- Ask Leyla: What is the relationship between hormones and weight loss?
6 hormones that influence weight loss in women
- Testosterone and Oestrogen
- Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and a functional medicine practitioner. For further information, email [email protected] The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
- Study identifies a hormone that may hinder weight loss
- Hormones and weight loss
- Where are the GH receptors?
- Blocking growth hormone
- How Fat Cells Work
- Major fat-burning discovery
- Harvard researchers discover a hormone released by exercise.
- 15 Foods That Switch On Your Fat-Burning Hormones
- Red Wine
- “Mixed” Meals
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Healthy Fats
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Low- or No-Sugar Foods
- Cottage Cheese and Nuts
- Cellular Carbs
- Natural Whole Proteins
- Pro and Pre-Biotics
- 1. Adiponectin
- 2. Grehlin
- 3. Insulin
- 4. Leptin
- 5. Cortisol
- 1) Great Hydration
- 2) Healthy Diet
- 3) Regular Movement
- 4) Good Sleep
- 5) Reduce Stress
- Fat Burning Hormones Bonus Strategy
- Sources for this Article Include:
- 1. MacLean CR, et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice. Physchoneuroendocrinology. 1997 May; 22(4): 277-95. PMID: 9226731
- 2. National Sleep Foundation: Annuel Sleep in America Poll Exploring Connections With Communications Technology Use and Sleep.
- 5. Apolinar, LM, et al. Role of prenatal undernutrition in the expression of serotonin, dopamine and leptin receptors in adult mice: Implications of food intake. Mol Med Rep. 2014 Feb; 9(2): 407-412. PMCID: 24337628
- 7. Panossian A, and Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Sep; 4(3): 198-219. PMID: 19500070
- 8. Bremner JD. Traumatic stress: effects on the brain.Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2006; 8(4):445-461. PMCID: 3181836
- 10. Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, Hydration and Health.Nutrition reviews. 2010; 68(8):439-458. 2908954
- 11. Bossingham MJ, Carnell NS, Campbell WW. Water balance, hydration status, and fat-free mass hydration in younger and older adults.The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2005; 81(6):1342-1350. 2495085
- 12. Reichrath J, et al. Vitamins as Hormones. Horm Metab Res. 207 Feb; 39(2): 71-84. PMID: 17326003
- 13. Meier U, and Gressner AM. Endocrine Regulation of Energy Metabolism: review of Pathobiochemical and Clinical Chemical Aspects of Leptin, Ghrelin, Adiponectin, and Resistin. Clin Chem. 2004 Aug; 50(9). DOI: 1373/clinchem.2004.032482
- 16. Hewagalamulage SD, et al. High cortisol response to adrenocorticotrophic hormone identifies ewes with reduced melanocortin signaling and increased propensity to obesity. J Neuroendocrinol. 2015 Jan; 27(1): 44-56. PMID: 25315658
- 18. Wilcox G. Insulin and Insulin Resistance. Clinical Biochemist Reviews. 2005; 26(2): 19-39. PMCID: 1204764
- How to activate fat burning hormones in 4 simple steps
- What Is the Leptin Hormone?
- How to Make Leptin, Your Starvation Hormone, Work for You
- You and Your Hormones
- Alternative names for leptin
- What is leptin?
- How is leptin controlled?
- What happens if I have too much leptin?
- What happens if I have too little leptin?
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
- Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF)
Ask Leyla: What is the relationship between hormones and weight loss?
January 24, 2019 | By Leyla Muedin MS, RD, CDN
Q: One of the weight loss systems advertised on radio claims that you have to balance hormones in order to lose weight. What exactly does this mean?
Which hormones are involved the most in weight loss (or gain), and how can I keep them in balance?
A: While I’m not a fan of commercial weight loss diets, and neither, I might add, is Dr. Hoffman, here’s the lowdown on the role of hormones in weight loss.
Having a proper balance of hormones is critical to good health and a prerequisite for weight loss. First and foremost is the hormone insulin.
Hyperinsulinism is a primary cause of weight gain or inability to lose weight. Too much insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to increasing blood sugar from a carbohydrate rich diet (sugars and other refined carbohydrates). Because insulin is a fat storage hormone, it will keep your metabolism in chronic fat storage mode.
Next is cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is secreted not just when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, but when we’re not getting enough sleep, or taking in too much caffeine or other stimulants. Cortisol contributes to abdominal obesity and accelerates the aging process, including thinning skin and bones.
Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells which sends the message to our brain to stop eating, the message being, “we have enough stored reserves.” But the message leptin sends gets muddled when consuming a diet high in sugar, causing leptin resistance. Overweight and obesity is a hallmark of leptin resistance. And the fat storage continues since insulin is still hanging around thanks to all those carbs.
Ghrelin is a hunger hormone secreted primarily in the stomach. It is released when the stomach is empty, signaling the brain that it’s time to eat. Secretion of this important hormone ceases once the stomach is full. Ghrelin is also produced during times of stress—like staying up too late and not getting enough sleep. This may be a primary reason sleep deprivation increases cravings for carbs. Add cortisol to the equation and voila—belly fat!
Estrogen dominance has become more prevalent with exposure to all the toxic xenoestrogens in the environment. Plastics, bisphenol A, phthalates and parabens are just a few examples of “gender benders” causing endocrine disruption in not just women, but men too. Excess belly fat is also a source of estrogen which aromatizes any circulating testosterone, turning it into more estrogen, causing diminishing muscle tone and gynecomastia (breast development) in men.
An underactive thyroid is a common and independent cause of weight loss resistance because thyroid hormones literally run the show on metabolism. Weight gain is a classic symptom of this condition. You can read more about hypothyroidism here.
To your health!
As you may know, I’ve been doing a weekly “Q&A with Leyla” podcast feature with Dr. Hoffman. Now you can get my perspective and expertise every Friday on my own episode of the Intelligent Medicine Podcast. If you missed last week’s, you can listen here. To be sure you don’t miss out on any of my important insights and information, subscribe today!
6 hormones that influence weight loss in women
Combined with a healthy diet, taking steps to ensure that your body has sufficient amounts of these hormones can help take stubborn weight off and keep it off.
In general, public discussions about weight loss tend to focus mainly on exercise and diet. When someone thinks, “I need to lose weight!”, they immediately think up an action plan that involves fitness activities like going running or signing up for the gym.
Some will take an additional step by hiring a personal trainer. This is a great choice as a good personal trainer can really motivate you to stay on track. They will usually stress on the importance of healthy eating and help track your food habits, as that is another key part of a weight loss programme.
But what these fitness regiments omit, is that your hormones can play a very key role in your weight loss success. Our body produces 50 different types of hormones, some of which regulate nutritional intake, metabolism and other functions that relate to weight gain and loss.
Hence, no matter if you are executing your fitness regiment perfectly, if you are experiencing hormonal imbalance, it will inevitably hamper your progress. Let’s take a closer look at the five main types of hormones that most affect weight issues and what you can do to correct any imbalances.
We all require insulin to process the sugars from our food – whether they are added sugar or naturally occurring sugar – and convert them into energy. When we consume carbohydrates, our blood sugar level rises accordingly, due to the sugars in carbohydrates like bread, pasta, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.
High carb foods like bread and pasta cause a bigger spike, whilst lower carb foods like most vegetables and some fruits cause smaller rises in blood sugar levels. Someone without hormonal complications will not experience any insulin issues.
However, insulin deficiency causes a chronic problem that we know as diabetes, where the sugar in your bloodstream is not being converted into energy and sent to other parts of the body.
Conversely, diabetes patients can also become insulin-resistant, which means that although you may be receiving insulin, not only do you have sugar buildup, but an insulin buildup as well. Both situations create other problems, and one of these is weight gain.
Action plan: What you need to do is to take measures to increase insulin sensitivity. In recent years, research and experimentation has found that one of the most effective ways to do that is by practising a diet that is low in carbs, whether you are diabetic or not.
Consult with a nutritionist if you are unsure of how to create an effective diet plan. Taking supplements containing chromium, R lipoic acid and magnesium may also be useful in glucose control and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
The hormone ghrelin influences how energetic you feel at any moment, so a disruption in its levels might mean you constantly feel too tired to exercise or do any other physical activity. Photo: 123rf.com
One of the roles of leptin in our body is to act like a hunger suppressant, signalling to our body when we are full and to stop eating. Weight loss not only depends on an individual to make good choices with food, but you also need to practice portion control.
When leptin is deficient or impaired in your body, hunger signals are not being transmitted correctly. In fact, considering that many obesity patients have been found to be lacking in, or resistant to, the leptin hormone, indicates how important this hormone is in weight control.
It’s not really clear what causes leptin impairment. Genetics plays a role, as well as inflammation in the body due to lifestyle factors like stress, poor diet, not enough physical activity, inadequate sleep and more.
Action plan: Eliminate threats from your lifestyle by being mindful of things that affect your overall health. Get enough sleep and take up hobbies that will get you moving.
Above all, change your diet to one that cuts out processed foods and sugars that promote inflammation. A protein-rich diet keeps you full for longer and may improve your body’s response to leptin.
Increase your omega-3 fatty acid consumption either through supplements or by eating more foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines. Omega-3 can help increase leptin levels by supporting a healthy inflammatory response, which is the main reason leptin resistance develops.
The ghrelin hormone is the opposite of leptin, transmitting the message that your stomach is empty and that you need to eat a meal. Apart from signalling hunger pangs, ghrelin regulates energy resources, hence influencing how energetic you might be at any given moment.
This is connected to obesity problems because a lack of energy is demotivating and won’t inspire you to regularly attend workout sessions at the gym, leaving you largely sedentary, which doesn’t promote weight loss.
