In previous articles, we have shared about various hormones like insulin, glucagon, thyroid T3, cortisol, Epinephrine, dopamine, norepinephrine and Serotonin.
We also shared in our articles in terms of what these 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 above articles as well as summary of above articles is presented here for your ease:
Read full articles here:
- Education is the First Step towards Weight Loss, Part-1 of Educational Weight Loss Series
- Education is the First Step towards Weight Loss, Part-2 of Educational Weight Loss Series!
- Education is the First Step towards Weight Loss, Part-3 of Educational Weight Loss Series
Summary of the first article:
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).
Summary of the third article:
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.
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.
Galanin: It’s a Downer
In the evenings, it is crucial to avoid high-glycemic, high-fat foods that can cause another brain chemical to wreak havoc. That chemical is the glanin hormone.
The trouble with galanin is that it’s an antagonist to serotonin. Similar to the way insulin wins out when competing with glucagon, galanin wins out when competing with serotonin. Galanin creates feelings of fatigue, confusion and vulnerability, along with cravings for more high-fat, highly sweetened foods. Worse, it not only turns up the taste for fat, it also affects other hormones in such a way as to virtually ensure that any excess dietary fat gets stored as body fat.
Galanin levels crest in the evening, at the very time many of us eat lots of high-glycemic foods with fat such as chips, high-fat dips, ice cream, doughnuts, cookies or high-fat crackers – galanin drives this dietary fat directly into your body’s fat cells. Some people begin snacking early in the evening, they find they can’t stop. The culprit is galanin.
CCK: A Hormone Against Hunger
Cholecytokinin or CCK is a natural and most powerful anti-hunger hormone. One of its roles is to trigger the release of a host of enzymes from the pancreas that increase the natural absorption of nutrients from your intestines and the natural movement of waste products through the colon.
But CCK has another job of signalling the brain that you are full. Research indicates that a rise in CCK corresponds with reduced food intake. So when CCK is high, you will probably eat less at a single sitting.
Melatonin and Prolactin: The Body Clock Regulators
Good quality sleep is a major ally in the quest for fat burning and energy building. Getting excellent rest – the kind that builds up your reserves for the next day – requires the right balance of hormones. This comes about naturally when the sun sets. When brain shifts your neurochemistry toward sleep by triggering the production and release of the hormone called melatonin (this also has a vital anti-aging effect on the brain and body).
After a steady stretch of at least 3 hours of melatonin production, another neurochemical, prolactin joins the mix. It further strengthens the function of your immune system. A few critical sleep factors, including total darkness, are essential if you want to get the most beneficial mix of melatonin and prolactin.
Calcitrol: The Calcium Beacon
In the absence of enough calcium, levels of the hormone calcitrol increase. Among other changes, calcitrol turns off the mechanisms that break down fat and burn it, and it activates the mechanisms that make more body fat.
Leptin, Agouti, and Ghrelin: Antagonists in the Fight for Fat Loss
One of the best ways to resist unhealthy foods and burn more body fat is to enlist the help of leptin. Inside the brain, leptin’s job is to regulate the intensity of your appetite and to influence the speed at which you body burns calories.
Leptin is produced in abundance by your natural fat cells whenever your metabolism is naturally high and fat loss is necessary. Leptin levels fall whenever the body thinks you need to conserve existing body fat or make extra fat to survive.
Research indicates that high-fat foods suppress leptin and low-fat foods not only increase leptin levels but also boost the hormone’s effectiveness, helping each molecule of leptin to attach to cells and improve fat burning. Some studies have also confirmed that we can increase leptin levels by doing exercises regularly.
Scientists have discovered that leptin acts on certain key brain areas to stimulate the production of antioxidants known as melanocortins. These melanocortins – the same chemicals produced by the skin in response to even brief, safe exposure to sunshine – also suppresses the appetite centers in the brain, aiding metabolism and the loss of excess body fat.
Another hormone, agouti is present in the same parts of the brain as melanocortin and competes with it. Agouti counterbalances melanocortin to keep appetite high when body fat levels drop. With too much agouti and not enough melanocortin, you become hungry and burn less fat.
Whenever you skip a meal, a hormone called ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and triggers a voracious appetite, so you overeat. At the same time, leptin drops to very low levels, slowing your metabolism so that you convert extra calories to body fat and lock-into your fat cells you already have.
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 adiponectin, HGH, estrogen and testosterone 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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