Reset Five Hormones for Fat Loss
Fat loss…it seems like most people struggle with it at some point or other, especially after the holidays. The latest research shows that hormones can impact the appetite and metabolism. Take a look at five important hormones and the role they play in fat loss.
Ghrelin – Produced in the stomach, ghrelin is a hormone that works within the brain to signal hunger. A reduced-calorie diet raises levels of ghrelin – even after 12 months. This explains why maintaining weight loss can be so challenging. Fortunately, intense physical exercise can counter this problem and lower ghrelin levels in the body, making it a key factor for weight loss and maintenance.
Leptin – According to recent studies, leptin is a hormone important for control of appetite and metabolism. Leptin signals the brain how much fat is in the body, and it regulates the rate at which fat is broken down. Simply put, as leptin levels rise, appetite is reduced and metabolism is increased.
Components of a modern lifestyle – like fast food, little exercise, lack of sleep and too much stress – can contribute to leptin resistance. Simple changes like a healthier diet, more exercise and stress-reducing activities can increase amounts of leptin in the body and boost fat loss.
CCK (cholecystokinin) – The presence of fat and protein in the stomach promotes the release of cholecystokinin – higher levels can be found in the blood a mere 15 minutes after beginning a meal. This hormone, therefore, appears to signal the sensation of fullness to the brain during - rather than between - meals. Cholecystokinin stimulates production of bile in the liver and releases fluid and enzymes from the pancreas – both of which help in the breakdown of fat.
Irisin – Recent studies show that this important hormone converts dangerous “white” fat into healthier “brown” fat. Also, because brown fat boosts the metabolism, the more brown fat we have, the less white fat is apt to build up in the body.
Irisin levels also appear to rise with exercise. Mice exposed to three weeks of free-wheel running experienced an increase in irisin of 65%. The effect in humans was not as good but still significant. Following ten weeks of supervised endurance activity, irisin levels rose by 50%.
Because this cycle of healthy changes can ultimately result in reduced insulin resistance, irisin may also prove to be important in the treatment of Type-2 diabetes.
Insulin – Insulin is an important hormone because it stores nutrients from foods after a meal. High levels of carbohydrates in the diet can increase insulin which results in more fat. The best way to ensure low insulin levels is not eating at all (which isn’t healthy) or by eating foods with a low glycemic index (those that don’t raise insulin levels).
Even foods that some think are healthy – like brown rice or sweet potatoes – can spike insulin levels. Look for lower-carbohydrate choices like quinoa or squash – these provide for a lower, more controlled release of insulin. It goes without saying that any type of sweets would raise insulin in the body, but it may surprise you to know that artificial sweeteners (found in diet sodas and other products) also raise insulin and the tendency to pack on more body fat.
To reset your hormones for fat loss, make good lifestyle choices. Limit the consumption of grains and starches in the diet, and eat mostly vegetables and a little fruit for carbohydrates. Also, get plenty of exercise and sleep, and take advantage of activities that reduce stress like meditation, yoga or quiet reading.