3 Ways to Activate AMPK and Boost Your Metabolism
What do we do when we find a very important chemical in the body that performs many essential functions that are indispensable? Well, we market it, of course. A drug company will find a drug to stimulate it or block it, or a vitamin company will find a way to do the same. This is how “money makes the world go ‘round.”
There is a great deal of hype surrounding each discovery of a new chemical of the body. They are sold as miracle healing supplements such as:
- Nicotinamide (NAD)
- …and countless others
You can be reasonably skeptical of all supplements. It’s not that these are not important, they seriously are, but we rarely have a deficiency of any of them. There is a better way to improve the function of the body without adding another pill, or two, or three… This is exactly what I will explain about AMPK.
AMPK is an enzyme that adds a phosphate to certain proteins to turn them on or off. To look at this protein in two-dimensions is staggering: (red is “off” and green is “on”)
As you can see, this is not a small protein with few effects. Now, if we were to blow up what each of the other proteins, DNA and RNA does, we could not put it in one book. Thus, AMPK is a big player in the metabolism of every body. No wonder it has become such a darling of the body-hackers!
When there is a lack of energy in the cells, an enzyme called AMPK is made, which induces:
- Energy conservation
- Use of stored materials
- Use of fat
- Decreased glucose in muscles
- Increased glucose in brain
- Turns protein into sugar
- Makes more mitochondria (the power plant of cells)
So, now that we know what it is, and what it does, we can find ways to improve the function of the body. The body is a most miraculous machine. There are redundant systems to keep everything working well.
AMPK stands for AMP-dependent Protein Kinase. Like ashes left after a fire, AMP is what is left over when energy is made in the cells. If there is a lot of AMP, either it means you are using up energy too fast, or not making it fast enough. So, AMPK senses the excess AMP and goes to work to make your body efficient, making more energy in all the ways listed above.
AMPK is activated by:
- Low blood sugar
- Lack of oxygen
- Mitochondrial toxins
None of these are great things that you want around. For example, low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, often causes fatigue, headache, weakness, nausea, and dizziness. Low oxygen can be deadly, such as in diseases like congestive heart failure, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Mitochondrial toxins, such as lead, mercury, carbon monoxide and other poisons can also cause death and disability.
However, there are safe and natural ways to induce AMPK and improve function of all your cells. This is, ironically, using the same mechanisms as the undesirable things above.
- HYPOGLYCEMIA: Low blood sugar can be safely achieved simply by fasting. When we stop eating, blood sugar goes down, causing mitochondria to make less energy which is the safe way to produce AMPK. It is very hard to write in one little paper all benefits from fasting. This is just one small part.
- HYPOXIA: Low oxygen can be safely and easily done with exercise. Every time you work out enough to get “winded” where you are doing “anaerobic respiration” you have a low oxygen level, inducing AMPK. This means the ideal exercise is “interval training” where exercise is done to your limit in short bursts.
- TOXINS: METFORMIN, a medication commonly used for diabetes, is a mitochondrial toxin that induces AMPK.  It also decreases the risk of cancer because it causes the body to get rid of abnormal cells (autophagy).  But because of its toxic effects on the liver and muscles, many want to avoid it. There are safer alternatives. One herb, Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (actiponin), is marketed as an AMPK inducer. It has been shown to help people lose weight as it has the same effects as metformin. Another herb, berberine also induces AMPK and it seems to have all the benefits of metformin with none of the risks. 
All this makes it easy to decide: you WANT AMPK!
It makes your body:
- Energy efficient
- Prevent cancer
- Reduce sugar
- Lower weight
- Cleanse and detox
- Burn fat
- Increase mitochondria (energy)
Since these are GOOD things, do you run out to the store and buy a pill to induce AMPK? There is a better way.