Ghrelin seems to be associated with our sleep cycle, producing the most quantities when we are asleep. Feeling hungry the moment you wake up is a good thing, as it’s an indicator that your ghrelin signals are working as they should.
Action plan: Just like with leptin, improving lifestyle habits like eating better food, increased movement and quality rest can help improve ghrelin function. In this case, sticking to a sleep schedule that optimises your circadian rhythm would be very beneficial to ghrelin production.
Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and sugar-sweetened drinks, which can impair ghrelin response after meals. Eating protein at every meal, especially breakfast, can reduce ghrelin levels and promote satiety.
Taking some time away from your hectic schedule to rest and play with your pet is a good way to decrease your cortisol levels, which can cause overeating if too high. Photo: Bloomberg
This hormone is produced in the adrenal glands to help with protein breakdown for increased energy. Many situations cause the release of cortisol, such as physical injuries, daily stress (over work, relationships, finances, etc), and even activities like lifting weights and cardio workouts.
The elevated levels of this stress hormone during tension-filled times can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of cortisol also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.
In all of these situations, your blood pressure and blood sugar levels also rise as part of the fight-or-flight response system, which is critical in emergency situations.
But elevated cortisol levels that persist long term, disrupts the immune system and the production of other hormones, cause sleepless nights and stores fat in your belly area.
Action plan: It’s a given that a healthy diet should be part of everyone’s daily lives, but to promote healthy cortisol production, you need to counter the things that stress you out with activities that will help your mind to relax and think more positively.
Go for a massage, schedule short getaways that include your favourite activities, or immerse yourself in something that you will enjoy learning about. This gives both mind and body time to rest, and help keep that cortisol production from spiralling out of control.
Having fun and laughing, keeping a pet, taking up a hobby or taking supplements like omega-3 fish oils and ashwagandha may lower cortisol levels. Avoid caffeine at night and pay attention to the amount and quality of your sleep, including trying to limit the chance of disruptions.
Testosterone and Oestrogen
Although testosterone is predominantly a male hormone, it is important for women as well. Testosterone regulates sexual function and metabolism, promotes bone density and follicle growth, and synthesises protein to build muscle.
When testosterone levels in women take a nosedive, so do metabolism, energy levels and muscle mass. As a result, you burn fewer calories and belly fat gets stored. Stress, and even age, are some of the factors that contribute to the drop in testosterone.
Similarly, oestrogen, the female sex hormone that develops a woman’s reproductive system, can also contribute to weight changes. When women enter the peri-menopause stage, oestrogen levels wane and weight gain is often cited as a side effect of that transition.
Action plan: The loss of testosterone and oestrogen is unavoidable as we age, hence many choose to go for hormone replacement therapy. Now would also be the right time to start strength-training workouts to maintain muscle mass and avoid rapid weight gain.
Most of us would be unsure of how to start on either, so consult your doctor for information on bioidentical hormone therapy to overcome the biological factors of weight gain and seek fitness advice from your gym’s personal trainers, to get you on the right track.
Study identifies a hormone that may hinder weight loss
A series of experiments in mice demonstrates that a well-known hormone might have a previously unidentified role in the metabolic response to energy restriction during weight loss.
Share on PinterestA recent study finds a new role for an old hormone.
Scientists have known about growth hormone (GH) for several decades. It plays a role in bone growth and is particularly important as our bodies grow.
It also helps maintain organs and tissues as we go through our adult lives.
However, researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil have found an entirely new and unexpected role for GH: It appears to play a part in energy conservation during weight loss.
José Donato Junior and his team published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
When an animal’s food intake becomes restricted, its body responds by conserving energy.
This mechanism is important because, in the wild, if an animal is having difficulty finding food, the body needs to save as much energy as possible.
However, this is part of the reason why it is incredibly difficult to prevent weight from returning after dieting. For many years, researchers have tried to zero in on why this might be the case.
Hormones and weight loss
Scientists already know that a hormone called leptin plays a part in the body’s response to weight loss. Fat cells produce leptin, which inhibits hunger. When we lose weight, levels of leptin in the bloodstream drop, making us more likely to feel hungry.
Some people can develop leptin resistance, which means that they no longer respond to the hormone and, consequently, feel hungry more often.
As Donato explains, “Leptin has hitherto been considered the main hormone that acts to conserve energy when we’re hungry.”
However, despite scientists’ growing understanding of leptin, it has not led to any successful weight-loss interventions. The most recent study asks whether GH might be one of the missing pieces of the puzzle.
“GH receptors are found in large quantities in muscle and tissue, in the liver, and in organs directly involved in growth metabolism,” says Donato, “but we found that the brain is also full of GH receptors. This is entirely new.”
The scientists demonstrated that leptin levels decrease in response to a restriction in caloric intake, while levels of GH increase.
Where are the GH receptors?
The scientists found an abundance of GH receptors in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus regulates the autonomic nervous system, which is the arm of the nervous system that controls automatic functions, such as breathing and digestion.
The hypothalamus also plays an important role in controlling energy homeostasis — the regulation of energy expenditure and food intake.
In the hypothalamus, a small collection of neurons produce agouti-related protein (AgRP). When these neurons release AgRP into the body, appetite increases, and the body holds onto its energy stores more tightly.
The scientists found that GH receptors in the hypothalamus activate these neurons, triggering the release of AgRP.
To understand what influence GH might be having on AgRP neurons, the researchers genetically engineered a strain of mice that lacked the AgRP-specific GH receptor (AgRP GHR KO mice).
In a series of experiments, the scientists deprived mice of food and assessed their energy expenditure.
The control mice, which still had the GH receptor, responded to restricted food intake as expected by reducing their energy expenditure.
However, in the AgRP GHR KO mice, the drop in energy expenditure was much less pronounced. Consequently, these mice lost more weight over the course of the study. The loss of energy-dense fatty tissue accounted for most of this weight decrease, but there was also some loss of lean mass, which includes muscle, bone, organs, tendons, and fluids.
Blocking growth hormone
In a separate experiment, the researchers used mice that they had not engineered to lack the GH receptor. This time, they used a drug called pegvisomant that blocks GH receptors instead.
Once again, with food deprivation, the energy expenditure of these mice decreased significantly less than it did in mice that had not received pegvisomant.
“GH is not only involved in growth metabolism but, above all, influences the metabolic responses that conserve energy when we’re hungry or on a diet,” concludes Donato.
“In other words, we discovered that weight loss triggers an increase in hypothalamus GH levels, which activates the AgRP neurons, making weight loss harder and intensifying the sense of hunger. That’s precisely the same function leptin performs.”
Lead author José Donato Junior
The authors conclude that GH does not appear to play a significant role in energy balance when the animals have adequate access to food. Instead, it “signals energy deficiency to the brain, triggering neuroendocrine responses to conserve body energy stores.”
Donato explains that because conserving energy is so important for survival, animals appear to have evolved two separate systems.
The authors also hypothesize that this might be why weight-loss interventions based solely on leptin are ineffective — they are only addressing part of the mechanism.
In the future, the authors believe that compounds that target GH receptors could “represent a promising approach to facilitate weight loss and improve the efficacy of obesity treatments.”
How Fat Cells Work
When you are not eating, your body is not absorbing food. If your body is not absorbing food, there is little insulin in the blood. However, your body is always using energy; and if you’re not absorbing food, this energy must come from internal stores of complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Under these conditions, various organs in your body secrete hormones:
- pancreas – glucagon
- pituitary gland – growth hormone
- pituitary gland – ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone)
- adrenal gland – epinephrine (adrenaline)
- thyroid gland – thyroid hormone
These hormones act on cells of the liver, muscle and fat tissue, and have the opposite effects of insulin.
When you are not eating, or you are exercising, your body must draw on its internal energy stores. Your body’s prime source of energy is glucose. In fact, some cells in your body, such as brain cells, can get energy only from glucose.
The first line of defense in maintaining energy is to break down carbohydrates, or glycogen, into simple glucose molecules — this process is called glycogenolysis. Next, your body breaks down fats into glycerol and fatty acids in the process of lipolysis. The fatty acids can then be broken down directly to get energy, or can be used to make glucose through a multi-step process called gluconeogenesis. In gluconeogenesis, amino acids can also be used to make glucose.
In the fat cell, other types of lipases work to break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol. These lipases are activated by various hormones, such as glucagon, epinephrine and growth hormone. The resulting glycerol and fatty acids are released into the blood, and travel to the liver through the bloodstream. Once in the liver, the glycerol and fatty acids can be either further broken down or used to make glucose.
Losing Weight and Losing Fat
Your weight is determined by the rate at which you store energy from the food that you eat, and the rate at which you use that energy. Remember that as your body breaks down fat, the number of fat cells remains the same; each fat cell simply gets smaller.
Most experts agree that the way to maintain a healthy weight is:
- Eat a balanced diet – appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, fat and protein
- Do not eat excessively – for most people, a diet of 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day is sufficient to maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
Major fat-burning discovery
Harvard researchers discover a hormone released by exercise.
Published: June, 2012
When you’re taking a brisk walk on a beautiful day, what are you thinking about? The sun, the breeze, how good it feels to loosen up the stiff parts. The last thing you’re thinking about as you pick up the pace is what’s happening to your body chemistry.
When you exercise, your body chemistry changes in ways that we only now are coming to understand. Over the past 20 years, scientists have identified natural molecules in all of us that influence our appetite and our metabolism—and, hence, our weight. Now, researchers at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere are identifying the molecules that not only affect our weight, but also cause other health benefits of exercise.
