It seems most everyone is looking to lose some weight (namely fat), but with all the conflicting information out there it just gets more and more confusing for the average person to know what to do? Let’s back it up a little and start from the basic understand of how fat loss happens in a simple and easy manner. Once you can master the basics, that is probably 90% of where all your results will come from!
While there does have to be some calorie deficit of course (burn more than you take in), your hormones are the internal signals on whether fat is being released or stored (and will do so reacting to calorie intake as well).
So when it comes down to it, fat loss is a mainly a hormonal event. The right hormones telling the body to release the stored “energy” in the fat cells to burn off. It is also important to know that there are also fat “storing” hormones that act in the opposite way, triggering the body to store “future energy” into the fat cells. The body triggers these hormones through many different stimulus like food, drink, exercise, stress (perceived) and sleep.
Fat cells are more like the body’s emergency storage tanks afterall (storing fuel in case we need it later on to survive). If we didn’t have fat cells, we wouldn’t have survived the famines of the past. It’s a built-in survival mechanism that is unfortunately getting all the wrong signals today. The body wasn’t designed around constant intake of food, especially the processed and high in sugar kind.
So we know that fat loss is hormonally driven (and yes I understand eating less is also a factor, but that drives the hormones involved as well).
Interesting fact, fat loss (burning) also occurs when oxygen is present, what is known as aerobic (which means “with oxygen”). The other stage is called anaerobic (which means “without oxygen”). Anaerobic training is also known more commonly as “strength training” (which you can tell by the lactic acid burn).
Here’s where people get confused when it comes to exercise. Most people think that by “doing” aerobics exercise you burn all the fat you want. Well if that was the case, obesity would of been taken care of in 1986 and your gym aerobic instructors wouldn’t have an average BF% over 25%. Who ever said you are guaranteed to burn fat? What about stored glycogen? Plus if you can burn fat in an aerobic state, well aren’t you in an aerobic state all day long (minus brief times of anaerobic activity) including sleeping??
So here’s the breakthrough, you have the ability to burn fat (mostly) all day long! The only thing left is the hormones and whether they are saying “empty the storage tanks” or “here comes some more” to the fat cells.
The Fat loss hormones were are going to focus on briefly are insulin, glucagon, and growth hormone (GH). Insulin is primarily known as a fat storing hormone (as it reacts to high blood sugar and looks to store it somewhere…namely fat cells).
Glucagon and GH are more fat releasing (and in a sense “burning”) hormones.
If insulin is present and elevated, the other fat releasing hormones (GH and glucagon) go down. This is an important inverse relationship to realize.
Another hormone that comes into play is called cortisol (commonly known as a stress hormone, but technically more a blood sugar hormone), which can also lead to excessive muscle breakdown for fuel. Not something we want in our fat loss quest to keep our metabolism strong.
Below are some quick and easy bullet point on how to maximize the fat burning hormones and minimize the muscle breakdown/fat storing hormones (don’t think all muscle breakdown is bad, it’s when you have excessive breakdown and minimal rebuilding that is the issue and leads to a loss of muscle).
So if you can master these small steps, you will see tremendous changes. Remember that fat burning/loss can be an all day event! So eat and live your life that way! Don’t worry about how many calories you burn doing something, because that is not the point. Worry about what you eat all day and how your hormones are going to react to it. Eat the foods your body was meant to eat and live the active lifestyle your body was designed for…and you will have increased health, look great, feel great and hopefully live long and stay active.