Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hormones And Weight Loss

If I were to ask you what your metabolism is, what would you say? I bet you would answer, "The way my body burns calories." If so, you would be wrong. That's one of the key things your metabolism does. But I'm asking whether you know what it is.

The answer is hormones! Your metabolism is your biochemistry. Some hormones tell you you're hungry; some tell you you're full. When you eat, hormones tell your body what to do with that food — whether to store it or burn it as fuel. And when you exercise, hormones tell your body how to move and consume energy stores, and how to boost or shut down different body parts. Hormones control almost every aspect of how we gain weight — and how we can lose it.

The endocrine system — the group of organs and glands responsible for releasing hormones that regulate key bodily functions — is sometimes compared to an orchestra. Each hormone is like an instrument. Playing together, in tune, they sound amazing. But what happens if, right in the middle of a concert, a violin suddenly goes wildly astray, twanging on its own? And then a clarinet starts shrieking? And then the pianist can't keep up? The music would sound like crap, right?

It's exactly the same with your metabolism. Your body can't work the way it's supposed to if any of your hormones is out of tune. Once one goes, they all follow. That's why you can't just focus on one hormone at a time when you're trying to balance your hormones — you have to work to get them all in tune and playing in the right key again.
Jillian Michaels

Understanding Insulin Resistance

Insulin plays a critical role in how your body uses food. Its most important role is to lower the concentration of glucose in your blood. When you eat, your digestive system breaks food down into glucose, and the glucose recirculates in your blood stream. In response to the rise in glucose after a meal, the pancreas releases surges of insulin, whose job is to clean the glucose from the blood. Some of the glucose is diverted into the liver, where it's converted into stored glucose, called glycogen, for later use by the muscles. Insulin then helps turn any leftover glucose into fatty acids and stores them in fat cells where they can be tapped later for fuel.

By making poor food choices, like scarfing down too many highly processed, refined carbs (like white bread and pasta!), we can do things to cause our bodies to create too much insulin. When you repeat that cycle too many times (like by repeatedly eating sugary junk on an empty stomach) your pancreas will overcompensate and produce more insulin, which your cells will eventually start to ignore. This is called insulin resistance and it is the precursor to type 2 diabetes and it is common in overweight people. Turned away at the door, the sugar is left with no where to go. If it hangs around in your blood too long, doctors call this impaired fasting glucose (if measured in the morning) or impaired glucose tolerance (if measured two hours after a meal). You could develop full-blown diabetes if both conditions go unchecked.

While high levels of blood glucose trigger insulin release, low levels suppress it, Maintaining low levels of insulin — one of the primary goals of the diet — allows your body to more easily tap in to your stored fat for fuel. Conversely, being insulin-resistant can hamper your weight-loss efforts. Try to avoid spikes in your blood sugar, by eating regularly. Pair carbs with protein, eat whole foods, avoid sugar juices and fruits, and highly-processed carbs. When your insulin-release mechanism works the right way, it helps keep your weight in check. So strive to keep it balanced!

Jillian Michaels

Why Are Your Hormones Messed Up?

To understand why your hormones can be thrown out of whack and derail your ability to maintain a healthy weight, you first need to know one key fact about your endocrine system: It reacts to what you put into your body and how you treat it. All day your body interacts with external variables — what you choose to eat, the time of day, the intensity of your workout — and your endocrine system responds by releasing hormones to help you balance your blood sugar, go to sleep, burn fat, or build muscle.

The problem is that the endocrine system doesn't know what to make of many of the external variables it's introduced to. Many factors in our diet and environment — from processed foods to pesticides to lack of sleep — confuse our hormones to the point that they don't know which end is up. I call these factors endocrine disrupters because in the face of them, your hormones begin to overreact and overcompensate. And that's when trouble starts.

Endocrine disrupters can start a chain reaction: One hormone goes into overdrive and another goes into hibernation mode. That imbalance creates another, and another, and another. These dramatic hormone shifts weren't part of your body's original plan, so eventually the unpredictable fluctuations start to wear down your body's natural regulatory processes. Your endocrine system no longer understands what balance looks like. It stops responding the way it should. Your organs take a beating; your glands burn out. You develop a hypothyroid condition and/or become resistant to leptin (a satiety — or fullness — hormone) and insulin. And then you gain weight.

The good news is that you can help balance your hormones in part by changing what you put in your mouth.

From LOSING IT! With Jillian Michaels