“Our muscle cells need a source of energy when they exercise,” says Dr. Anthony Komaroff, a professor at Harvard Medical School. “Muscles get that energy by burning fat and sugar brought to them by the blood. That’s been known for nearly a century. However, it’s not the whole story. “
The hormone irisin
In January 2012, a research team led by Dr. Bruce Spiegelman, a Harvard Medical School professor, published a new study in the journal Nature. The study was done in mice, but may well apply to humans. The study showed that exercising muscle produces a hormone called irisin.
“Irisin travels throughout the body in the blood, and alters fat cells,” explains Dr. Komaroff. “Body fat is stored inside fat cells. Most of these fat cells are called white fat cells, and their function is to store fat.”
White fat vs. brown fat
Why do we store fat? When we eat more calories than we burn by exercise, the extra calories have to go somewhere. They’re stored partly as fat. Our distant ancestors didn’t eat as regularly as we do. Forty thousand years ago on the Serengeti, our ancestors were able to get a serious meal only a few times each week. In between meals, they needed some source of energy. A large part of it came from the fat they stored away after a meal.
In 2009, studies from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere discovered that humans have not only white fat cells but also brown fat cells.
“Brown fat cells don’t store fat: they burn fat. If your goal is to lose weight, you want to increase the number of your brown fat cells and to decrease your white fat cells,” says Dr. Komaroff.
Irisin does that, at least in mice. And those newly-created brown fat cells keep burning calories after exercise is over. But it gets better.
Irisin’s other effects
We’ve known for some time that a regular program of moderate exercise protects us against type 2 diabetes. For example, a lifestyle program that included regular moderate exercise reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%—more than any medicine yet invented. How does that happen? Irisin may be an important part of the answer. In addition to its effect in creating brown fat cells, it also helps prevent or overcome insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
Although Dr. Spiegelman did his studies in mice, he found that humans have irisin, too. While not yet proven, it is very likely that irisin has similar effects in humans.
“Studies like these are just plain interesting, in and of themselves,” says Dr. Komaroff. “They help us to understand better how our body works. However, the discovery of irisin also could have some very practical and beneficial applications. Theoretically, irisin could become a treatment to help us maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of diabetes.”
Yes, other medicines with a similar promise have come and gone. However, irisin is not an unnatural pharmaceutical. Rather, it’s part of our natural body chemistry. That may make it more potent and less likely to have adverse effects. So there is justifiable excitement about the discovery of irisin, and about the speed with which science is discovering the chemistry of exercise, appetite, metabolic rate and body weight.
However, our environment, and its effect on our own behavior, plays a huge role in determining how much we exercise and how much we eat, and therefore how much we weigh.
“We don’t have to wait for a magic potion,” says Dr. Komaroff. “We already have a proven treatment that profoundly protects our health: exercise.”
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
We’ve all been through the cold, dark days of winter and noticed that we’ve started to fatten up a bit. Most of us attribute that winter weight gain to the frequent holiday feasts—or the bitter cold that keeps a lot of people bundled up indoors, perched squarely in front of the TV.
But winter weight gain might have another culprit: lack of sun.
That’s because the sun’s blue light can shrink fat cells near the skin’s surface, according to a new study from Canada’s University of Alberta.
“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths—the light we can see with our eye—penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat,” said study senior author Peter Light, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology and the director of UAlberta’s Alberta Diabetes Institute. “If you flip our findings around, the insufficient sunlight exposure we get eight months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”
We imagine lots of Canadians—and plenty of other people in cold climates—can relate.
Researchers stumbled upon the revelation when they were trying to help patients with Type-1 diabetes by creating fat cells that could be coaxed into making insulin when exposed to light. They discovered that regular fat cells respond to light using the same “molecular trail” activated when blue light hits our eyes; that chemical trigger helps regulate our circadian rhythms and the sleep/wake cycle. The researchers speculate that the process in fat cells may be related to evolution and surviving colder climates since in humans the fat is spread fairly evenly underneath the skin, distinct from most mammals.
If you’ve noticed a little bit of winter weight creeping around your waistline, try this heart-racing workout to warm up when it’s freezing outside.
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15 Foods That Switch On Your Fat-Burning Hormones
“I can’t take it anymore!” said a coworker’s mom the other day, while visiting the Eat This, Not That! offices. She was having thyroid trouble. “It’s my hormones—they’re making me crazy, and I’ve gained 10 pounds to boot.” She turned to our research team: “What am I supposed to do?”
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” we told her. “Feed it.”
You see, your hormones have a pretty important job when it comes to keeping your body and mind running at an optimal level. Think of them as the chemical “messengers” that tell your body what to do. For instance, “your thyroid hormones tell your body how to regulate your metabolism,” explains Dr. Rob Silverman, author of Inside Out Health. “And insulin, a hormone produced in your pancreas, regulates your use of blood sugar.
“Meanwhile, your sex organs produce estrogen (for women) and testosterone (for men). And your adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol.”
With so many important functions, if your hormones are out of balance, you’ll be, too. “If you can’t produce enough insulin, for example, you get diabetes,” says Dr. Silverman. “If you can’t produce enough thyroid hormones, you gain weight and feel very tired and cold all the time. When you make too much cortisol, you feel stressed and anxious and prevent rapid weight loss,” explains Dr. Silverman.
The surefire way to keep your hormones balanced is to eat foods that are filled with nutrients that support healthy hormone production. So our team developed this essential list—for men and women. Incorporate them into your regular diet for peak results, and bookmark these 25 Best Foods for Menopause for if you are getting a bit more mature!
The next time you’re out to dinner, don’t hesitate to say YES to that glass of red wine! “It contains resveratrol, a highly anti-inflammatory polyphenol whose benefits, like healthy hormone production, come from its estrogenic properties,” explains Blawnde founder and holistic health coach, Annie Lawless. Cheers to that!
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Enjoy two glasses a week—and find out The Healthiest Red Wines—And Which Ones to Buy!
Flaxseeds contain lignans, which are phytoestrogens that can help regulate estrogen levels in men and women. But another major benefit according to Dr. Silverman? “They help to prevent breast and prostate cancers.”
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: One to two grams daily. Sprinkle some into oatmeal, a breakfast bowl, bake into bread or blend into a smoothie. For other sneaky ways to melt fat fast, don’t miss these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried.
When you’re stressed, your body becomes completely out of whack—especially because it increases the production of the hormone cortisol, which is produced within the adrenal gland. You know the idea of “fight or flight” responses to stressors? Cortisol can dull the body’s immune responses. “Our busy culture keeps our bodies concentrated in cortisol, which can lead to the development of chronic stress and serious complications in the long run,” explains Lisa Mikus, RD, CNSC, CDN. “For example, elevated cortisol levels are associated with elevated blood glucose levels. When glucose levels are elevated for often and for prolonged periods of time, metabolic irregularities can occur like insulin resistance. These hormonal imbalances including elevated levels of cortisol, glucose, and the increased need for insulin, can lead to central abdominal obesity as and metabolic disturbances like diabetes.”
So how do you combat that? By eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day in order to help stay emotionally regulated and decrease the risk of a cortisol spike. “A mixed meal includes whole grains and/or high fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats,” says Mikus. “Consuming these macronutrients together at meals keeps you satiated for longer and helps lessen the chance of blood sugar spikes.”
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: It’s important to have balanced meals and snacks throughout the day in order to stay emotionally regulated and decrease the risk of a cortisol spike. “A mixed meal includes whole grains and/or high fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, and heart healthy fats. Consuming these macronutrients together at meals keeps you satiated for longer and helps lessen the chance of blood sugar spikes,” says Mikus. “Try this mixed meal to help keep your cortisol levels in check: 4 oz of grilled, wild-caught salmon with 1/3 cup farro and 1 cup of mushrooms and spinach sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp minced garlic.”
Men shouldn’t hesitate to snack on these tasty seeds as they’re rich in zinc which Lawless says is a mineral that helps boost testosterone production in the body.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Have 1/4 cup per week. For other healthy body hacks, read on the these 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat.
Vitamin D is a very common deficiency amongst Americans, and having an inadequate level of vitamin D is directly linked to hormonal imbalances. To combat that? Help yourself to some shrimp. “Shrimp is a great way to boost your vitamin D levels and in turn, promote hormone health,” explains Lawless.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Incorporate 5-7 medium shrimp per week into your diet
“There are many different hormones doing many different jobs throughout the body. It is an intricate system that operates based on many factors, both internal and external. But one of the things many of these hormones have in common is fat,” says Andrew James Pierce of Sugarchecked. “Dietary fat is used by the body to synthesize hormones, particularly sex hormones. So a nutrition plan that does not include adequate fat intake can interfere with hormonal balance.
“On the flip side,” he continues, “excess fat in the diet, especially the unhealthy kind (think fried foods and trans fat), can also throw hormones out of balance.” So what are the fats you should opt for? Healthy and essential fats, like those found in olive oil, egg yolks, avocados, nuts, seeds and fatty fish like salmon. All of those will promote optional hormonal function.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Approximately 30% of total daily calories should come from healthy sources of fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s about 65g of fat. For the very best full-fat fat burners, check out The 20 Best Full-Fat Foods for Weight Loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV helps your body to convert the proteins found in foods into usable amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for many different bodily processes, including the creation of your hormones. So, in drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar you’re actually giving your body what it needs to make hormones—addressing any imbalances between estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Incorporate 2 tablespoons into your diet per dayp; these 8 Awesome Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drinks are a good place to start.
