If weight loss is your goal, you’ll need to have your hormones working for you. In this post, I share food choices, supplements, and practical, do it yourself ways to boost the performance of five hormones so you can ramp up your fat loss.
Fat Loss Hormone Fixes At-A-Glance
- Boost adiponectin by increasing the amount of fiber, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fats in your diet. Supplement with berberine or curcumin.
- Get leptin working for you by cutting out inflammatory food like sugar and refined foods. Practice intermittent fasting for more anti-inflammatory support.
- Lower hunger by boosting levels of Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Peptide YY. This is done by eating a diet with plenty of healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
- Keep the fat-storing hormone, insulin, low by eating a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet.
DIY Hormone Fixes for Faster Fat Loss [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- How various hormones affect your body.
- How you can adjust your diet to get the most out of those hormones!
- Additional tips for getting the most out of your fat loss hormones.
Adiponectin is a hormone that is produced by your adipocytes, which is the fancy name for fat cells. It helps to regulate how well your body uses glucose and fat to provide energy.
But even more important regarding your ability to burn fat is how this hormone combats insulin resistance. Studies show that as it rises, your cells become more sensitive to insulin, which is going to help you become an overall better fat burner (1).
If you are at risk of diabetes, this is a hormone to pay attention to because as adiponectin increases, your risk of diabetes drops dramatically (2).
The bottom line, you want adiponectin circulating through your body, and you can boost the amount with a properly prepared daily salad and a couple of supplements.
Hormone Fix (Adiponectin)
The easy hormone fix for adiponectin is to have a large daily salad topped with nuts and avocado slices and serve it with an oil and vinegar dressing. To get more omega-3s, add salmon to your salad a couple of times a week.
Supplements will also help you boost adiponectin. If you’re not a fish lover, omega-3 fish oils can fill in for you.
Fiber can also be supplemented. I like organic psyllium husk powder, which has 4 grams of fiber per teaspoon. It mixes up easily in a glass of water. It makes for a rather bland drink, but with a squeeze of lemon, it is rather tasty.
Berberine and curcumin are additional supplements that will help. And, they are both also known for their ability to improve insulin sensitivity, so they provide additional weight loss support (5) (6) (7).
The interesting thing about adiponectin is that it’s made by your fat cells, but when you lose fat, the level in your blood increases. It might be that obesity blocks production of this hormone, but I like to think of it as your fat cells having a built-in self-destruction mechanism. The more fat you lose, the more you burn up, thanks to the increase in adiponectin (8).
Leptin is another hormone made by your fat cells. We like leptin because it tells your brain when you are full and have enough fat in storage. When things are working correctly, leptin shuts down hunger and keeps you from overeating.
Unlike adiponectin, however, the more fat you have, the more leptin you have. That sounds like it should be a good thing and that an overweight person should never be hungry.
Unfortunately, when there is too much leptin, the system breaks down, and leptin resistance develops. When you’re leptin resistant, your brain doesn’t get the message that you’re full, and you feel like you are always hungry.
Hormone Fix (Leptin)
Elevated levels of leptin are linked to inflammation (9).
Therefore, the most promising way to normalize leptin and reverse leptin resistance is to eat and move in a way that reduces inflammation.
Start by cutting out inflammatory foods. The worst offender is sugar. Whether you stir sugar into your coffee, drink soda, snack on a cookie, or eat pasta for dinner, the sugary, refined food will become blood sugar very quickly. This not only creates inflammation but also spikes insulin, which blocks fat loss.
My rule for sugar is – if sugar or one of its aliases is listed as one of the top ingredients, don’t eat it. Common sugar aliases include cane sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fruit juice concentrate, and high fructose corn syrup.
Intermittent fasting adds another layer of defense against inflammation, which will help you lose weight and restore leptin sensitivity. You’ll gain the most anti-inflammatory benefit by starting your fast after dinner. A large study performed on women found that as evening calorie intake increased, so did inflammation (10).
Give yourself at least 3 hours before bed to digest your food.
Gut Derived Hormones (CCK and PYY)
Over the past couple of decades, science has made some amazing discoveries about the role your gut plays in health and weight loss.
Before then, your gut or intestinal tract was mainly thought of as a hollow tube that broke down your food and removed waste. Today, we know that it is so much more than that and that there are hormones made there that affect many things, including hunger (11) (12).
Cholecystokinin or CCK is a hunger-satisfaction hormone, like leptin. But it is made by cells in your intestines. You want more CCK because it prevents overeating. It also slows the rate at which food digests, which keeps you feeling full longer after a meal.
Hormone Fix (Cholecystokinin)
You’ve likely heard or experienced yourself that protein, dietary fat, and fiber are hunger satisfying foods. That is thanks, in part, to the increase in CCK that comes after eating these nutrients.
Peptide YY (PYY)
An interesting thing about these hormones that come from your gut is that they have the same effect on lean and obese people. (18).
