Finally! How Do Hormones Really Affect Fat?
There are a hundred million cars on the roads in the United States. Traffic generally moves along very well, as long as everyone obeys the rules. Signs on the side of the road tell us what to do in specific situations so there are few accidents and we all can get to our destinations.
We have over a hundred trillion cells in our body, and each is a separate entity. What makes the body work is every one of those cells working together, they all follow the directions given to them. They get these directions from hormones. Hormones are signaling chemicals that communicate what is going on in the body. There are thousands of hormones, many of which have multiple functions, so I’m not going to talk about all of them. I’m going to focus on those hormones that affect the metabolism, or energy production. Some of these you have surely heard about:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Adrenal hormones come from two little glands situated on top of each kidney. Although small, these glands are very important. They give us our sleep-wake cycles and keep everything in line with the metabolism. They get you started in the morning and put you down at night. They also have a lot to do with fat storage. Cortisol is the major metabolic hormone from the adrenal glands. The effects of this hormone on fat include:
- Long-term elevations of cortisol
- Cortisol coupled with insulin
- Rapid/short elevations of cortisol
- Cortisol coupled with adrenaline or HGH
Stress causes us to make more of this hormone. Positive stress can help build muscle and decrease fat by being coupled with HGH. Negative stress, or long-term stress, coupled with insulin causes a loss of muscle and increase in fat. If you think about it, the very things people do when they are stressed may worsen their situation. Cortisol causes us to crave sugar and starch, which increase insulin, causing more gain of fat. So, eating chocolate when stressed is exactly the wrong thing to do – if you don’t want to gain weight.
Positive stress increases the good effects of cortisol on fat. Positive stress is when you are in control of the stress you have, such as:
- Helping others
- Writing a book
- Starting a business
- Raising a family
Whenever we are improving, we are stressed. That’s why life is hard. However, when we choose our stress, accept it, and love it, we are in positive stress mode. That increases our growth hormones and we actually build our bodies and reduce fat storage. Negative stress is when we don’t choose, when the choice is forced on us from the outside, and we feel loss, depressed, or trapped.
Negative stress changes the effects of cortisol, these include:
- Trauma or injury
- Death of a loved-one
- Dead-end job
- Lack of money
If you are in control, even things that would be negative stressors can turn positive. Taking time for meditation, prayer, sleep, and a hobby help keep you in control.
It’s also important to have a regular sleep time to help manage cortisol and improve the ratios of adrenal hormones. Go to bed at 10:00pm and get up around 6:00am. Such a schedule works with your natural circadian rhythm created by cortisol release.
Supplements and herbs that can help are the “adaptogens.” Ginseng has been around for centuries and can be found in many forms including pills, teas, and drinks. One of the best-studied herbs is ashwagandha, which helps the glands adapt to stress. There are other herbs that may be helpful as well. Take these according to the label, as the dose depends on the preparation. One other useful stress-reliever is phosphatidylserine (PS), which lowers the cortisol during stress.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) 100mg twice per day
DHEA is the counterbalance of cortisol. This hormone is an “androgen,” which is related to testosterone. Thus, it is an anabolic hormone, which means it builds the body. While cortisol causes insulin resistance and diabetes, DHEA lowers insulin resistance. Thus, DHEA can help prevent abdominal fat and diabetes. It also, like testosterone, improves muscle mass, and therefore strength and stamina. It may have some effect on mental focus and drive, but this is variable.
DHEA is found in health-food stores over-the-counter. It is a good idea to have this level tested (use the DHEA test) to see if you need any. Because it is an androgen, women take less than men. A starting dose might be:
Women: 5mg per day
Men: 25mg per day
The hormone that causes your heart to race and your blood pressure to go up when you have a scare is also one that can help you burn fat. Adrenaline causes more fat to be mobilized to increase the energy supply for the muscles and brain in a dangerous situation. You can use this to your advantage by making your adrenal glands produce more without having to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, ride 3.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu, or go spelunking with a torch. You can do this in the safety of your own home!
Interval training is a good way to release the adrenaline you want in a controlled way, so you don’t get any of the negative effects. It looks like this:
Sprint – 8 SECONDS (yes, that’s only 8 seconds) and then light exercise for 12 seconds, repeating this sequence for 20 minutes three times per week. That’s all it takes. You can do any other form of exercise on other days or at other times, but this is the way to allow your adrenaline help you burn fat.
A “sprint” is where you go all-out and give the exercise all you have. If you are on a bicycle, you pump hard, like up a hill, for 8 seconds, followed by easy cycling (not resting or stopping), like on a flat surface, for 12 seconds. This can be done with other exercises such as running, weightlifting, or even push-ups and sit-ups. The best exercise to use is the one you like, so you will be motivated to continue.
