When it comes to diet, nutrition and fat loss the majority portion of this conversation in books, on blogs and in podcasts comes down to diet. This diet, that diet, this fad, that fad. Exercise too. Do this exercise, go do cross-fit, go for runs. Everyone has their diet advice, their fitness advice and their special way to lose fat, but are there any consistent truths that work long-term to any of these ideas?
Diet and nutrition are vitally important, I agree 100%. But everyone has a different diet book that tells you to do different things than the last diet book, and the next diet book says something completely different. One diet fad tells you to eat more carbs, one tells you to eat less. One tells you to eat more protein, while another says avoid protein and eat mostly fruit. I can tell you from my research that there is no perfect fat loss diet for everyone.
No one has the same genes, digestive system and reaction to food. We all have unique gut biodiversity. This means that each of us would have a completely different diet on that fat loss journey than everyone else. This is not advantageous for you to know to the weight loss market as a whole. Why? Because the weight loss drugs, supplements, books, programs and centers would not do nearly as well if people didn’t subscribe to that single idea and train of thought.
With that being said, the information you’re going to understand today is going to empower you to understand hormones and their role in storing or burning fat. Hormones are simply chemical messengers within the human body. These hormones will increase or decrease (in production) in the human body based on a variety of factors such as diet, stress, sleep and exercise. With that being said, if you understand these hormones and which hormones need to be optimized to burn fat you can take the appropriate action within any of the 4 categories above in order to see results for you.
Only you will know what changes need to be made. By reading and understanding these hormones and their correlation to burning fat or storing it will give you clarity and insight into what direction you need to move in from here.
With that being said, let’s dig into what hormones burn fat and what hormones store fat and how to shift these hormonal levels within your body specifically (based on where you’re at) so that you can burn fat in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner by integrating these practices into your lifestyle.
The Fat Storing Hormones:
- Cortisol: This is often known as the stress hormone. When you’re stressed cortisol levels elevate. This hormone tells the body that “Everything is hectic outside, store fat as protection in case of a food shortage.” This is exactly what your body does. Cortisol stores fat in order to preserve your livelihood. Think of this as the caveman hormone. This was needed at one time to keep our bodies alive during really difficult times. It’s not needed in elevated levels so much anymore though.
What causes elevated cortisol levels?
Stress. This could come from being stressed at the office, being stressed from finances, relationships or any other stressor. One common misunderstanding about cortisol is that over-exertion WILL increase cortisol levels. You can put your body into a state of high stress if you work out too intensely, especially if you’re deficient in nutrients that support your body enough to be in a state of high exertion. What’s the conclusion? Be peaceful in life. Turn stressors off, avoid stress. Take a hot bath, get a massage, and take time to meditate, journal and get plenty of antioxidants in your diet. An adequate night of rest is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Don’t over-exert yourself when it comes to exercise and make sure to start living in a state of zen more and more each day. Need ideas and ways to reduce stress? Here are 50 proven ways, that should be more than enough to give you more than a few ideas.
2. Insulin: Often thought of only in importance to diabetics, this hormone plays many roles in the body and is of definite importance when it comes to burning fat and improving health. Diabetics become resistant to this hormone over time which decreases insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity simply means that your body is sensitive to and uses insulin efficiently, this is a good thing. If your body is resistant to insulin then it will increase the production of this hormone dramatically because it thinks it needs more. The real issue is, it’s not being utilized by the body.
What factors affect insulin resistance and sensitivity?
Simple, sugar is the first one. The more sugar you eat the more insulin your body produces. If you become too dependent on sugar (it is an addiction, to understand that further read this article) then your body will become less effective with it’s use of insulin. This leads to insulin resistance. The increase in insulin in your body will store more fat. Another factor that affects insulin by decreasing insulin sensitivity (which is not good for fat loss) was chronic sleep loss. Make sure that you get enough sleep and that you avoid eating excess amounts of sugar, or just begin to cut it out of your diet for the most part. That would be best if you really want to burn fat faster.
