The fat hormone?
You must be thinking – The fat hormone ? Is there really a hormone called fat ?? Well the straight answer is – no. But there are hormones out there which are contributors to fat deposition around our body. In this blog we shall browse over 1 hormone in particular which leads to fat gain and some of you might have guessed it by now, yes it’s called insulin!
I won’t put you to sleep with the science of it all but insulin is produced in the pancreas by beta cells. The pancreas is a double functioning organ meaning that it takes part in regulating digestion and controlling blood sugar. Clever eh! So anyway, the role of insulin is to stabilise blood sugar levels and how does it do this? By piggy backing all the sugar which you have ingested and dumping it in your tissues, muscles and fat cells. So let’s say you have a can of coke or a cake. They are both high in sugars and this raises blood sugar levels. The body dislikes this and wants to send it away asap so what it does is chuck it to the muscles and then fat cells. This is where insulin plays its role and helps stabilise blood sugar levels. This all sounds easy right? You eat something sweet have happy hormones flying around for a short period of time and loved that brownie you just ate knowing that your body will take care of the damage.
But this is where it all goes a little lopsided. The more sugars we eat the more the pancreas has to release insulin and dump it into the tissues and cells. At first the sugars go in to the muscles and then the rest of the body. But the problem is that the muscles can only store a limited amount of glucose (shame I know!) and then when they’ve been full up then the sugars head straight towards our fat cells. This is the main issue with this hormone is that it is very good at taking sugars in to fat cells when you eat a carbohydrate meal.
There are more issues with insulin because once a lot is released, insulin can actually help the liver turn sugars in to fats too which are happily stored away and insulin can also prevent fat from fat cells being broken down and used as energy. It does this by preventing hormone sensitive lipase from breaking down fat from fat cells and using as energy. Triacylglyceride is the structure for fat. It is made from 1 glycerol molecule with 3 fat molecules attached to the back bone of the glycerol. Lots to take in but it’s worth it! Before triacylglyceride (fat) enters fat cells, the glycerol (sugar part) has to break away from the fat part and then when inside fat cells they rejoin. The enzyme lipase helps this to occur. However, when we carry out some exercise or do some activity our fat can be used and so they leave the fat cells and act as energy in the blood. Insulin prevents this action from occurring which is a major downfall to fat loss. Insulin also helps in the creation of more glycerol (sugar) to enter fat cells and join with other fat structures to make more fats and therefore adding to fat gain rather than the opposite ! Also eating high sugary foods causes an insulin spike meaning that your hunger levels start sooner than later. Reason being is that insulin wants to get all that sugar out of your blood asap and rushes it to the muscles and then fat cells. This leads to low blood sugar sooner than later and then you feel that you need to eat again and yes doing this day in and day out 365 days a year will lead to fat gain, insulin resistance and the rest!
These are major issues especially for people who lack physical exercise and eat a lot of sugary foods! This leads to obesity, diabetes, strokes etc etc and again this is extremely dangerous for people’s health. Numbers are rising in the Western world especially in places such as the US and the UK and we need to do something about it! I’m not saying that insulin is evil and out there to get you fat but you need to control the secretion of it. If we didn’t have insulin at all then we would all be subjected to type 2 diabetes so therefore insulin does have its benefits. Also without insulin we wouldn’t be able to transport glucose in to our muscles to get big and strong. Also the brain needs a hell of a lot of nutrients one being glucose to function properly! So again to reiterate insulin is not Dr.Evil but it’s all about controlling its secretion.
To call if the fat hormone has some truth to it but we cannot rule out its advantages. If it hadn’t any advantages then our body would not be making it – that’s plain and simple. The human body is the most advanced out there and we do not make any substances for deliberate harm. It is only when people take push their body’s to the limits and start to cause self harm ! Not the type where people draw on their skins but internal harm which is far more dangerous!
So the key to maintaining insulin is to have a good diet, ranging from fiber foods, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid high sugar foods and implement lots of healthy proteins and fats. Fats as I have said before (I think) does not raise insulin levels and although protein does it also raises another hormone called glucagon which maintains that even balance in the body. So therefore you don’t have any insulin spikes.
I’ve gone on about insulin for sometime now but I do hope this helps you understand a little bit more about the hormone. It is vital that we all take note of it’s uses and don’t take it for granted. Too much of anything is bad just remember that and you do not want to agitate this hormone!