Natural Solutions to Burning Fat
Fat may seem like the enemy of civilized people—especially sedentary ones. Yet we cannot live without it. Fat plays a key role in the structure and flexibility of cell membranes, and it helps regulate the movement of substances through those membranes. Special types of fat, known as eicosanoids, send hormone-like signals that exert control over many bodily systems, mostly those affecting inflammation or immune function.
Of course, the best-known function of fat is as an energy reserve. Fat has more than twice the energy-storage capacity of carbohydrate (9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram). It has been estimated that lean adult men store about 131,000 calories in fat (Horowitz & Klein 2000), enough energy to keep the average person alive for about 65 days.
For fitness enthusiasts, the prime concern arises when the body’s fat-storage function works too well, hoarding unwanted fat that makes people unhealthy and self-conscious about their appearance. However, understanding how fat travels through the body can help to reduce excess body fat and improve athletic performance overall.
The Journey of a Fat to Muscle
Fat resides primarily in designated fat-storage cells called adipocytes. Most adipocytes are just under the skin and in regions surrounding and protecting vital organs. Nearly all fat in adipocytes exists in the form of triglycerides. Each triglyceride consists of a backbone (glycerol) with three fatty-acid tails. I like to use the image of stick with 3 tadpoles attached.
Depending on energy supply and demand, adipocytes can either store fat from the blood or release fat back to the blood. After we eat, when the energy supply is high, the hormone insulin keeps fatty acids inside the fat cells. After a few hours of fasting or during exercise, insulin levels tend to drop, while levels of other hormones—such as adrenalin (also knows as epinephrine) increase.
When epinephrine binds to adipocytes, triglyceride stores go through a process called fat breakdown, which separates fatty acids from their glycerol backbone. After this, fatty acids and glycerol can leave the fat cells and enter the blood.
Fatty Acids in the Blood
Because fat does not easily dissolve in water, it needs a carrier protein to keep it evenly suspended in the water-based environment of the blood. The primary protein carrier for fat in the blood is albumin. One albumin protein can carry multiple fatty acids through the blood to muscle cells via the capillaries that surround the muscle.
Two Fates of Fat Inside Muscle
Once fat is inside the muscle, a molecule called coenzyme A (CoA) is added to the fatty acids. CoA is a transport protein that maintains the inward flow of fatty acids entering the muscle and prepares the fatty acid for one of two fates:
- Oxidation (in which electrons are removed from a molecule) to produce energy or
- Storage within the muscle or organs
Most of us prefer step one. However the body ultimately makes it’s decision based upon a person’s current state of health and diet.
How Much Fat Do We Need
The human body actually needs to have a certain percentage of body fat for it to be able to function properly. For women, 14 percent body fat seems to be the low end of healthy and for men that number can be as low as eight percent. When body fat drops lower than 14 percent for women and eight percent for men, health risks increase, including everything from reproductive dysfunction (such as amenorrhea in women), chronic dehydration, sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue), osteoporosis (loss of bone density), and potentially even organ and nerve damage.
The Best Way to Burn Fat with Exercise
Doing what is commonly known as cardio or aerobic exercise (walking, biking, jogging) is good for you because it reduces heart disease risk, but it’s not the best choice if your focus is to burn the body fat.
You may think of weight, strength, or resistance training as simply a way to build muscle mass, but weight-bearing exercises have also been found to burn abdominal fat more effectively than cardio exercise.
In just two 15-20 minute heavy lifting sessions per week you can have positive effects on your resting metabolic rate, your blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity. Which all adds up to being a better way to keep that body fat weight off.
Balancing Insulin to Burn Fat
Insulin resistance occurs when insulin is released by the pancreas, but your body doesn’t use it properly causing blood sugar levels to stay high instead of going down into the normal range. This can occur if you are consistently stressed, lacking sleep, eating processed foods and drinking too much alcohol.
An imbalance in insulin and glucose levels can be easily managed with diet and lifestyle changes. Here are some thing that you can begin to do (or check) to resolve insulin resistance:
Check your Cortisol
Stress during can cause steroid sex hormones, such as estrogen, to be metabolized into cortisol. Increased cortisol levels stimulate sugar to be released into your bloodstream, increasing insulin and ultimately thwarting your efforts to lose weight.
Address your Adrenals
Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- relentless and debilitating fatigue
- depressed mood
- loss of interest in life
- low energy
- an inability to carry out your normal day-to-day activities
Make sure that your adrenals are nourished by feeding them with healthy Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. Sodium supports adrenal function. And, despite what you have probably heard about sodium intake, most people do not get enough sodium in their diet. It’s easy to become sodium-deficient, especially if you exercise or are under stress. When you are sodium-deficient your cortisol and insulin levels will be out of whack, and your muscles can become stiff. (Sodium relaxes soft tissue.) Try adding a good Himalayan salt to your food (not regular table salt.) You can also put 1/4 tsp of sea salt in warm water first thing in the morning.
Alcohol is sugar. Drinking alcohol regularly causes insulin resistance and weight gain. In addition, alcohol is processed through the liver. When your liver is busy breaking down alcohol, it can’t process hormones, creating further imbalances in estrogen and cortisol and converting the excess glucose it stores to fat. Remember fat cells are loaded with glucose receptors so they crave more sugar. If you do have the occasional drink, take fiber to help stabilize your blood sugar and slow down the absorption of alcohol.
Quick Solutions to Weight Loss
If you find that you just need a boost to kick start your weight loss, consider HCG. The HCG weight loss program is a simple-to-follow, highly effective way to lose a significant amount of weight in a relatively short period to time, without slowing down the metabolism, experiencing unwanted hunger, or regaining the weight back afterwards.
If you are concerned that your weight loss goals are being hindered by an imbalance of your thyroid, insulin (or that you may be approaching menopause) please contact me to schedule an appointment. A simple urine test can help to stabilize your hormones for weight loss success. I’m here to help you achieve your weight loss goals, for good!