Hormonal balance for fat burning regulation
It is indeed okay to use the general equation of calories-in to calories-out to expect how much fat we are going to burn in return. But, it is not the whole picture. There are additional factors to consider. Are we indeed going to burn fat? or actually, we will synthesize protein to energy? Did we give our bodies all that is required? Sleep? Nutrition? active time? at the right time and manner? those will define the chemical balance in our body. In other words, those will affect the hormonal balance, that will influence back our own self-decisions of food and sleep and training.
Let’s shortly overview these delicate processes of hormonal balance which impact fat burning. And, see what are the hormones which influence this process.
What are hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers that impact the way your cells and organs function. Hormonal balance means that there is chemical balance in a way that the body behaves and function to its optimum. Different hormonal imbalances impact different processes in the body. There are many factors that impact the hormonal balance. Sleep, illnesses, medications, women’s period and, nutrition. In this context of fat burning, the hormones are responsible for the metabolism process and will define how in actual the metabolism will work. Controlling the required hormones can yield for optimum metabolism. Hormones, and calories together, in the right time and balance, will define if the nutrition we have will use for instant energy for body functionality, for building muscles, for body and brain maintainance or for energy storage, as fat.
The fat-regulating hormones
Leptin tells the brain that you ate enough. It also regulates metabolism and ping for burning more fat when needs to. It means, that for fat loss, we will be happy to have high leptin levels. This hormone is highly affected by sleep time and duration. Also, not training enough, eating too many processed food and too much stress.
the body needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night, on average, to maintain higher levels of leptin.
Thermogenesis is the process in which the body makes heat, mainly in the muscles, while using calories to have available energy for the required functions. Leptin cab substantially increase thermogenesis, helping burn fat.
Ghrelin – The hunger hormone
Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced and released mainly by the stomach with small amounts also released by the small intestine, pancreas, and brain. It has many functions. One of them is appetite stimulation. It increases the desire for food intake and promotes fat storage.
Levels of ghrelin in the blood rise just before eating and when fasting and, is affected by our meal routine. Level of ghrelin increase when fasting. Also, people with higher body weight likely to have higher levels of ghrelin hormone.
Ghrelin levels increase after dieting. This is part of the reason why trying to lose weight by limiting food intake can be difficult to maintain.
It is important to maintain an orderly meal plan, as it can help by keeping ghrelin levels low.
It is important to have enough sleep, as it impact ghrelin levels as well.
People with extreme obesity, that go for gastric bypass surgery found to have lower levels of ghrelin, as it mostly produced by the stomach. Which can explain the relatively high success rate for people who pass this surgery.
Another anti-inflammatory hormone that has a role in the blood sugar and fat burning. Also adiponectin is affected by sleep!
When having intense exercise, this hormone will increase the metabolism, increasing the rate of which the body burns fat. This is also a link between active lifestyle and hard training and controlling the levels of insulin.
Insulin and Glucagon
Keeping blood sugar at a moderate level is essential as well to the fat burning process. Both Insulin and Glucagon are produced in the pancreas. But, those two hormones are actually antagonists.
The job of insulin is to lower your blood sugar by shuttling glucose into the muscles and liver as a source of energy. When glucose is present in your bloodstream, insulin blocks access to your body’s fat reserves. Insulin also causes the body to store excess glucose as fat.
Glucagon can actually raise your blood sugar by converting glycerol in your fat cells into glucose for fuel. This hormone also signals the fat cells to release free fatty acids and signals the body to release stored fat to be used as fuel.
Imbalance between the two , with higher insulin and lower glucagon, can yield for storing body fat. Higher level of glucagon will support fat loss.
If we want to burn fat, we need to keep blood sugar levels and insulin low, as it stimulates synthesis of energy through fat and not through a stream of sugar from your food. This is part of why it is important to be aware and monitor food’s Glycemic Index.
In order to stimulate more glucagon, we need to reduce carbohydrates intake, and prefer protein rich diet.
Also, protein digestion takes longer and helps to feel fullness for a longer time.
Cortisol is the stress hormone. Continuous , chronically having stress will bring cortisol to higher levels. This will results in stimulation of fat storage and muscles breakdown. It is also proved that bad sleep will yield higher levels of cortisol as it causes for higher stress and impacts cognitive and metabolic processes.
Higher cortisol levels are not always a bad thing, of course. Like when there is instant need for caution, stress, cognitive and body readiness, and while exercises. It is also an anti-inflammatory hormone. So it is good for emergencies, but not for long periods as it promotes higher sugar levels and fat storage. There are also indications cortisol supports belly fat specifically. cortisol also causes for synthesis of protein to glucose, hence, the damage is even higher.
In order to reduce cortisol levels, we need to:
Reduce stress; longer relaxations- vacations, yoga, nice cozy barbecue with friends, and any other activity that reduce stress.
follow healthy diet
Do more workout- training that will stimulate improvement of fitness level, like High-Intensity Intervals, and improving Vo2max, will result in higher efficiency of the breath system and energy synthesis. This will impact the hormones levels in rest periods as well.
Also highly impacted by sleep, this Human Growth Hormone (HGH) has a great role in metabolism and fat burn, as it aids for muscles synthesis and repair, boosts energy and improve fat metabolism. Light sleeps have negative effect on the level of the growth hormone. deep sleep stage is a crucial period of the sleep to maintain high levels of HGH and, metabolism.
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