If you've listened to much of the Primal Potential podcast, you understand that fat loss is very much about hormones. There are 3 hormones in particular that we can consider "the fat loss hormones". If we understand how they work and what specific choices we can make to make sure these fat loss hormones are working our favor, we're well on our way to our best health & the achievement of our goals.
We'll be talking a lot more about hormones in the next few weeks but for today I want to begin with an overview of these 3 powerhouse fat loss hormones: cortisol, leptin & insulin.
Leptin - leptin is a hormone produced by your fat cells that acts as a messenger between your body fat and your brain. When working properly, leptin works with your brain to regulate your appetite. As your body fat increases, leptin production increases and tells your body to increase metabolism and decrease appetite. As body fat decreases, leptin secretion decreases so the brain triggers an increase in appetite and decrease in metabolism. Unfortunately, leptin can quickly become disregulated with both crash dieting and weight gain, causing leptin resistance and impairing the brain's ability to receive signals from leptin.
Cortisol - cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to physical, emotional or mental stress. Cortisol's job is to prepare your body for the fight-or-flight emergency response. One of the ways it prepares your body is by making sure there is plenty of sugar (glucose) in your blood stream so you're able to escape from the threat. Unfortunately, in this day & age, the threat is often a traffic jam, losing your keys or a fight with your spouse and no escape is necessary. Sure, you might see that as a good thing, but it means you're left with unneeded sugar in your blood stream that has to be stored. Many people get frustrated with lack of fat loss results despite eating clean & managing blood sugar. They tend to overlook the stress effect. Cortisol will break down muscle glycogen or muscle tissue to provide sugar for the blood, regardless of your diet. Because of this, stress management is a critical part of fat loss.
Insulin - I'll join the ranks of those who refer to insulin as the master fat loss hormone. It's critically important. You can listen to an episode all about insulin here. The point of today's episode is to show you that caring for your carb strategy isn't enough if you want to achieve your health & fat loss potential. You can mess with insulin if you aren't caring for cortisol, which is where most people pay little to no attention. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar. Insulin's job is to usher the blood sugar out of the blood to either provide immediate fuel for cells or to be stored for later use. The presence of insulin puts the body in storage mode. Because cortisol can increase blood sugar independent of diet, managing insulin is about both diet & lifestyle.
Definitely listen to the full episode for a conversation about what we can do, from a diet & lifestyle perspective, to help these hormones work in our favor! There's a lot we can do!