The cinnamaldehyde, an organic compound, in cinnamon can help balance hormones in women by lowering the amount of testosterone produced by women, while increasing the amount of progesterone. FYI, just sprinkling cinnamon on your food isn’t going to provide you with all the benefits it offers. You’ll need to take it as a supplement.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: 2 to 4 grams per day
Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale all contain a phytonutrient called indole-3-carbinol. Dr. Silverman explains this is very important as indole-3-carbinol blocks the action of an estrogen metabolite that is linked to estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Eat two full cups on a daily basis. And don’t stop there—melt even more fat using these 50 Best Weight Loss Tips—Ever!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of a group of hormones called eicosanoids, which have short-lived, local effects in the body. “Your body uses eicosanoids to deal with inflammation. If you don’t have enough of these essential fatty acids in your diet, you won’t be able to produce eicosanoids efficiently,” says Dr. Silverman. “Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon and tuna, flaxseeds, dark-green leafy vegetables, chia seeds, walnuts, and eggs. Fish oil supplements are a good way to be sure you’re getting enough.”
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Have 250 mg to 1000 mg daily
Low- or No-Sugar Foods
Avoid sugary foods and drinks—beware of seemingly healthy foods like smoothies that could actually be loaded down with extra sugar. “Keep sugar found within natural foods, like eating a whole apple, or a piece of watermelon, rather than having it processed in a drink or dessert,” suggests Denzel. “This will keep your blood sugar levels stable, and stable blood sugar means stable hormone levels.”
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Choose fruit instead of cakes and ice cream for dessert, and also as a midday snack. Aim for about two servings of fruit per day. And drink tea instead of juice. Editors at Eat This, Not That! found test panelists on the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
Cottage Cheese and Nuts
Sleep is the root of all good—and evil. Get enough and you’re on the right track for good health. Don’t get enough and everything is at risk for getting out of whack. “When you are sleep deprived, cortisol which should rise and fall within certain ranges, gets on a different rhythm and starts to literally ‘steal’ the building blocks of hormones like estrogen and progesterone,” explains Denzel.”Before going to bed, make sure you have a small protein rich snack – such as cottage cheese and a bit of nuts – the magnesium and amino acids will help you sleep deeper and wake up less throughout the night.” Nighttime is when hormones like prolactin and growth hormone peak and those are powerful immune system, metabolism and behavior modulators.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Have 1/2 cup of cottage cheese or 1 oz nuts once a day.
Lowering your body fat levels is an easy way to regulate your hormones. And a surefire way to do so is by eating whole foods. “Trade your acellular carbohydrates—think flour, pasta, breads— for cellular carbohydrates which include produce like beets, squash, potatoes, beans,” recommends Denzel. “This will automatically drop the caloric density of your food, regulating your digestion and helping you get to a lower weight while feeling well fed.”
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Go for two cups of veggies per meal, cooked or raw
Natural Whole Proteins
Eggs, meats, fish, legumes should be a part of every meal, recommends Denzel. These filling foods “lowers your appetite and promotes healthy hormone levels through ample amino acids and micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc and B vitamins.”
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: You should eat 20-30 grams of protein at each meal depending on your activity level.
Pro and Pre-Biotics
For optimal hormone balance, you need to mind your gut. When your digestion isn’t optimal, hormones cannot get properly metabolized. “Foods that are fermented, such as yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kvass and kimchi can help restore your gut health by introducing beneficial probiotics,” says Galina Denzel, co-author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week. “Add foods rich in prebiotics – specific fibers that beneficial bacteria feast on – jicama, leeks, onions, jerusalem artichoke, chicory root. Those foods will serve as a rich diet for the beneficial bacteria and they will colonize your gut easier.” They’ll also help when you wonder how to get rid of bloating.
Eat This, Not That! Recommends: Go with one serving of a probiotic food daily, such as a glass of kombucha, 1/4 cup of sauerkraut, 1 cup yogurt. You can slowly increase to two. For pre-biotics, include a cup of a prebiotic food 3 times a week.
For more sure-fire ways to lose your belly, don’t miss these 50 Best Ever Weight-Loss Secrets From Skinny People.
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Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!
5 Keys to Balance Fat Burning Hormones
Fat Burning hormones play a critical role in the body’s biochemical processes dictating gender and affect human desires to socialize and maintain healthy relationships. They influence all aspects of health including aging, sexual development, immune response, growth, sleep, mood and even how our body responds to stress.
Given their complexity, it is no surprise that people who struggle with weight loss are unaware that their hormones may be the culprit. There are 5 fat burning hormones that play a critical role in regulating body weight. Read on to learn how they impact your ability to burn fat and how balancing these hormones can support your weight loss endeavors and improve your overall quality of life.
Fatty (adipose) tissue is responsible for the production of adiponectin and is released through insulin signaling pathways. Adiponectin has the ability to directly lower blood glucose levels, breakdown triglycerides and increase the oxidation of fat in various muscles and the liver. Studies show that the higher the levels of circulating adiponectin in an individual, the greater the weight loss potential. (13)
If you are struggling to burn fat and lose weight, it may be likely that your body is not producing enough of the hormone adiponectin. When a person consumes too many calories or a diet high in fats, specifically unhealthy fats like trans-fats, the ability to synthesize and secrete adiponectin is lowered due to insulin resistance. As a result, triglyceride levels remain elevated and muscles do not have the required energy to function optimally.
One of the best things for increasing adiponectin and enhancing metabolism is green tea. Drinking 1-2 cups of this organic matcha green tea daily is one of the best things for your metabolism, brain, circulatory system and immune system. This is one of the key fat burning hormones we want to stimulate to reach our metabolic goals!
Ghrelin is involved in the gut-brain connection because it is primarily produced in the stomach and sends signals to the brain to control appetite. It is a major hormone involved in regulating metabolism and is also responsible for triggering human growth hormone secretion. Obese individuals have significantly reduced growth hormone secretion compared to individuals of normal weight (19).
Overproduction of ghrelin activates a series of events that cause temporary effects. Ghrelin triggers the emptying of stomach contents, notifies the brain of hunger and the need for more food intake, and it also increases fat accumulation by slowing down processes that breakdown stored fat.
Research shows that ghrelin concentration is directly correlated to stomach size and can slow weight loss efforts in overweight and obese individuals. (13) Follow the strategies at the bottom of this article to support ghrelin levels and optimize your fat burning hormones.
An imbalance in the hormone insulin is most often associated with diabetes but those who are not diabetic may also have difficultly controlling blood sugar levels. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas to help normalize blood glucose and officiates the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins in a range of tissues and organs. When adequate levels of glucose are provided, insulin can regulate energy for cells and promote muscular activity. (18)
However, repetitive spikes or extended periods of high insulin levels can ultimately lead to food cravings, metabolic syndromes and insulin resistance seen in type-2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (5). Insulin resistance prevents glucose from being transported into cells, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels and blocking the impact of fat burning hormones.
Excess glucose is rerouted into the body as a form of fat reserve which redirects energy that would predominantly be taken up by muscle. These physiological imbalances lead to reduced muscle growth, increased fat deposits and abnormal satiety and appetite responses that promote weight gain (18).
Leptin is referred to as the “satiety hormone” because it influences metabolism and controls appetite. It is often regarded as the hormone for treating obesity because it suppresses the desire for food intake and drives energy output. Leptin synthesis normalizes glucose and insulin levels, helps manage food intake and body weight, and also stabilizes endocrine hormones that can drive physiological imbalances that lead to weight gain. (13)
Leptin is also intricately involved with other fat burning hormones. A deficiency in leptin can stimulate a decrease in adiponectin and consequently result in increased fatty tissue. However, increased leptin in obese individuals is linked to a decrease in human growth hormone which suggests that these individuals have chronic inflammation that is impacting the leptin receptor and causing leptin resistance (14).
The more body fat one has, the more inflammation and leptin the fat tissue will produce. However, this hormone is also dependent upon other influences like gender, age, dietary habits and sleep cycles. (13) Following an anti-inflammatory diet and sleeping well is very important to optimizing leptin sensitivity and stimulating the rest of the fat burning hormones.
Cortisol signaling is linked to many physiological processes in the body that increase one’s propensity toward weight gain. Chronic stress results in high levels of circulating cortisol which can turn off hormones that control appetite and weight gain (16). The overproduction of stress hormones like cortisol causes symptoms of fatigue and blood sugar imbalances that further creates dysfunction in the central nervous system. In turn, this leads to more addictive and unhealthy food cravings. (3)
The adrenal glands secrete cortisol which subsequently slows down the production of the hormone testosterone. When this happens over an extended duration, an individual can suffer from adrenal fatigue and they also are limited in their body’s ability to build muscle because of testosterone loss.
This creates a catabolic state, where the body tears down bone and muscle and stores fat. Reduced lean body tissue slows down the bodies overall metabolism and causes the body to hold on to more fat storage leading to elevated insulin and insulin resistance as well.
5 Action Steps for Hormone Balance
Weight gain may be the most noticeable concern for some, but it is certainly not the most severe symptom of hormone imbalance. Other symptoms include fatigue, depression, anxiety, decreased libido, and women may experience symptoms of PMS, infertility, have an irregular menstrual cycle or reach menopause early. More serious conditions that can result from hormone imbalances include autoimmune problems such as cancer, leaky gut syndrome, thyroid and degenerative brain disorders. (8, 9)
Take these 5 action steps to help manage your hormones naturally and take back control of your weight and health.
1) Great Hydration
Many symptoms of hormone imbalance alone can be significantly improved by simply ensuring that your body is well hydrated. When we allow our bodies to become deficient in water, cells shrink and the brain responds by sending hormonal signals anticipating the need for thirst to be quenched. Unfortunately, before we even perceive ourselves as feeling thirsty, the body is already dehydrated. Often this can cause us to reach to satisfy a salty food craving before we satisfy our thirst.
