Our understanding of calories in, calories out has been way oversimplified over the years. Weigh is much more than the number of calories we ingest in a day and how much we burn.
The recommendation of eat less and move more has been fraught with disappointment and failure. If you ask many who tried to simply reduce calories to lose weight, they will tell you it didn’t work, was difficult or worse, backfired and they actually gained more weight.
A rarely discussed hormonal system is involved in human weight beyond the calorie. There are four hormones involved -one set is involved in storing and burning fat the other set make us hungry or full.
Insulin is the storage hormone.
Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas that moves glucose into the cell for energy. When there is excess glucose, from eating too much and too often, the body will continue to raise insulin to help manage the excess glucose.
This excess glucose comes from carbohydrate, sugar, and to a lesser extent protein in our diet.
The problem with too much insulin and glucose is that the body can only handle so much of each and insulin stops responding to the glucose.
The insulin story of weight gain. Once the cells become filled with glucose, the body will look elsewhere to store the extra calories. The next place is in the liver.
Stored glucose in the liver becomes glycogen. If excess glucose continues to be pushed into the liver, a condition called fatty liver occurs. This will increase triglycerides and liver enzymes, and cause disturbance of cholesterol. Fatty liver leads to cirrhosis and is a leading cause for a liver transplant.
Once the liver is full of glucose, the next place insulin will look to store the excess calorie is the belly. All the belly fat is calories stored as fat. Belly fat is particularly dangerous as a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and 12 different cancers caused by obesity.
As the belly is filling with excess calories, the pancreas is next. Causing it to release more insulin, to store more calories and eventually burning out the pancreas from creating insulin all together. Creating a condition called diabetes. Diabetes leads to heart disease, blindness, and amputation.
The scenario above is the making of type 2 diabetes. Too much insulin is caused by too much glucose. What we eat and how much we eat affect this hormone and the higher it goes the more weight we store.
Glucagon has the opposite function of insulin.
It, too, is produced in the pancreas. Glucagon liberates fat from storage and burns it as fuel. Glucagon only works when insulin is low. Insulin is low when glucose is low. This happens when we are not eating and snacking.
If our body senses constant nutrients in the blood, glucagon never sees the light of day. Fat is not burned. Instead, insulin continues to store calories as fat. We have to go without food to have glucagon turn on and start to burn fat. That usually takes about 12 hours.
Ghrelin is another hormone, produced in the intestinal tract. It tells us when we are hungry. It is something that we can consciously push past. Unintuitively, studies show that different forms of fasting can lower ghrelin and reduce hunger.
If hunger forces us to eat more and the food that we choose is refined carbs and sugar then the insulin hormone system gets revved up and fat storage ensues.
The balancing hormone to ghrelin is another hormone called leptin, released by fat cells signal to the brain that we are satisfied and lower our hunger levels. This helps us stop eating.
Like other hormones in the body, these can and often go off track fueling the weight gain, weight loss roller coaster for many until it finally breaks down in middle age and we have a harder and harder time losing weight.
Some solutions include reducing sugar and simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes, and sweets. Low carb, high-fat diets are showing promise at putting diabetes into complete remission and leading to weight loss.
Other strategies like intermittent fasting can help bring these hormones into balance, lowering both insulin and glucose.
Contrary to popular belief, different forms of fasting have been shown in pre-clinical and clinical trials, to reduce glucose, insulin, inflammation, and help with weight loss.
Diet and lifestyle can cause hormones to malfunction causing weight to increase beyond calories in calories out. Simple and effective diet and lifestyle modifications can make a big impact on health.
Mark Testa, DC, CAC, MHA.
Mark Testa is an experienced holistic healthcare provider trained in chiropractic, acupuncture, nutrition, and fasting. He uses his experience to help people regain, maintain, and accelerate their health in weeks, not months. His focus is simple, sustainable change for lasting results. Reversing middle age is possible with just a few small changes.
Tru Barre Studio has partnered with Dr. Mark Testa and we are offering a 6-week course –
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