Education is the First Step towards Weight Loss, Part-3 of Educational Weight Loss Series!

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In our last two articles, we shared about two hormones i.e. insulin and glucagon.

We also shared in our articles in terms of what these two hormones do and how it influences our body functions. By knowing all about these hormones and how you can control it, you can start learning on how to manage your body fat and how you can burn it faster.

Quick reference links for both articles as well as summary of both articles is presented here for your ease:

Read full articles here:

Summary of the first article:

Hormones relay information about your body and its needs to the brain and to millions of receptor sites around the body. Those sites in turn send out messages that cause your body to either burn or store fat. In other words, hormones have the power to make your body’s fat stores available as fuel – or to prevent that from happening, instead stimulating more fat storage.

The good news is, you have control over your hormones, perhaps more than you think!

Insulin: The Carb – Control Hormone

One of the most important hormones directly affecting fat-burning or fat-storage is insulin. It is secreted by our pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar levels, most often after a meal or snack. This hormone deposits blood sugar and proteins into muscle tissues so you can move and function well.

The main challenge posed by insulin is its super sensitivity to carbohydrates. It is essentially sensitive to so-called high-glycemic carbs such as refined sugar, flour, potatoes etc. When you eat high-glycemic carbs, your body produces lots of insulin. And when you eat low-glycemic carbs, it has much gentler effect on blood sugar.

Under optimal conditions, your body was designed to produce about three-fourths of its daily energy primarily by burning stored body fat reserves, not sugar. But when insulin and LPL levels are high, they effectively block your body from using stored fat as the main fuel source.

Summary of the second article:

Glucagon: Triggering Fat Release

Glucagon is the hormone that counterbalances insulin. Where insulin production is stimulated by carbohydrates, glucagon production is stimulated by proteins. While insulin works to make sure blood sugar levels don’t get too high, glucagon works to make sure they don’t fall too low which can happen when you skip meals.

Insulin sets you up for fat gain through its partnership with LPL. Glucagon is dedicated to triggering the release of stored fat from fat cells by producing an enzyme known as hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).

Thyroid T3: The Thermostat Setter

The thyroid gland controls the rate at which your metabolism hums along and body fat is burned. Tri-iodothyronine or popularly known as T3, is by far the most active of the thyroid hormones.

One of the ways the body synthesizes T3 is from an enzyme called 5-deiodinanse. This process requires the mineral selenium. Many North-Americans are not getting enough selenium in their diets, which may be hampering their ability to produce the thyroid hormones that help burn off excess fat.

Cortisol and Epinephrine: Partners in Stress

If you handle pressure well, your metabolism can stay high and with it your fat burning power. But if you let stress overpower you, you may start seeing the signs of chronic anger, frustration, guilt, and worry which are all fattening.

The body responds to stressful conditions by releasing a cascade of hormones from the adrenal glands. The most powerful of these hormones are epinephrine (which we used to call adrenaline) and cortisol. Both are designed to give you a quick burst of energy to fight or flee. Epinephrine puts the body’s systems on full alert. Cortisol breaks down dietary proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into blood sugar for immediate availability to the brain, muscles and senses.

But here is a challenge – If you don’t have enough readily available protein in the bloodstream from your recent meal, cortisol extracts it from your your healthy muscle tissue. Each time this happens, the stress reaction robs you of healthy muscle tissue that is supposed to be giving you energy and burning excess body fat. This is one of the major problems with many diets. You gain back weight because you’ve lost a vital part of your body’s fat-burning power.

Mismanaged stress also depletes your reserves of a number of key brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

Dopamine and Norepinephrine: The Alertness Boosters

In the brain, messages are sent from cell to cell by way of electrical impulses and chemicals called neurotransmitters. A number of the neurotransmitters are manufactured in the brain from components of the foods you eat.

Dopamine and norepinephrine are two of the key alertness neurotransmitters. They immediately increase your level of attentiveness. At the same time, they rev up fat burning and give you a heightened sense of energy and motivations. They help you manage stress and make big problems feel more manageable.

Certain amino acids enable the brain to make these neurotransmitters. The principal ingredient in dopamine and norepinephrine is the amino acid tyrosine. Many high quality protein foods like fish, shellfish, skinless chicken or turkey, low-fat dairy products, dried beans, lentils and soy makes tyrosine available to your brain.

Serotonin: The Mood Connection

Serotonin is one of the brain’s primary mood chemicals. It influences your sleep patterns, hunger, anxiety levels, and temperature regulation. When your brain lacks serotonin, you are likely to become more anxious and you may be unable to sleep. It also impacts your appetite.

Unfortunately, one of the simplest ways to keep serotonin levels high is to consume high-glycemic carbohydrates, which you may know are fatiguing and fattening. On top of this, once you eat high-glycemic carbs, it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to send the satiety signal (I’m full). So you keep eating those empty-calorie foods that raise insulin levels and create even more cravings for sweet, refined foods.

Luckily there is a better way to naturally raise serotonin levels. The amino acid tryptophan is essential for the manufacture of serotonin. When you eat enough low-glycemic carbohydrates, a greater supply of tryptophan gets transported to the brain, where it generates serotonin. Foods naturally high in tryptophan can also help. These include low-fat or fat-free milk, turkey or chicken breast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, soy, whey protein and even bananas.

Source Credit: This article is taken from Flip the Switch, Lose the Weight Book by Robert K. Cooper

In the next article in this series of “Education is the First Step towards Weight Loss”, we will share about the Galanin, CCK, Melatonin and Prolactin hormone.

Since education is the key towards successful weight loss, please do share this article with your friends so that they too get the benefit of this education!

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