Optimal hydration is key to regulating osmotic processes in critical organs like the kidney and aids in eliminating stress hormones. Fat burning hormones require sufficient water intake to control homeostatic processes in the body such as blood pressure and sugar balance (10). Considering that the loss of only 2% of body fluid will adversely affect one’s exercise performance, maintaining great hydration is necessary for modulating hormone levels and reducing stress (11).
Strategies for Ensuring Optimal Hydration:
- Drink 32 ounces of water within the first hour of waking up followed by half of your body weight in ounces before noon and a gallon of water over the entire day
- Avoid overdoing caffeine (1-2 cups in the earlier parts of the day is fine)
- Completely avoid sweetened beverages like soda and processed energy drinks
- Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or use lemon/lime in your water to enhance anti-oxidant and enzyme levels
2) Healthy Diet
Maintaining gut health through diet is key in supporting weight loss and fat burning hormones. Bacteria reside along the gastrointestinal tract and communicate with the body by sensing hormones (4). Any disruption to the balance of gut bacteria increases stress on the body and increases the likelihood of malnutrition which can lead to unhealthy food cravings.
A balanced diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables and both probiotic and prebiotic foods ensures the necessary fiber, antioxidants and healthy bacteria to support gut health. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids helps stabilize blood sugar preventing spikes in insulin. Magnesium rich in dark leafy green vegetables helps naturally elevate adiponectin levels.
These foods also contain nutrients that naturally elevate mood boosting hormones helping you steer clear of foods that provide only temporary satisfaction. Adaptogenic herbs can also improve mood, support mental performance, combat fatigue, support fat burning hormones and increase libido by regulating stress hormones. (5, 6, 7, 12)
Strategies for Improving Diet:
- Promote gut motility by consuming kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and coconut water
- Include more fatty acid rich foods into your diet such as 100% grass-fed beef, coconut oil, wild-caught salmon and chia seeds
- Caffeine raises cortisol levels- curb back your intake and choose decaf
- Eliminate all processed sugars and refined foods
- Incorporate adaptogenic herbs to your diet including rhodiola, cordyceps, holy basil, and Siberian ginseng
- Up your intake of magnesium rich foods like avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach and kale
3) Regular Movement
A significant stress reliever, exercise increases blood circulation enabling your body to better filter out stress hormones like cortisol from your system. Studies show that exercise has protective benefits against declining health because it combats stress, slows down the aging process and improves sleep habits (17). Moving regularly improves blood sugar balance by reducing circulating glucose levels in the blood.
This is one reason why people who participate in some form of activity following a meal have improved postprandial sugar levels. Give yourself 10 minutes before returning to work from your lunch break to take a lap around the parking lot or consider doing the dishes immediately following dinner instead of waiting until the following day.
Strategies for Moving Daily:
- Perform high intensity exercises by zoning in on specific muscle groups and elevating heart rate
- Enjoy low intensity exercises like swimming and walking
- Enjoy moving whether gardening or dancing
- Use resistant bands for low impact strength training
- Improve muscle tone and balance by learning tai chi or yoga
4) Good Sleep
Polls taken by The National Sleep Foundation indicate that 60% of people experience some form of sleep problem at night (2). The majority of those individuals report mood disturbances, and unhealthy changes in their family and social life. Sleep deprivation promotes the sustained higher levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. Individuals who receive both sufficient and quality hours of sleep have lowered stress hormones and a dramatic decrease in inflammatory agents circulating the body. (3)
In a study, a reduction in sleep was shown to cause a decrease in leptin, an increase in ghrelin, impaired glucose tolerance and increased hunger and appetite. Such data suggests that inadequate sleep in people of all ages may likely contribute to increasing obesity and type-2 diabetes. (15)
Strategies for Improving Sleep:
- Aim to sleep 7 to 9 hours
- Receive plenty of sunshine during day light hours
- Sleep in a dark and cool environment (between 60 and 65 degrees)
- Avoid all technological distractions no less than 1 hour before bed including phone, computer and television use
- Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages in the late afternoon and evening
- Avoid rigorous exercise in the evening
- Stick to a regular sleeping schedule focusing on falling asleep before 11pm.
- Use an eye mask to cover your eyes and maximize your melatonin secretions. This mask helps me tremendously.
- Download f.lux onto your computer, phone or device and wear blue light blocking glasses at night, this can help see a 70% increase in melatonin secretion before bed.
5) Reduce Stress
Incorporating adequate rest and relaxation into your daily life is critical to improving hormone balance. While we work endlessly to keep up with life’s regular demands, our bodies’ systems become strained and depleted of the energy to regulate physiological processes optimally.
Studies show that chronic stress significantly increases cortisol levels in the body which has been implicated as a cause of a pain, anxiety and disease. Stress also has been shown to trigger alterations to human growth hormone secretion, thyroid-stimulating hormone and testosterone. Following a short 4 month period of regular meditation practices, a group of individuals were shown to have improved hormone balance and a healthier response to stress. (1)
Strategies for Reducing Stress:
- Wind down with a calming Epsom salt bath
- Utilize the therapeutic potential of aromatherapy by inhaling essential oils like frankincense, chamomile and lavender
- Practice stress relaxation exercises daily including grounding, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and stretching
Fat Burning Hormones Bonus Strategy
Do you believe you are doing everything right and still question why it is so difficult to lose weight? Functional Medicine looks to find the origin of the problem as opposed to only treating the symptoms. Such doctors empower patients by utilizing evidence-based functional medicine and educating individuals how to use the body’s natural healing potential to thrive and live a vital life.
Finding a functional health practitioner can help you learn which fat burning hormones may be out of balance in your body and identify ways to regulate those key fat burning hormones. He or she can show you how to correct the problem by personalizing a care plan that starts you on the path to weight loss and healing.
Sources for this Article Include:
12. Reichrath J, et al. Vitamins as Hormones. Horm Metab Res. 207 Feb; 39(2): 71-84. PMID: 17326003
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How to activate fat burning hormones in 4 simple steps
“Successful weight loss takes programming, not willpower.” -Phil McGraw
Who doesn’t want to be fit and look like a million bucks? From the clothes, we wear to the food we eat a lot of factors come together to contribute to how presentable we look. And most importantly do we exercise is another essential factor that contributes to the way we look.
While everyone wants to be fit, losing weight is not that simple. In fact, if you are one of those who have been following various diets to get in shape with no results? Fret not we’ve got you covered.
It’s a known fact that if you want to lose weight then you must be consistent with your workout and change your diet completely. You should be eating more vegetables and fruits as they help your body get enough nutrients.
A cardinal rule to follow is that you should have your last meal before 7 pm. Even though you would have been doing everything right a common problem that everyone tends to face these days is a hormonal imbalance.
Here are a couple of rules that will help you to activate your fat-burning hormones that will in turn aid in losing weight without any side effects on your body.
You can start by eliminating sugar from your diet completely. This means you need to remove all foods high in sugar, starchy veggies, cookies, candies, processed foods etc.
Even though these foods are extremely delicious but they also happen to be really rich in sugar and carbs. At the start, these foods will aid in helping to boost your energy levels. However, when you stop consuming these food groups what your body will do is to start burning your fat reserves, which will in turn aid in weight gain.
Vegetables like beans and leafy greens have a lot of fiber content that will aid in improve your digestion. Try and incorporate them into your daily meals as much as possible. As a rule, consume more raw vegetables than cooked ones. They will aid in your weight loss. So eat lots and lots of greens.
Another mistake that most of us make is that we don’t major factors for losing weight is eating after 7 pm. According to dieticians, your last major meal should be between 4 to 5 pm. Instead, have three small meals and have a salad for dinner. Detox water and lemon water is what you need.
Also, you should never ever skip your meals. Stop eating out and make sure that all your meals are homecooked. Smart eating alone will not get you the results that you need, look for ways to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule as well.
You can start your day with a 10-minute cardio workout and follow this up with some weight training. In just a matter of weeks, you will see the desired results. This video will help you with the four steps that will aid in activating your fat-burning hormones.
Currently, a major topic in the field of obesity research is the link between obesity and the hormone leptin. Some evidence suggests that obese-prone individuals don’t respond to increasing leptin levels in the same way that non-obese-prone individuals do, which is the reason obesity is now being associated with possible “leptin resistance.” Scientists first discovered leptin in 1994, after years of research focused on hormones that affect body weight and calorie intake. While initially researchers believed the discovery could be used to create powerful weight loss supplements, this has never happened.
How does leptin function in the body and where does the hormone come from? Leptin interacts with areas of the brain that control hunger and eating behavior. (1) The nickname “the starvation hormone” has been given to leptin because levels tend to plummet when someone restricts their calorie intake too much, exercises more and loses body fat. These are all factors involved in what’s called “starvation mode.” (Meanwhile, ghrelin is called a “hunger hormone” that increases your desire to eat.)
At your ideal “set point weight,” adipose (fat) cells produce a given amount of leptin, which maintains the internal energy balance needed for necessary cellular function and proper weight management. (2) In most healthy adults, changes in body weight will trigger changes in leptin, causing appetite to either increase when body fat falls or decrease when body fat rises — although in some susceptible individuals this energy-balance system seems to malfunction.
There’s still a lot to learn about how leptin resistance (or decreased sensitivity to leptin’s signals) develops, and what can be done to prevent or reverse it. Many experts believe that eating a highly processed, highly “palatable” diet — especially while also leading a stressful and mostly sedentary lifestyle — is the perfect storm for developing leptin resistance.
Even if someone is genetically susceptible to weight gain or obesity, there’s still a lot they can do to help prevent this from happening, especially eating a nutrient-dense diet, getting enough exercise and taking steps to manage stress.
