Food Freedom Friday Edition 189 - Fat Burning Hormones

If weight loss is your goal, you are probably significantly more interested in fat loss as opposed to losing hard earned (and good-looking) muscle and precious bone mass!

It may please you to learn there are specific fat burning hormones that you have the power to trigger and upregulate without having to spend. countless hours in the gym or (barely) subsisting on baked chicken breast and steamed broccoli. Particular hormones trigger your body to break down stored fat into free fatty acids (lipolysis) and promote the use of these fatty acids in the energy making process.

Furthermore, you have control over particular hormones that promote muscle growth. Muscle cells require more energy than less metabolically active cells (including fat cells). The more muscle you have, the more energy and fat you will burn.

Your Fat Burning Hormones

Human Growth Hormone

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland which is found at the base of your brain. The key role of HGH is to promote cellular growth and repair but it also plays a role in fat metabolism and body composition.

HGH impacts many processes. It facilitates lipolysis, promotes the utilization of free fatty acids, and stimulates muscle growth.

Unfortunately, your body naturally begins to secrete less HGH as you age. Numerous studies have shown that a deficiency in HGH can lead to the accumulation of body fat along with other negative health consequences. Thus, raising HGH levels in adults with an HGH deficiency has been shown to reduce body fat, especially in the abdomen.

HGH can be naturally boosted through high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and fasting.

HIIT is an exercise regime that entails short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of recovery at lower intensity or rest. Mounting evidence suggests that HIIT is one of the most effective workouts to burn body fat.

HIIT increases your HGH levels, but it also impacts fat burning by:

·       Boosting your adrenaline (another fat burning hormone)

·       Increasing your metabolic activity up 24 hours post-workout

·       Increasing your insulin sensitivity

·       Suppressing your appetite after the workout

HIIT is a simple and versatile exercise technique:

·       You can do it anywhere (even outdoors)

·       It doesn’t require any special equipment

·       Results are possible in as little as 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week

Fasting literally implies taking a break from eating. You have specific times where you follow the basic eating guidelines you already know: eat healthy fats, lean proteins, veggies, and some fruit and avoid processed food and manufactured goods. You have other defined periods during which you consume no foods, only water, salt and possibly some black tea or coffee.

There are many health benefits to fasting, including an increase in HGH. But also consider the following:

·       You will probably take in fewer calories resulting in naturally occurring fat loss.

·       It’s extremely efficient. Lipolysis begins very soon after you start your fast, as soon as your body finishes digesting its last meal.

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) is a protein similar in structure to insulin. It is primarily synthesized and secreted by the liver when HGH is released into the bloodstream. Thus, when HGH increases, so does IGF-1.

IGF-1 plays a large role in stimulating growth, in part by influencing the action of HGH.

While IGF-1 does not directly impact lipolysis, it does promote the use of fatty acids for energy production in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, the presence of IGF-1 prevents the body from storing fat. Studies have shown a decrease in body fat and increase in muscle mass when IGF-1 deficient individuals were repleted in this hormone.

Increasing IGF-1 requires boosting HGH. It follows that HIIT and fasting are both excellent strategies for this purpose.


Your pancreas secretes glucagon when your blood glucose levels are low. Essentially, glucagon stimulates lipolysis to generate fuel in the absence of food.

Research has found that a short burst of glucagon is released in response to eating. It is thought that this glucagon sends a signal to the brain via the vagus nerve to prevent overeating. In the same study, intravenous injections of glucagon during meals were shown to reduce food intake.

Glucagon does not only promote lipolysis, it also prevents fat from being stored in the first place.

It may come as no surprise to learn that one of the best ways to stimulate glucagon production is by fasting! Going without food lowers blood glucose levels, which then causes glucagon to be secreted.

Thyroid Hormones

Your thyroid gland, located in your neck just below your Adam’s apple, is responsible for making and secreting your thyroid hormones. These hormones play a significant role in multiple body systems, including metabolism. Almost every cell in your body has receptor sites for thyroid hormones, including fat cells.

In relation to burning fat, thyroid hormones mobilize free fatty acids and enhance their utilization in the energy making process. This is one of the reasons why individuals with low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroid) are often overweight and have difficulty losing fat and why individuals with high thyroid hormone levels (hyperthyroid) sometimes experience unwanted weight loss.

Research confirms that dieters with high baseline levels of thyroid hormones experienced significantly better weight loss results during their first 6 months on their eating program. These researchers also found that increased thyroid hormone levels led to a reduction in body fat along with other positive outcomes.

To promote optimal thyroid hormone levels, eating a diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods and low in inflammation triggers is essential. This means a diet comprising real, whole, unprocessed foods with an understanding of any personal intolerances.

Two key nutrients for optimal thyroid health include iodine and selenium. Sea vegetables, such as nori, kelp, wakame, and kombu are excellent sources of iodine. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium. You only require 2 of these nuts to meet your daily requirements.

It is also important to avoid exposure to heavy metals, mold, and chemicals, including pesticides and those found in personal care products and household cleaners. These toxins can negatively impact the health of your thyroid.

Moving your body is important, and goes without saying for general health and well-being.


Your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, secrete adrenaline in response to stress. It’s one of the ways your body prepares itself to deal with imminent danger.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate to improve circulation. It increases your breathing to pull more oxygen into your lungs. Adrenaline releases fuel in the form of glucose and fatty acids from storage so that your muscles have the energy they need to deal with the threat at hand.

Adding stressors is not recommended to boost adrenaline but well-timed and managed HIIT workouts are great for this purpose.


Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by both men and women although men naturally produce more.  Testosterone is what gives men their sexual characteristics.

Low testosterone has repeatedly been linked to abdominal obesity, especially in men. Studies have shown that raising testosterone levels in obese men is an effective strategy for reducing body fat. In these cases, researchers suggest that testosterone boosts energy production as well as motivation and vigor.

Testosterone is also essential for building new muscle cells (which naturally burn more fat) in both sexes.

Exercise and a well-formulated nutrition plan are major players when it comes to increasing testosterone. HIIT has also been shown to increase testosterone post workout. Dietary fat intake, including saturated fat, has a positive correlation with resting testosterone levels. This is yet another reason to embrace naturally occurring, healthy fats into your diet. These would include coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, butter or ghee from grass-fed cows, the fats from well raised animals and wild caught fish.

Further Factors

When it comes to increasing your fat burning hormones, there are a few other factors worth mentioning:

·       Prioritize your sleep – both in quantity and quality. The pituitary gland naturally secretes HGH during deep sleep. This is also the time when the body repairs itself and builds new muscle tissue.

·       Manage your external stressors. Consider meditation, mindfulness, and spending time in nature. Chronic stress works against your body’s fat burning mechanisms.

·       Always choose nutrient-rich, whole foods over processed foods. Your body needs a variety of nutrients to synthesize your fat burning hormones. Fat burning takes work and the body requires nutrients to mobilize and utilize fatty acids.

In Conclusion

Your body produces several fat burning hormones that can help you achieve your weight loss goals. It is important to understand how these hormones work and how to trigger their activation.

The MOST efficient and effective ways to enlist the support of your fat burning hormones include exercise, especially HIIT, and fasting.

Michal Ofer