There are always people you'll meet you are training hard, eating right, and not losing body fat. What's going on? It's confusing, really hard to manage, and very stressful for people.
My time in the fat loss game has been very enlightening.
There is SO MUCH more to losing body fat and keeping it off than just calories in versus calories out. The effect that other aspects of our life have on our weight is huge.
In fact, calories in versus calories out is almost a moot point now, I'll end up spending time talking about stress, sleep, mental well being, type of training and effect on hormones, AND there is that word........ HORMONES!
Read on, here is some info that may well unlock your fat loss potential.....
What is a hormone?
They are just chemical messengers, created in our endocrine glands (think pancreas, hypothalamus, pituitary gland etc) , that control bodily processes. They are crucial to our existence and generally help us out a lot - but if things are out of balance and our hormones are out of whack - life can get tough for us.
I'll give a rundown here of some of the major hormones that influence our fat loss and health, and some tips that should be handy for you.
Insulin - this hormone is king when it comes to fat loss. Over consumption of carbohydrate will generally elevate our insulin levels. Insulin helps us 'put things away' so storage of blood sugar (into muscle cells, liver cells, brain, or turned into fat) - when insulin levels are up, we can't access surplus fat stores to burn them up, so we want to keep insulin levels moderated. We do this by eating moderately, not eating high glycaemic index carbohydrates, and eating fat and protein that help moderate for us.
Glucagon - this hormone works like an opposite of insulin, we need glucagon to help us access our fat stores. We keep our glucagon levels right by eating the right type of carbohydrates, the right amounts and at the right times.
Ghrelin - the hunger hormone. Levels increase when you are hungry. The key to this hormone is being slightly hungry, not super hungry. If you are slightly hungry, you are probably burning fat. If you are super hungry, you are in trouble because Ghrelin will take over and you'll attack anything that moves and try to eat it!!
Thyroid Hormone - this hormone was our great mate when we used to have long periods between food back in pre-historic days. Thyroid Hormone will down regulate our metabolic rate or up regulate our metabolic rate depending on how much food we are eating. This explains why drastic dieting does not work, and why we are better off working on long term sustainable eating patterns. Thyroid hormone is also linked to your rest, sleep, and stress, which explains why some people GAIN weight when stressed, and others LOSE weight when stressed. Our thyroid is working to manage our bodily processes and change our metabolism to suit. This is why people in great shape will often have very regular daily routines.
Cortisol - this hormone has become quite a big media star lately. Keeping our cortisol levels low is very important for burning fat. If it's elevated, fat loss simply stops happening. The best way to keep cortisol levels even is to sleep well, get rest, do some short vigourous bouts of training, and some long but very easy bouts of training. If you are training at moderate to hard levels every day, and living a 'normal' type of stressful life, it's very hard to manage cortisol levels.
Leptin - secreted by fat cells and tells the body how much fat we have to burn. It also influences thyroid hormone so is a key hormone in fat loss. Getting these hunger type of hormones managed really comes down to eating the right amount of food, consistently, and not changing your intake too much from week to week. Eating slowly and making sure you include fat and protein in each meal also helps with Leptin management.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) - this hormone helps us build muscle and burn fat. Optimal levels of HGH are key to success in getting your body in the condition you desire. Get your sleep right, don't train for too long, and make sure your protein intake is adequate.
Adrenalin - this hormone accelerates what the other hormones involved with fat burning do. Getting short bursts of high intensity exercise will help us get your adrenalin levels right.
Neuropeptide Y - high levels of cortisol cause this hormone to push fat cell growth. Managing this hormone is similar to cortisol - rest and sleep.
Irisin - the exercise hormone. This is released by muscle cells after exercise and helps us burn fat, feel good, and protects our muscle DNA. Very useful. We get this hormone primed by doing large muscle group exercise like squats, or anything that uses multiple joints and muscles at the same time.
Our body is very complex, and our hormones help us manage a multitude of processes to ensure our existence. Our adrenal glands and the hormones they release help our metabolism in a variety of ways, many based on the life conditions we experienced a very very long time ago. The key to managing hormones so that you can achieve what you want with your health and fitness is:
Good sleep patterns
Good rest and relaxation
A sound mental state
Smart Training that is helping, not damaging the body