What Is the Leptin Hormone?
The definition of leptin is “a peptide hormone that is produced by fat cells that plays a role in body weight regulation by acting on the hypothalamus to suppress appetite and burn fat stored in adipose tissue.” (3)
Leptin is known as the starvation hormone (or sometimes the “satiety hormone”) because it notifies your brain if you have eaten enough and your energy levels (calorie intake) are sufficient, or if your energy intake needs to increase. A number of factors can influence leptin and ghrelin levels, including:
- Calorie intake
- Meal timing
- Sleep/wake schedule and sleep duration (both linked to your circadian rhythmn)
- Light exposure
The main regulator of leptin production is body fat (or adipose tissue). Levels fluctuate depending on your current weight, especially your percentage of body fat. Leptin is produced mainly by adipocytes (fat cells), which is why levels of leptin usually increase when someone gains more body fat, and decrease when someone loses weight. Leptin also plays an important role in the regulation of the reproductive system, thyroid gland, adrenal glands and growth hormone production. (4)
Leptin does its job by binding to and activating receptors in the brain known as LEPR-B receptors. When leptin levels go up your hunger should decrease, while at the same time you start consciously and unconsciously increasing energy expenditure (the amount of “calories burned”). This feedback system helps most people to prevent too much weight gain.
How is leptin different than ghrelin?
Leptin and ghrelin are two of the many hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, appetite and body weight. While leptin is considered the main”satiety hormone” because it helps control your appetite, ghrelin is considered the main “hunger hormone” because it increases your desire to eat.
When levels of ghrelin and leptin are disrupted, your ability to eat when you are truly hungry and stop when you are full can become severely compromised, leading to changes in body weight and other related consequences. Even though these two hormones have opposite effects, working together in a checks-and-balances type of way, diet and lifestyle changes that help to regulate leptin are also helpful for controlling ghrelin.
Leptin Resistance and Obesity
What do studies suggest is the relationship between obesity and leptin? The National Institutes of Health uses the following clinical definition of leptin resistance: “The failure of endogenous or exogenous leptin to promote anticipated salutary metabolic outcomes in states of over-nutrition or obesity.” (5) In other words, leptin resistance has been described as when your “brain is starving but your body is obese.”
As described above, weight gain typically causes blood leptin levels to increase, and weight loss typically results in decreased levels. But this is not the case with leptin resistance, which may contribute to a vicious cycle of weight gain. Someone who is resistant to leptin is not sensitive enough to the hormone’s signals. Being leptin resistant can mean that someone requires more food than necessary to feel “full” or satiated, due to the brain not receiving the message that enough food (calories) has already been eaten. (6)
- Although it’s still not exactly clear how, experts believe that obesity alters multiple cellular processes that interfere with normal leptin signaling. (7)
- Leptin resistance itself might not directly cause obesity, but it may contribute to cellular changes that make weight gain more likely when combined with genetic and environmental factors.
- For example, certain gene mutations seem to cause a greater desire for energy-dense foods (such as highly processed, junk foods) that can promote obesity. Obesity may then contribute to chronic low-level inflammation, insulin resistance and other health problems that make weight loss more difficult. This is because inflammation and its consequences decreases leptin sensitivity in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. (8)
Leptin resistance is a difficult phenomenon to treat, mainly because the human body seems to want to hold onto excess body fat more than it wants to lose it. It’s now believed that a major protective role of leptin is to defend against reductions of body fat that might cause a threat to survival and future reproduction.
This might seem counterproductive, since it increases the risk for obesity — but it makes sense when you think about our ancestors who were at a much greater risk of under-eating and starving, than overeating and becoming obese. Research shows that the body has more powerful ways of defending against starvation (low leptin levels) by producing strong hunger responses than it does defending against weight gain (excess calorie intake and high leptin).
How to Make Leptin, Your Starvation Hormone, Work for You
How do you increase (or decrease) your leptin levels? Keep in mind that your leptin levels are not the only factor that controls your body weight; other influencers include your: overall diet, genetics, age, gender, level of activity, medical history and gut health.
However, research suggests that the dietary choices, habits and lifestyle changes described below can help to regulate levels of leptin and allow you to more easily maintain a healthy body weight:
1. Follow a Leptin Diet
Is there such a thing as “high leptin foods”? Foods that are very satiating (the kinds that make you feel full) can be considered the best types for improving leptin sensitivity.
Two hot topics regarding obesity and leptin resistance are 1) food palatability and 2) food reward. (9) Food palatability refers to the taste and feel provided by various foods and drinks, while food reward refers to the pleasure and momentary value of a food at the time that it’s being consumed. Both food palatability and food reward have a major impact on neural pathways that control calorie intake.
The rewarding aspects of food, how palatable and preferred they are, are controlled by circuitry central nervous system (CNS) pathways that also control leptin and ghrelin. When a food is calorie-dense and highly processed, it causes chemical changes in the brain that increase the desire to eat. This is why eating whole foods and an unprocessed diet is considered to be so important for appetite regulation.
Which foods should you NOT eat in order to balance leptin?
Foods that are most likely to interfere with normal leptin and ghrelin levels are those that are high in refined grains, added sugar, added fats, artificial flavors or sweeteners, and other synthetic ingredients, especially when a number of these attributes are combined together. Studies suggest that examples of processed, inflammatory foods to limit or avoid in order to regulate your hunger and satiety hormones include: sweets like cakes, donuts, cookies, pastries, brownies and other desserts, soda and sweetened beverages, pizza, white bread, rolls, wraps, pita, chocolate, candy and ice cream, salty snacks like chips, pretzels and french fries, processed meats and fried foods.
These foods can help to make you feel fuller and more satisfied after eating and between meals, reducing the chances that you’ll overeat:
- High fiber/high volume foods (especially all types of fresh and cooked vegetables) — Low-density foods (high in volume, water and fiber) are those that provide the highest nutritional bang for your buck, since they provide lots of nutrients but have the lowest amount of calories. Examples are veggies, fresh fruit, salads, broth-based soups, beans, legumes and whole grains. Many of these are high-fiber foods that help control hunger, prevent overeating and increase mealtime satisfaction.
- High-protein foods — Since protein helps control hunger and retain lean muscle mass, increasing your protein intake can help you eat less overall and keep your metabolism up. Include protein with every meal, like yogurt, grass-fed beef, wild fish, egg, pasture-raised poultry, legumes and beans.
- Healthy fats — Fats are more calorie-dense, but they are necessary for nutrient absorption, making meals taste good and for controlling hunger hormones. A meal without any fat is unlikely to taste very appealing or to keep you full for very long. Try to include at least a small serving of healthy fat with every meal, such as coconut or olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds or fat found naturally in animal products like dairy, beef or eggs.
2. Alternate Day Calorie Cycling & Intermittent Fasting (or Time-Restricted Feeding)
Various forms of intermittent fasting, including alternate day cycling and time-restricted eating, have been associated with improvements in leptin sensitivity and help with fat loss. Experts believe that fasting may help to control local inflammation in the hypothalamic nuclei (the area of the brain that controls energy intake and expenditure), which contributes to a sustained energy balance and protection against obesity. (11)
One study found evidence that intermittent fasting combined with resistance training could improve health-related biomarkers, decrease fat mass and maintain muscle mass in mostly healthy male participants. After eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16 hours fasting per day with an eight-hour feeding window), participants experienced a decrease in fat mass, while fat-free mass (measured as muscle area of the arm and thigh) was unchanged.
Testosterone, insulin-like growth factor and leptin levels decreased significantly in those who were practicing time-restricted feeding, but there was no negative effect on energy expenditure. Considering that a decrease in leptin levels is usually thought to decrease someone’s metabolic rate, this is a very promising finding. The researchers also found that the participants’ thyroid-stimulating hormone, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein and triglycerides mostly remained unchanged. (12)
3. Eat Mindfully to Reach Satiety
How, when, where and with whom you eat can all influence how much you eat and how satisfied you feel afterwards. Here are tips that can help you eat more mindfully, feel more satisfied (full and content) after eating for at least several hours, and help you to avoid overindulging:
- Don’t eat while distracted or multi-tasking.
- Slow down, chewing your food thoroughly.
- Pace your meals out if this keeps you on track, so you’re eating something every 3–4 hours rather than only 1–2 times per day.
- Fill half your plate with high-volume veggies or fruit so you feel like you’re eating more.
- Cook more at home, then sit down to enjoy your meals peacefully.
- Don’t drink your calories; try to stick with plain water, tea or black coffee.
- Start your meal with a broth-based soup or a salad in order to ease hunger before the main course.
- Remove tempting junk foods from your environment as much as possible, especially at home or in your office.
4. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the best ways to build lean muscle mass, improve your metabolism and increase leptin sensitivity (similarly to how it improves insulin sensitivity). As your physical activity level goes up, so does your metabolic rate and ability to regulate leptin. Even in people who seem to have a genetic predisposition to weight gain, exercise can still be highly protective.
By building strength and muscle mass, exercise helps to divert calories away from being stored as body fat so they can be used to grow and repair lean tissue instead. It also promotes the release of growth hormones, adrenaline and testosterone, all of which enable fat to be used as energy and mobilized rather than stored. In an age when rates of diabetes and heart disease are staggering, exercise remains one of the best ways to promote the use of glucose (sugar) and fatty acids in the blood so they don’t wind up causing metabolic problems.
It’s been found that people who exercise regularly have increased protection against developing dangerous visceral fat and are typically healthier overall compared to non-exercise. In fact, even if exercise doesn’t cause weight loss, it still has many positive effects! Exercise is a natural stress-buster, considering it helps regulate hormones and causes an “endorphin rush,” which can reduce the need for unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating. It’s beneficial for regulating blood pressure, insulin and glucose levels, cholesterol and so on.