To allow ADRENALINE to help you, exercise 3 times per week for 20 minutes:
- 8 seconds of sprinting
- 12 seconds of light exercise
The “food pyramid” has the primary effect on insulin production. Since the 1970s, when the “low fat, high carbohydrate” craze began, our entire population has only become more and more obese. Much of this is due to insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas in the following situations:
- When we eat
- When we eat any carbohydrates
- When we eat anything sweet
Insulin causes the body to store more fat. It allows fat to be produced from our carbohydrates for storage. It also blocks the body’s ability to use fat for energy. Thus, people with high insulin levels can get “hypoglycemia” very easily, and will crave carbohydrates.
- Increases fat storage, especially in the abdomen.
- Decreases fat use.
- Causes carbohydrate and sweet craving.
Interestingly, increasing insulin doesn’t require us to eat any calories. People who drink diet drinks with no calories at all gain more weight on the same diet than those who have drinks with sugar.[i]This happens because the taste of sweet causes us to release insulin. We want less insulin so we can use fat normally.
In order to decrease insulin, we could:
- Eat fewer times in a day. 1-2 meals is better than 2-3 meals, which is better than 4-5 meals.
- Avoid snacks, drink only water between meals.
- Avoid simple sugars and starches by eating them only occasionally.
- Avoid things that taste sweet, especially artificial sweeteners.
The opposite of insulin is glucagon. While insulin causes us to store energy, glucagon causes the release of energy. When insulin goes up, glucagon goes down, and vice-versa. In order to burn fat, we want more glucagon.
Glucagon is released when we fast, and when we eat protein without carbohydrates. This is important because when we eat sugar or starch with protein, such as meat and potatoes, we get insulin more than glucagon.
To increase glucagon
- Fast periodically, 2 days per week, or 5 days per month – in a row.
- Don’t mix sugar and starch (potatoes, bread, corn, pasta, rice) with protein (meat, eggs, fish, cheese).
When people feel like they’re gaining weight and feel slow and sluggish they often go to the doctor to have their thyroid checked. The doctor does a single test, TSH, and tells the person, “your test is normal,” as if to say it can’t be the thyroid.
Thyroid hormone is very long-acting. It generally goes up in the winter to increase energy production and fat use, and lower in the summer to decrease heat and store more fat for the winter.
People with low thyroid have a very hard time burning fat, even on a diet. In fact, low calorie diets and aerobic exercise may actually lower thyroid hormone levels.
There are several ways to improve thyroid function naturally:
- Interval exercise (like what we use to increase adrenaline – see above)
- Periodic fasting for short periods (one to three days)
- Iodine 50mg once per week
- Selenium 400mcg once per week
- Zinc 50mg once per week
Human Growth Hormone affects the fat indirectly. What’s really interesting about this hormone is that it doesn’t do anything for those who aren’t deficient. In fact, it causes us to make a hormone like insulin which causes damage to the body.
The perfect way to get HGH is:
- Sleep by 10pm
This can be taken as a general outline, but the fact is, hormones affect different people in different ways because of all of the other factors that are involved:
- Levels of other hormones
- Nutrition status
- Genetic variations
- …and so forth
You can use this knowledge to your advantage so you can be healthy and either store fat or lose it in the way you want.
- Increases fat when coupled with insulin
- Causes cravings, hunger
- Decreases fat when coupled with HGH or adrenaline
- Burns fat
- Decreases hunger
- Lowers insulin
- Increases fat storage, mostly in the abdomen
- Prevents fat from being used for energy
- Increases fat burning
- Increases lean muscle and decreases fat in those who are deficient
- Increases fat use by increasing metabolism
Prescription For Hormone Balance:
- Lower stress by using positive stressors:
- Learn a new language, or how to paint with oils and so forth
- Grow in every way
- Help others improve their lives
- Prayer, meditation
- Exercise three times per week using 8-second sprints with 12-second rests
- Eat only whole, organic foods
- Take the following supplements:
- Iodine – 12.5mg per day for 90 days, then one per week
- Selenium – 200mcg per day for 90 days, then one per week
- Zinc – 25mg per day for 90 days, then one per week
- Fast one day per month for about 24 hours (you may drink water)
- Don’t mix sugar/starch with protein
- Drink only water between meals
- Eat 2 or 3 meals per day, no snacks
- Avoid sweets
It’s a long list, but, then again, these things will affect all of your metabolic hormones, and allow you to continue to live a normal life without constantly fighting with your fat!