobic exercise to stay active.
Kelly Rennie – Your Busy Mom Weight Loss Coach
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