How much exercise is enough? Aim for at least 30 minutes daily, but ideally more like 45–60 minutes. A combination of aerobic and strength-building exercises is best. Try to incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT workouts) and burst training into your routine to maximize the metabolic benefits. HIIT, which involves sprinting and vigorous bursts of movement, offers a ton of proven benefits in less time compared to doing steady-state cardio exercise.
While exercise has many metabolic benefits, be aware that too much exercise will lower leptin levels and usually increase appetite. Some studies have found that long duration exercise (ranging from one to multiple hours) will interrupt leptin production and secretion. (13) Exercise needs to be balanced with rest and recovery, because depending on the person, over-training can lead to many problems associated with metabolic damage and low leptin, such as infertility, hypothyroidism, sexual dysfunction and irregular periods. (14)
5. Rest & Manage Stress to Reduce Emotional Eating
Even when someone has required their nutritional and calorie needs, they are still prone to overeating and weight gain if they are chronically stressed. Studies have found associations between high stress levels, including high cortisol levels or symptoms tied to depression or anxiety, and increased weight gain.
To keep stress hormones like cortisol in check and prevent inflammation related to chronic stress, be sure to get enough sleep at night, and also to carve out periods in the day when you can rest your mind and relax. Do at least one thing (or more) that relaxes you each day, such as exercising, meditating, praying, stretching or doing yoga, taking a bath with essential oils, reading, journaling or doing something social.
When you are feeling stressed, be mindful about whether you’re eating for emotional reasons. Try speaking to someone who can help keep you accountable for your actions and on the right track, such a friend, spouse or counselor.
6. Consider Having a Weekly or Bi-Weekly “Cheat Day”
When you’re in a calorie deficit, exercising often and leading weight, your leptin levels decrease. This reduction in leptin levels can make it difficult to keep losing weight, even if you’re still eating less. That’s because it causes your metabolism to slow down, so you require even less calories to just maintain the same weight.
A cheat day is a once weekly, or sometimes once bi-weekly, day when you typically consume much more calories (especially carbs) than you normally eat. Cheat days are meant to be used as a helpful tool when you normally follow a very healthy diet. They work by increasing your calorie intake temporarily, which “tricks” your body into thinking it’s being overfed, causing an increase in your leptin levels.
Several small studies have found positive results from cheat days/temporary overeating, including increases in metabolic rate and help with long-term dieting. (16) Because cheat days help to keep your metabolism up, they may also help with weight loss long-term, even if they lead to temporary gains or stalls in the short-term.
7. Track Your Progress
Studies have found that most people who have been able to lose weight and keep it off — such as those who are registered with the National Weight Control Registry — are careful about managing their progress, keeping up with exercise and even tracking their food intake. You don’t necessarily have to count calories to prevent weight gain, but you might want to keep some type of food journal if you find this helps keep you accountable.
Other ways that you can keep track of your health-related goals and progress include:
- Working with a dietitian, nutritionist or health coach.
- Seeing a personal trainer or attending group fitness classes.
- Finding a buddy to regularly walk or run with.
- Setting a schedule for your week so you make some to grocery shop, cook and exercise.
- Meal planning and preparing, which helps you avoid eating out too much.
Precautions Regarding Leptin & Other Hunger Hormones
You might think in order to increase leptin levels effectively, and help to prevent or reverse obesity, why don’t we just take leptin supplements? Obesity researchers have been asking the same question for years, but unfortunately studies carried out thus far suggest that leptin supplements are usually ineffective and also risky.
In rare cases, the use of leptin supplements may be helpful for certain people with genetic mutations who produce nearly zero leptin or who do not respond to its signals, but for the vast majority of people these supplements are currently not a viable option (only lifestyle changes are!). (16)
Final Thoughts on Leptin
- Leptin is a peptide hormone that is produced by fat cells that plays a role in body weight regulation. It does this by acting on the hypothalamus (a region in the brain that controls homeostasis) to suppress appetite and burn fat stored in adipose tissue (body fat).
- When levels of ghrelin (the main “hunger hormone”) and leptin are disrupted, your ability to eat when you are truly hungry and stop when you are full can become severely compromised, which sometimes leads to obesity.
- Ways to prevent leptin resistance and make leptin work in your favor include: eating a nutrient-dense diet (very little highly proceseed foods), getting enough exercise, tracking your progress, setting up a healthy food environment, eating mindfully, and taking steps to manage stress.
You and Your Hormones
Alternative names for leptin
There are no other names used for the hormone but the gene, which encodes leptin, is known as the ‘ob’ gene.
What is leptin?
Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells in adipose tissue. Leptin signals to the brain, in particular to an area called the hypothalamus. Leptin does not affect food intake from meal to meal but, instead, acts to alter food intake and control energy expenditure over the long term. Leptin has a more profound effect when we lose weight and levels of the hormone fall. This stimulates a huge appetite and increased food intake. The hormone helps us to maintain our normal weight and unfortunately for dieters, makes it hard to lose those extra pounds!
How is leptin controlled?
Because leptin is produced by fat cells, the amount of leptin released is directly related to the amount of body fat; so the more fat an individual has, the more leptin they will have circulating in their blood. Leptin levels increase if an individual increases their fat mass over a period of time and, similarly, leptin levels decrease if an individual decreases their fat mass over a period of time.
What happens if I have too much leptin?
Obese people have unusually high levels of leptin. This is because in some obese people, the brain does not respond to leptin, so they keep eating despite adequate (or excessive) fat stores, a concept known as ‘leptin resistance’. This causes the fat cells to produce even more leptin. This is similar to the way people with type 2 diabetes have unusually high levels of insulin, as their body is resistant to the effects of insulin. The cause of leptin resistance is still unclear.
What happens if I have too little leptin?
There is an extremely rare condition called congenital leptin deficiency, which is a genetic condition in which the body cannot produce leptin. In the UK, there are only about four families affected by this genetic condition.
Absence of leptin makes the body think it does not have any fat whatsoever and this results in uncontrolled food intake and severe childhood obesity. In addition, leptin deficiency may cause delayed puberty and poor function of the immune system. This condition can be well treated by leptin injections, which cause dramatic weight loss.
Last reviewed: Mar 2018
Jul 16, 2018 / Adiponectin, Energy, Exercise and Strength, Fat-loss, Fibre, Hormones and Anti-Aging, Inflammation, Nutrition, Nutrition and Weight Loss, Supplements, Turmeric, Zinc 8 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR FAT-BURNING HORMONE ADIPONECTIN
By Dr. Natasha Turner ND
Adiponectin seems too good to be true! Essentially, it’s a hormone that burns fat. That’s not all. In some animal testing models, this fat-burning advantage appeared without a related increase in hunger. Adiponectin is produced in—and sent out from— our fat cells, where it helps us lose fat by improving our insulin sensitivity. Think of adiponectin as the fat factor that ironically leads to its own demise: it’s produced by your fat, but also helps to burn it up! Here are my top eight ways to give your adiponectin a boost, just in time for bikini season.
How to Increase Your Adiponectin
1.Give Your Body an Oil Change
Amazingly, researchers have found that an intake of monounsaturated fats such as fish oil, boosts levels of adiponectin by 14 to 60 per cent. And even better news: these fats are the tastiest fats to eat! They include avocados, nuts, olives and olive oil. Safflower oil has also been shown to trigger the production of adiponectin. I recommend getting your health-promoting dose of this oil by consuming 4 capsules per day of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) derived from safflower oil. Check out Clear CLA; it’s the most effective form of CLA I have found to date. Pureform Omega is also an excellent plant based omega or Clear Omega is our top-selling fish oil.
2. Fill Up on Fibre
Good old fibre still seems to be a time-tested leader in the weight-loss field—but now we have cutting-edge evidence to explain its dominance. Researchers have found that adding fibre to the diet increased adiponectin levels by as much as 115 percent! Fibre also stabilizes glucose levels and reduces the glycemic impact of meals (i.e., the blood sugar spike after you eat), which improves insulin sensitivity. I can’t say enough about getting your 35 g of fibre per day—divided between four meals. It’s so simple, but the influences on your fat loss and hormonal balance are really profound. We have lots more information on fibre here and also here.
3. All About Exercise
Research suggests that moderate exercise at least three times a week can increase your adiponectin levels significantly. The resulting elevation in adiponectin levels occurs for 24 to 72 hours—which explains my inspiration to suggest walking at least three times per week as part of the Hormone Boost workout.
4. Don’t Kick Your Coffee Habit
Regular coffee consumption has been linked to an increase in adiponectin levels and a reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could boost weight loss and reduce inflammation levels. The Hormone Boost recommends organic, fair trade coffee; you can enjoy a cup early in the day or before a workout for best results.
5. Top Up the Turmeric
Turmeric (also known as curcumin) fights inflammation, which, at high levels, contributes to weight gain. As well as working at the fat cell level, turmeric increases adiponectin production and improves insulin sensitivity. It works by reducing the hormones in your fat cells that cause inflammation (primarily resistin and leptin), and it boosts adiponectin, which helps control appetite. If you prefer supplements, take one to two capsules on an empty stomach (30 minutes before a meal or two hours after). If you experience heartburn, take it with food instead. Did you know curcumin is the the principal curcuminoid in turmeric? Look for Clear Curcumin as an excellent supplement choice if you prefer not to dose your food with turmeric! For other wonderful benefits of this wonderful spice read our past newsletter here.
