Fat building Hormones

There are 3 Fat producing Hormones

  • Estrogen
  • Cortisol
  • Insulin

In this post we do not talk about estrogen, but concentrate on cortisol and insulin only.

Talking about insulin and cortisol—or in simpler terms, carbs and stress—has finally become part of the conversation about body composition in earnest. We’ve begun to recognize that getting lean is not as simple as “calories in versus calories out.”

There are 6 Fat burning Hormones

  • T3 (Thyroid)
  • Growth Hormone
  • IGF-I
  • Glukagone
  • Testosterone
  • Adrenaline

If you can understand how to handle insulin and cortisol and make them work for you, then you’ll be better able to manage your food intake without experiencing crazy cravings and hunger, ultimately improving your body composition. Plus you’ll balance a number of other hormones especially the 6 fat burning hormones at the same time to achieve better overall health


Insulin is an anabolic hormone. That means it builds–both muscle and fat tissue. It is, above all, a storage hormone. It stores sugar, vitamins, and fats for later use. You release insulin in response to any rise in blood sugar, whether it’s due to eating or to stress.

While insulin is secreted most significantly when eating carbohydrates, it is also released when you eat protein. Indirectly, insulin is released when eating fat as well. This process is called gluconeogenesis. This is important to note because it’s a common misconception that protein and fat are “free foods” and that you only need to worry about carbs when it comes to insulin.

If you suffer of a insulin resistance then your cells do not respond appropriately to insulin’s messages. Your body becomes less efficient at shuttling nutrients into your cells for use, so when you do eat carbs, protein, or fat, you experience an exaggerated response to any rise in blood sugar. It’s sort of like you want your kid to do something, the kid does not hear you (or does not want to hear you) and therefore you start screaming at your kid….

This inefficiency creates prolonged blood sugar elevations and excess insulin secretion.

Why does this happen? Usually you get here by chronically over-carbing, over-eating, or over-stressing.


Cortisol is a double-edged sword. Secreted by the adrenal glands, our main stress hormone has a couple of jobs including raising blood sugar. Cortisol is vital for life, necessary for fat burning, and is even anti-inflammatory in small doses. Yet, on the flip-side, when your body experiences it in too-high doses, it can cause an increase in body fat, slow the metabolism by affecting thyroid hormone levels, lead to inflammation, induce cravings, and create a big metabolic mess.

How You Burn and Store Fat

Hormones are very much an orchestrated, complicated process, and they all work together.

The first key player to know when it comes to fat storage is LPL (lipoprotein lipase). Simply put, LPL is the fat storer. It makes triglycerides (a form of fat) and puts them in a fat cell for storage. Another important player is HSL (hormone sensitive lipase) which lets that fat out. When it comes to fat burning, insulin and cortisol in the process depends on how they interact with these LPL and HSL.

The process looks like this

  • Insulin turns up LPL to make more fat/triglycerides.
  • Insulin puts the breaks on HSL, slowing down the ability to release stored fat into your bloodstream.
  • Next, insulin slows down the ability of an enzyme called CPT1 to break down fat in your bloodstream to turn it into energy.
  • During short periods of not eating (for example, during the night and between meals) as well as with short duration, high-intensity exercise, cortisol will turn on HSL, triggering fat release. It does this with help from growth hormone and adrenaline.
  • When cortisol and insulin are around together, it causes an exaggerated effect on LPL (fat storing) and insulin hinders HSL, overriding what cortisol is trying to do (release fat for burning).
  • Chronically elevated cortisol will make you more insulin resistant….and on and on we go.

Insulin & Cortisol as a Combo = Big Problem

As you just read, the storage and release of fat are both affected by insulin and cortisol. When the two are elevated together, it makes storing fat easier and burning fat harder.

To complicate things even further, yet another stress hormone is at play here: NPY (neuropeptide Y). NPY is part of what triggers you to eat when you’re stressed—along with cortisol’s effect of making you crave high-fat and high-carb foods. NPY also leads to fat storing.

What’s to be done?

Eat when you feel hungry, but not so often that you are grazing.

Easier said than done. Ask yourself: “Am I having increased appetite between or after meals?” “Am I having sugar cravings between or after meals?” “How is my energy between meals or immediately after eating?”“Am I falling and staying asleep easily?” As you ask these questions, keep in mind that symptoms between meals are related to lower blood sugar problems and symptoms immediately after eating are related to insulin resistance problems.

Eat to your unique carb tolerance.

This means finding out how much of what type of carbs you can eat while keeping you in balance. For example, it can be that you can eat an entire apple, but if you eat as little as four bites of a sweet potato, you would craving the rest of that sweet potato. And if you finish it, you will be asleep on the couch.

Don’t overeat.

Too much food in general will tax your blood sugar balance. Eat slower, giving your body time to talk to you. Try taking 20 minutes to eat a meal; that’s about how long it takes for your hormones (leptin and ghrelin) to tell your body that you’re full.

Avoid fat + carb/sugar meals

This combination makes the biggest mess of insulin and creates the strongest fat-storing message. When dining out, opt for veggies and protein, assuming the meal has more oil or butter than you’d use at home. Skip the rice, pasta, bread, and alcohol in these situations.

Eat loads of veggie fiber, adequate protein and natural fats

Veggies and salads you can consume as much as you want. Protein in moderation, which means max 1 gram per ideal body weight and the rest is natural fats. Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates and starchy foods.

Manage stress – especially emotional stress

If you don’t know where to begin, this simple breathing tool lowers cortisol instantly: Breathe in for four counts and exhale for six to eight counts.

Our lifes are busy and can be stressful. That’s not necessairly changing.

The only thing you can change is how you respond to that stress.

Get enough sleep!

Get to bed early with a pleasure book to get your mind going. Be sure you have a dark, cool room.

Manage inflammation.

Discover and avoid any foods that you know trigger allergies and sensitivities. Heal long-standing injuries. Avoid overtraining or over-exercising. Get enough rest and don’t drink too much wine. Adequate omega-3 and supplementing with turmeric and resveratrol can also really help. Before taking any supplements, it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider for appropriate dosing and to make sure there are no interactions with any existing medications you might be taking.

Don’t overtrain—especially with long-duration cardio.

If you’re struggling to lose fat, are noticing less motivation to work out, or feel generally achy and inflamed, it’s time to shake things up.

Be sure your training plan is well balanced and includes adequate rest between training sessions. If it currently includes no weight training and five spin classes, make some changes to balance things out. If it’s all heavy weight training and sprints, balance it out with some lower-intensity, restorative activities like walking and yoga.



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