In fact, when Peptide YY was injected into lean and obese study participants, appetite and food intake were decreased (11). So, unlike leptin, the sensitivity of these hunger-satisfying hormones is preserved in obese patients.
While it is only an observation, it has been my experience from teaching a low-carb/high-fat diet to a broad audience that most people find that when they eat more fat they don’t eat as often because they are not hungry.
Hormone Fix (Peptide YY)
The do it yourself fix for the two gut-derived hormones (CCK and PYY) is to feed your body more fat and an adequate amount of protein.
If you are just switching your diet, I recommend that you start by increasing the amount of fat you eat so that it is at least 50% of your daily calorie intake.
The remaining 50% of your calories can be split evenly between carbs and protein. So, even though you increase your fat intake, you can keep non-starchy, fiber-filled foods in your diet, like the salad example I talked about earlier.
A low carb diet is the best fix for what I consider the primary weight control hormone, which is insulin. Insulin is your fat-storing hormone. You want to keep levels of insulin low so that fat storage is limited and fat burning is possible.
The three main nutrients that make up the foods you eat are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each of these nutrients affects insulin in a different way. Carbs raise it the most, protein increases it a moderate amount, and fat has little effect on insulin levels.
Hormone Fix (Insulin)
To keep insulin low, it makes sense to eat a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet.
Exercise and lifestyle changes, like getting a better night’s sleep, will provide additional benefits as you work to get the most out of your fat loss hormones.
You can’t overlook the importance of your diet. The way to start is to cut the sugar, have a daily salad, and stop eating three hours before bed. These are three of the four daily habits that I share in my 0,1,2,3 strategy.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Kadowaki, Takashi, et al. “Adiponectin and adiponectin receptors in insulin resistance, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome.” The Journal of clinical investigation 116.7 (2006): 1784-1792.
(2) Wang, Yeli, et al. “Plasma adiponectin levels and type 2 diabetes risk: a nested case-control study in a Chinese population and an updated meta-analysis.” Scientific reports 8.1 (2018): 1-13.
(3) Paniagua, Juan Antonio, et al. “Monounsaturated fat–rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects.” Diabetes care 30.7 (2007): 1717-1723.
(4) Silva, Flávia M., Jussara C. de Almeida, and Ana M. Feoli. “Effect of diet on adiponectin levels in blood.” Nutrition reviews 69.10 (2011): 599-612.
(5) Zhu, Xiaopeng, Hua Bian, and Xin Gao. “The potential mechanisms of berberine in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Molecules 21.10 (2016): 1336.
(6) Clark, Cain CT, et al. “The effect of curcumin supplementation on circulating adiponectin: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews 13.5 (2019): 2819-2825.
(7) Panahi, Yunes, et al. “Effects of supplementation with curcumin on serum adipokine concentrations: A randomized controlled trial.” Nutrition 32.10 (2016): 1116-1122.
(8) Ma, Wenjie, et al. “Weight-loss diets, adiponectin, and changes in cardiometabolic risk in the 2-year POUNDS Lost Trial.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 101.6 (2016): 2415-2422.
(9) Iikuni, Noriko, et al. “Leptin and inflammation.” Current immunology reviews 4.2 (2008): 70-79.
(10) Marinac, Catherine R., et al. “Frequency and circadian timing of eating may influence biomarkers of inflammation and insulin resistance associated with breast cancer risk.” PloS one 10.8 (2015): e0136240.
(11) Suzuki, Keisuke, Channa N. Jayasena, and Stephen R. Bloom. “The gut hormones in appetite regulation.” Journal of obesity 2011 (2011).
(12) Perry, Benjamin, and Y. Wang. “Appetite regulation and weight control: the role of gut hormones.” Nutrition & diabetes 2.1 (2012): e26-e26.
(13) McLaughlin, J. T., et al. “Fatty acids stimulate cholecystokinin secretion via an acyl chain length-specific, Ca2+-dependent mechanism in the enteroendocrine cell line STC-1.” The Journal of physiology 513.Pt 1 (1998): 11.
(14) Foltz, Martin, et al. “Protein hydrolysates induce CCK release from enteroendocrine cells and act as partial agonists of the CCK1 receptor.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 56.3 (2008): 837-843.
(15) Bourdon, Ingeborg, et al. “Beans, as a source of dietary fiber, increase cholecystokinin and apolipoprotein b48 response to test meals in men.” The Journal of nutrition 131.5 (2001): 1485-1490.
(16) Lomenick, Jefferson P., et al. “Effects of meals high in carbohydrate, protein, and fat on ghrelin and peptide YY secretion in prepubertal children.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 94.11 (2009): 4463-4471.
(17) Suzuki, Keisuke, Channa N. Jayasena, and Stephen R. Bloom. “The gut hormones in appetite regulation.” Journal of obesity 2011 (2011).
(18) Lieverse, R. J., et al. “Satiety effects of a physiological dose of cholecystokinin in humans.” Gut 36.2 (1995): 176-179.
About the Author:
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.