The Fat Burning Hormones:
- Growth Hormone: Growth hormone is a hormone for a fountain of youth. This is a hormone that lowers as you age! Unless that is, you take action to keep your GH levels high. This is an important hormone that is most likely lower than it should be if you have excess body fat. This hormone helps maintain a healthy and regular metabolism which is vital in your journey to a healthy weight.How can you increase growth hormone levels?
Enough sleep! Once again this is a factor in healthy fat loss and hormone maintenance which aids in healthy fat burning capacity by the body. Healthy levels of movement and exercise help keep the growth hormone levels healthy. Lower blood glucose levels also help the body in it’s growth hormone levels. By reducing your sugar intake you’re optimizing and harmonizing both insulin and growth hormones which both aid in healthy metabolism and fat loss. Growth hormone levels will not only burn fat but it will feed healthy muscle development so this hormone will help your body get sculpted better as well. Growth hormone is secreted into the body during sleep so a healthy sleep schedule and cycle benefit this hormone.2. Adiponectin: This hormone is an anti-inflammatory hormone. This is valuable because inflammation (especially in the gut) will cause fat gain over and over again and cause the pounds to compound. This hormone regulates cardiovascular health functions and also helps with fat oxidation. It’s responsible for breaking down fat. How do you increase Adiponectin?
Once again, guess what an important factor is? Getting enough sleep. Inadequate sleep reduces adiponectin. Adequate sleep improves and increases this hormone. Beyond this, eating healthy fats and foods such as olive oil, avocado, pumpkin, peanuts and chocolate are known andiponectin producing foods. Remember, fat is not bad or good, the quality of the fat (whole food vs. man mad fat) is what matters, the quality of what you eat is what determines the response of your body to the food.
Do you see any correlating factors with the fat burning and fat storing hormones? Beyond diet, nutrition and exercise? You may have noticed that sleep was a factor in every single hormone that affects fat loss or gain, Whether storing or burning fat. The next correlating factor is sugar. Sugar influences hormones and signals the body to store fat. Across the board when it comes to fat loss, sugar is a no-no.
Sleep is vitally important when it comes to fat loss though yet rarely talked about. There are 3 rules that I have for healthy sleep that you can benefit from in terms of fat hormone optimization.
1. Avoid Food & Electronics Before Bed: Food causes your body to have to digest and work in action. You want your body to be calm and relaxed before sleep, not working hard to digest food. If your body is digesting food it is taking the energy to repair and recover your body and routing it to working hard to move that food through. You want your gut and digestive system to have a break while you’re sleeping so avoid eating up to 3 hours before bedtime. Electronics with bright screens affect sleep negatively as well. The bright screen causes these light photons to enter your eye and tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime. This throws your circadian rhythm off and lowers sleep quality.
2. Be Asleep By 10: Ten o’clock is the best time to be asleep, then or before. 10 PM – 2 AM is the 4-hour window where your body get’s the most rest and physical recovery. If you’re up till 1:30 AM every night you’re missing out on the majority of the physical and hormonal benefits of sleep which will aid in your fat loss.
3. Create A Healthy Sleep Environment: Sleep in a dark, cool room. I sleep with my blinds completely closed, naked and in an environment that’s comfortable to me. Quiet, cool, relaxing and perfect. Make your bedroom a place of relaxation. Turn off little lights, rearrange your bedroom in a way that feels comfortable and relaxing. Maybe integrate some feng shui principles. It’s important to make your room feel relaxing. Environment and feel do a lot to calm your mind. I also only use himalayan salt lamps in my bedroom at night. This article explains why.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t feel like you get a good nights rest when you wake up then your hormones (which are largely regulated by sleep) will be off as well. Integrate the tips above but if that doesn’t work or if you want to really ensure you get a better nights rest and keep your fat burning hormones happy then read the article below.
Recommended Reading: Mix These 2 Things Before Bed And Never Wake Up Tired Again