6. Revel in Red Wine
Raise your glass if you are healthy in all the right ways! Resveratrol, a compound in grapes, displays antioxidant and other positive properties. A 2011 study in The Journal of Biological Chemistry by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that resveratrol also stimulates the expression of adiponectin. Both adiponectin and resveratrol display anti-obesity, anti-insulin resistance and anti-aging properties. You can also take resveratrol supplements: I suggest two capsules daily on rising.
7. Consume Your Carbs at Dinner
Yes, you read that correctly: carbs in the evening are actually good for you! According to a 2012 research study completed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an experimental diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner, rather than during the day, seems to benefit people suffering from severe and morbid obesity. This diet seems to influence the secretion patterns of the hormones responsible for hunger and satiety, as well as the hormones associated with metabolic syndrome, including a boost in the daytime production of adiponectin.
8. Simple as Zinc at Bedtime
The level of adiponectin increased significantly in subjects who received 50 mg of zinc compared to a control group, according to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Diabetes and Obesity (June 2012). Take 50 mg of zinc citrate or zinc picolinate for a maximum of 12 weeks only, then reduce the dose or switch to a multivitamin containing zinc. Clear Zinc 50 and Clear Zinc 30 are both fantastic zinc capsules we have at the clinic.
(Image courtesy of Unsplash)
“If you don’t know about fat burning hormones, you can be sabotaging your weight loss.”
Most people, including dietitians, and physical trainers do not know about the effects of these powerful hormones. As a result, they exercise more, eat less and get fatter.
This does not need to be the case. Hormones are another very powerful tool in your natural weight loss.
Before we get into the fat burning hormones I just want to go over what hormones in the first place. Here is a brief primer on hormones and how they affect your weight and fat.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
The First one I will talk about is HGH, or the Human Growth Hormone. HGH is a very powerful hormone that changes the chemistry of the body so that it starts using fat for energy instead of just sugar. It reduces the age of your metabolism. In other words it turns the age of your metabolism to that of a younger you. Learn More About Human Growth Hormone
Testosterone is another hormone that regulates the production of fat. Specifically, it builds lean muscle which in-turn can assist with fat burning. Testosterone changes your body shape into the shape that you want it to look like. There are other lesser known effects as well. Testosterone also chisels the appearance of a person. Learn more about Testosterone for Fat Loss.
Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF)
This is a fat burning hormone that is stimulated by HGH. Its primary purpose is to provide fuel to your body in between meals. The way it does this is by releasing stored fat as well as stored sugar to create energy. Learn more about Insulin-Growth Factors
The thyroid produces hormones that have a major effect on the amount of fat your body has. There are two hormones produced by the thyroid that change how much fat you have – T3 and Thyroxine.
Both of these increase the rate at which your metabolism functions. Specifically, they increase the rate at which the muscle cells use energy up. The when the muscle cells use energy up faster they need to refueled and fat is forced to become a necessary source of fuel to recharge the cells. Learn more about thyroid
Insulin is both a fat burning and fat storing hormone depending on its state in the body. You will see this on both pages of because insulin and glucagon are both double-edge hormones. Learn about insulin.
Glucagon is a double-edged hormone that opposes and does the opposite of insulin. They both regulate the amount of blood sugar in your body. They are both fat storing and fat burning. Learn more about Glucagon.
The holidays came and went, and now we are here again:
The mid-winter bulges and blahs. From the holiday treats that you want to burn off, to the frosty weather that keeps you indoors, chances are everything has conspired lately to make you feel heavier and sluggish at times.
Now it’s time to turn the tables and make things work in your favor, to help you improve your mood, gain energy and lose weight.
As I will explain, it’s about the remarkable weight-loss hormone called leptin. And so you can get started right away, I have included plenty of links for free recipes, resources and more information.
If you have tried restrictive diets but failed to make the scale budge, you know there is more to the weight-loss equation than calories taken in minus calories used.
Chances are your weight problem is not a matter of will or discipline, but a hormonal imbalance. While many still think that losing weight is simply about willpower, eating less and exercising more, the latest research on obesity indicates the problem is far more complex, involving many factors.
One key area of obesity research focuses on how the hormone leptin influences the body’s ability to shed excess pounds. What could a hormone have to do with weight loss?
According to the latest research, leptin plays an important role in appetite control, metabolism and weight loss. It is your body’s natural weight control mechanism. And the great thing about leptin is that it is produced naturally in the body.
Leptin Regulates Metabolism And Appetite
- It lets your brain know how much fat is in your body. As leptin levels rise, your appetite diminishes. As leptin levels fall, your appetite increases.
- It regulates the rate of fat breakdown. As leptin levels rise, your metabolic rate increases. As leptin levels fall, your metabolism slows.
The number of calories you burn is regulated by thermogenesis, a process in which the body makes heat, mainly in the muscles. According to recent research from Monash University in Australia, the hormone leptin can substantially increase thermogenesis, helping to burn fat.
The body doesn’t always listen to the leptin message and leptin resistance occurs. The leptin signal isn’t being heard, so it cannot stimulate your metabolism or suppress your appetite. Leptin resistance can make losing weight very difficult if not impossible.
What causes leptin resistance? The typical modern lifestyle contributes to leptin resistance; fast food, little or no exercise, too much stress and not enough sleep. Read my article The Standard American Diet (SAD) to learn more about the alternative to the typical lifestyle.
For example of what can impact leptin, research done at the Laval University in Quebec found that 7-8 hours of sleep each night, on average, was associated with relatively higher levels of leptin. In contrast, getting less sleep meant lower levels of leptin and higher body mass index in the study.
Making Leptin Work So You Can Lose Weight
Unfortunately most doctors aren’t yet fully aware of leptin resistance, or the way to combat it with nutrition and lifestyle.
But my experience practicing nutritional medicine and my exploration of the scientific research provided me with unique insights into how to make leptin work and help people lose weight.
So I put this knowledge together and created a breakthrough program in my book The Fat Resistance Diet.”
The goal of my program is to make leptin work properly and help you lose weight. It includes changes such as switching to a healthy eating plan with recipes that feature a combination of inflammation-fighting foods, getting enough sleep and reducing stress.
Using the nutritional guidelines I provided, my son Jonathan Galland created meal plans and recipes with flavors inspired by his time living in Italy and Japan. We have been very gratified by the enthusiastic response from our readers about the food. Try the free one day meal plan with recipes at my website.
Once you make this change — adding the right fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and protein sources, and cutting back on sugar and unhealthy fats — you’ll notice a remarkable change. Not only will you feel better and look better and find the pounds dropping almost effortlessly, but you’ll also stop craving unhealthy foods.
Increase Your Resting Metabolic Rate
It’s well known that exercise burns calories. In addition, regular exercise stimulates the activity of fat-burning enzymes. The exciting news is that the hormone leptin also stimulates these enzymes, which can increase your metabolic rate even when you’re not exercising. This is important because for most people, the resting metabolic rate accounts for two-thirds of the total number of calories they burn each day.
Five Steps To Increasing Metabolism:
1. Maximize flavor and nutrition. Choose food that give you the most flavor and nutritional value for the calories you consume. These foods are rich in one or more of the dietary elements that help your metabolism such as vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Foods with appetite-satisfying flavor and lots of nutrition top our list, such as blueberries, tomatoes, ginger, onions and fresh herbs.
Get a selection of my favorites here List of Healthy Food Choices.
2. Benefit from Omega-3 Oils. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential to the healthy functioning of the body and brain. Omega-3s help heal inflammation as well as promoting a wide range of cellular activities, and improving or preventing depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. Plant sources of Omega-3s include: ground flax seed, walnuts, and beans — especially navy, kidney and soy. Animal sources include fish, especially oily cold-water fish such as salmon or tuna.
3. Up Your Fruit and Veg Servings to 9 or 10 a Day. Find delicious ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal. Choose those fruits and vegetables with deep colors and intense flavors that reflect their high content of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, like carotenoids and flavonoids. The deepest red and blue flavonoids belong to a subgroup called anthocyanins, found in the jewel-like colors of blueberries, cherries and pomegranates.
4. Skip the Artificial Sweeteners. The use of artificial flavors and sweeteners deprives you of the potent anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in herbs, spices and naturally sweet fruits. Studies show that artificial sweeteners interfere with weight loss. So steer clear of these sugar substitutes and enjoy fruit, fruit juice and fruit concentrates for their flavor and nutrition. A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also raised concerns about the use of artificial sweeteners. See more in my article “Artificial Sweeteners, Not So Sweet.”
5. Enjoy Healthy Snacks and Desserts. Snacks satisfy hunger, and desserts add fun and satisfaction to a meal. Indulge, but in healthy choices only. Enjoy delicious snacks such as crunchy walnuts or almonds, and dessert treats made from fruit and yogurt that will excite your palate while keeping you satisfied.
In addition to weight loss, the important role that the leptin hormone plays in maintaining health is still being discovered. For a look at leptin and the brain, read my article: “Leptin Fights Alzheimer’s Disease.”
(For readers of Italian, my book was translated into Italian and published as La Dieta Galland by TEA in Milan.)
Now I’d like to hear from you …
What is your post-holiday season recovery plan?
What have you found to be helpful?
Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.
Leo Galland, M.D.
Important: Share the Health with your friends and family by forwarding this article to them, and sharing on Facebook.
Leo Galland, MD is a board-certified internist, author and internationally recognized leader in integrated medicine. Dr. Galland is the founder of Pill Advised, a web application for learning about medications, supplements and food. Sign up for FREE to discover how your medications and vitamins interact. Watch his videos on YouTube and join the Pill Advised Facebook page.
“The Fat Resistance Diet” by Leo Galland, M.D., Broadway Books
Monash University “Research adds weight to fat burning theories” 27 February 2008
This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) or the creation of a physician–patient relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.
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