If you’re trying to lose weight, fat loss is really what it’s all about. Because I’m pretty certain you’re not interested in losing muscle or bone mass. Am I right?
Then you’ll be happy to know there are specific fat burning hormones that you have the power to ignite. Without spending countless hours in the gym or surviving solely on baked chicken breast and steamed broccoli.
I’m talking about hormones that trigger your body to break down stored fat into free fatty acids (lipolysis). And promote the use of these fatty acids in the energy making process.
I’m also talking about hormones that promote muscle growth. Muscle cells require more energy than less metabolically active cells. Thus, the more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn.
So without further ado, let’s meet your fat burning hormones…
Human Growth Hormone
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland at the base of your brain. Its key role is to promote cellular growth and repair. But, it also plays a role in fat metabolism and body composition.
In fact, HGH does it all! It facilitates lipolysis, promotes the utilization of free fatty acids, and stimulates muscle growth.
Unfortunately, your body naturally begins to secrete less HGH as you age. And many studies have shown that a deficiency in HGH can lead to the accumulation of body fat as well as many other negative health consequences.
On the other hand, raising HGH levels in adults with an HGH deficiency has been shown to reduce body fat, especially in the abdomen.
HIIT is an exercise regime that entails short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of recovery at lower intensity or rest. Mounting evidence suggests that HIIT is one of the most effective workouts to burn body fat.
HIIT increases your HGH levels, but it also works by:
- Boosting your adrenaline (another fat burning hormone)
- Increasing your metabolic activity up 24 hours post-workout
- Increasing your insulin sensitivity
- Suppressing your appetite after the workout
And what I love just as much is:
- You can do it anywhere (even outdoors)
- It doesn’t require any special equipment
- Results are possible in as little as 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week
Mini-fasting means for 1 or 2 days a week, you take a break from eating. The rest of the time, you follow basic eating guidelines you already know: eat healthy fats, lean proteins, veggies, and some fruit. And, avoid processed food, of course.
- You’ll take in fewer calories. And fewer calories = weight loss.
- It’s extremely efficient. Lipolysis begins very soon after you start your fast. As soon as your body finishes digesting its last meal.
Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1
Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) is a protein with a similar structure to insulin. It’s primarily synthesized and secreted by the liver when HGH is released into the bloodstream. Thus, when HGH decreases, so does IGF-1.
IGF-1 plays a large role in stimulating growth. Partly by influencing the action of HGH.
While IGF-1 doesn’t directly impact lipolysis, it does promote the use of fatty acids for energy production in skeletal muscle. And as an added bonus, the presence of IGF-1 prevents the body from storing fat.
In this study, IGF-1 deficient individuals had less body fat and more muscle mass after 8 weeks of supplemental IGF-1. Eights weeks of supplemental HGH also produced similar results.
Increasing IGF-1 requires boosting HGH. Thus, HIIT and mini-fasting are both excellent strategies for this purpose.
Your pancreas secretes glucagon when your blood glucose levels are low. Essentially, glucagon stimulates lipolysis to generate fuel in the absence of food.
In addition, this paper found that a short burst of glucagon is released in response to eating. The researchers believe it then sends a signal to the brain via the vagus nerve to prevent overeating.
The authors also point out that intravenous injections of glucagon during meals have been shown to reduce food intake.
And the benefits don’t stop there! This animal study found that glucagon not only promotes lipolysis, but it also prevents fat from being stored in the first place.
So can you guess what’s best for increasing your glucagon levels?
Mini-fasting! Are you starting to see a pattern?
Mini-fasting lowers blood glucose levels, which then causes glucagon to be secreted.
Your thyroid gland, located in your neck just below your Adam’s apple, is responsible for making and secreting your thyroid hormones. And we know that they play a significant role in your metabolism as well as many other systems in your body.
In fact, almost every cell in your body has receptor sites for thyroid hormones, including fat cells.
Thus, when it comes to burning fat, thyroid hormones mobilize free fatty acids and enhance their utilization in the energy making process.
This helps explain why individuals with low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroid) are often overweight and have difficulty losing fat. And why individuals with high thyroid hormone levels (hyperthyroid) often experience unwanted weight loss.
This study found that dieters with high baseline levels of thyroid hormones experienced significantly better weight loss results during their first 6 months on the diet. These researchers also found that increased thyroid hormone levels led to a reduction in body fat among other positive outcomes.
Two key nutrients for optimal thyroid health include iodine and selenium. Sea vegetables, such as nori, kelp, wakame, and kombu are excellent sources of iodine. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium. And 2 a day is all you’ll need.
It’s also important to avoid exposure to heavy metals, mold, and chemicals, including pesticides and those found in personal care products and household cleaners. These toxins can negatively impact the health of your thyroid.
And don’t forget to exercise!
Your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, secrete adrenaline in response to stress. It’s one of the ways your body prepares itself to flee or fight.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate to improve circulation. It increases your breathing to pull more oxygen into your lungs. And it releases fuel in the form of glucose and fatty acids from storage so that your muscles have the energy they need to deal with the threat at hand.
Now I would never recommend adding more stress to your life to boost adrenaline. But, I am a big fan of HIIT workouts for this purpose.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that men naturally produce more than women. It’s what gives men their sex characteristics.
Low testosterone has repeatedly been linked to abdominal obesity, especially in men. And studies have found that raising testosterone levels in obese men is an effective strategy for reducing body fat.
In these cases, researchers suggest that testosterone boosts energy production as well as motivation and vigor.
Testosterone is also essential for building new muscle cells (tiny fat burning machines) whether you’re a man or a woman.
The researchers also found that dietary fat intake, including saturated fat, had a positive correlation with resting testosterone levels. This is just one of the many reasons why I don’t recommend avoiding fat completely.
But stick to healthy fats, such as coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, and butter or ghee from grass-fed cows.
To Sum it Up…
Your body produces several hormones that can help you achieve your weight loss goals. But first, you need to unleash them.
But before I sign off, it’s worth mentioning a few other factors you should consider when it comes to igniting your fat burning hormones.
- Make sleep a priority. The pituitary gland naturally secretes HGH during deep sleep. And it’s also when the body repairs itself and builds new muscle tissue.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider meditation, mindfulness, and spending time in nature. Chronic stress works against your body’s fat burning mechanisms.
- Always choose nutrient-rich, whole foods over processed foods. Your body needs a variety of nutrients to synthesize your fat burning hormones. And it also needs nutrients to mobilize and burn fat.