HORMONE BALANCE: A KEY TO FAT LOSS
by Jack Wheeler, Voted Best Red Deer Personal Trainer 2016 and owner of 360 Fitness, Voted Best Fitness Center 2013 (gold), 2014 (gold), 2015 (silver) and 2016 (gold).
Hormones play a big role in everyday life too and knowledge is power so please read up to understand your body better.
LEPTIN – THE #1 HORMONE FOR FAT LOSS
Leptin is a relatively new hormone that has only come onto the scene in the late 1990’s. It is the king of all hormones and is the most powerful hormone in the human body because it is the commander in chief for the use of energy. No other hormone orders leptin around. When leptin is not working correctly lots of issues can happen: fatigue, depression, irritability, inability to focus, poor metabolism, faulty immune function, problems extracting nutrients from food, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and fat gain.
Leptin is made in fat cells. If leptin is working well then you will have a healthy metabolism and your appetite will be at bay. If leptin is too low you will have a slower metabolism and your appetite will be stimulated. So in theory if someone has a lot of fat stores they should also have a lot of leptin and have a high metabolism and not be hungry BUT quite the opposite is true most of the time as overweight or obese individuals have a slow metabolism and are hungry all the time due to poor leptin management.
Because their brains have become resistance to leptin and therefore thinks leptin is low which slows down their metabolism and increases their appetite (over eating and eating bad foods). Insulin resistance and leptin resistance mean that the hormones don’t communicate efficiently in response to food. Therefore, an overweight person has to overeat in order to get enough leptin and to get a full signal which is a vicious cycle.
WHAT CAUSES INSULIN RESISTANCE & LEPTIN RESISTANCE?
Caloric restriction for too long (several weeks), insulin and blood sugar issues, stress, overeating, increased triglycerides, and chemicals. Whenever insulin is negatively impacted, leptin is negatively impacted as well. And vice versa.
HOW DO WE MANAGE LEPTIN?
Simply put – eat balanced meals, eat protein at every meal, get sleep, reduce stress, don’t overeat and don’t go too long in a big calorie deficit. Really important is stress: if cortisol (stress hormone) is deregulated, you will have blood sugar issues despite a diet low in carbohydrates. Always try to finish a meal when you are 80% full. In the next section, meal timing, we show strategies to manage leptin and other hormones…stay tuned!
HOW DO WE MANAGE INSULIN?
Insulin is the regulator of fat metabolism. It puts calories into fat tissue and it’s insulin that suppresses fat mobilization. In order to get fat off your body you must lower your insulin. The bottom line is when insulin is chronically secreted or chronically elevated (over-eating in general & eating crap foods), fat accumulates. When insulin levels drop, fat escapes from the fat tissue and the fat deposits shrink. We secrete insulin primarily in response to the type of carbohydrates in our diet and overeating. Insulin does not have an on or off switch in our body, it is secreted in either a trace, stream, or flood based on what we eat. We do not want insulin always there – we want to produce, use and then get rid of it for fat loss.
MEAL TIMING FOR BETTER HORMONE BALANCE
Meal timing is key in managing blood sugar and hormones, especially leptin and insulin.
Leptin follows a rough 24-hour pattern where levels are highest in the evening hours and peak late at night. It sets the timing for nighttime repair as well as coordinating the function of melatonin, thyroid hormone, growth hormone, sex hormones, and immune system function to carry out restorative sleep. Leptin will also burn fat at a greater rate at night but only if you allow it to do so. In a person with normal leptin function, the brain gets the signal that they are full and do not require any more food in the evening (before rest). However, those with leptin problems or leptin resistance never get a proper full signal (not until they overeat) and they are driven by subconscious urges to eat from the time dinner is over until the time they go to bed. To reset this, allow three hours between your last meal of the day and the time you go to bed and space your last meal and breakfast out so that there is at least 10-12 hours in between.
Leptin is what gives your body the “full” signal after you eat a meal. In order to avoid leptin issues in the evening you must properly manage leptin and insulin during the day. No matter what you eat you will get some form of insulin response after you eat. Depending on what you eat that response may be a trickle, stream, or flood of insulin. Once insulin has done its job after a meal, only then can your body enter a true fat-burning state. When too much insulin is secreted it shuts off fat-burning mode, and allows triglyceride levels to stay too high for proper leptin function, reducing proper leptin entry into the brain. This can cause excessive food cravings, an unstable energy level, poor brain function, and unproductive sleep. Those with healthy leptin levels will end up burning 60% fatty acids during sleep, the prime fat-burning time. When leptin is managed well, fatty acids will be burned from the triglycerides that are stored in the abdominal area, hips, and thighs. If leptin is poorly managed throughout the day, fatty acids from triglycerides that are piled up too high in the blood will be burned during sleep instead.
About 90 minutes after a regular portioned meal blood sugar levels naturally begin to drop because insulin is done doing its job of transporting calories into cells. So give your body a break by at least 2-3 hrs to give it time to drop.
Now our bodies can use stored calories for energy and the fat burning can begin!
Phewf, that’s a lot! I know I probably missed something or you may need clarification so hit me up in the comments and I will make it happen.
PS – if this is important to you or you want to learn more then we suggest you watch this video we made about hormones and the roles they play on fat loss. Enjoy!