Hi, I’m Dr. Chad Larson. When it comes to fat burning, we really need to have these particular hormones in balance. Fat burning requires a proper balance of lots of hormones in your system, but these are the ones you absolutely must get right. In fact, oftentimes when you get these hormones right, the others that are involved kind of fall into place. So I wanted to create this table to give you a quick, simple understanding of what these do in your system.
Here we have the name of the hormone: cortisol, insulin, testosterone. And then we find whether that hormone is catabolic or anabolic to muscle and fat. Catabolic means break down and anabolic means build up. And these hormones have a very direct influence on how these affect your fat and muscle cells. And here we’re talking about chronic elevations. These hormones kind of go up and down on a daily basis, but if they’re chronically out of balance, it runs into real problems.
Chronic elevation of cortisol is catabolic to muscle, meaning breaking down muscle, and it’s anabolic to fat. We know that high, long-term levels of cortisol increase fat storage and muscle breakdown. Cortisol is a stress hormone. In the Covid era, a lot of people are experiencing various types of stress, and that can influence hormones such as your cortisol and insulin.
Just as a quick reminder, your hormones work like a big symphony in the body. They all have to harmonize together. You get one hormone off, that can influence the other hormones, the harmony of the symphony, the whole situation with the hormones in the system.
-Dr Chad Larson
Next, insulin is kind of an interesting one. It’s not really catabolic to anything. When insulin is in the system, it’s a builder, it’s a growth signal to your body. The body is saying, we need to turn on growth and storage. And that’s what insulin does. It’s anabolic to both fat and muscle. I guess that’s good for muscle, but that slight benefit to muscle pales in comparison to the bad effects of chronic elevated insulin on our fat cells.
Insulin causes fat storage. We’ve talked about this in many episodes from a variety of angles. And that’s basically what it comes down to. Insulin at high chronic levels causes fat storage. Even at acute levels. If you eat a bunch of food that is high in refined processed carbohydrates or sugar, the body needs to do something with that glucose. Your insulin level will go up and a lot of that glucose is going to be converted into fat, and it has to be stored in fat cells. Over a long enough time it becomes chronic, and that’s when it can turn into a life-altering issue, increasing risk factors and leading to conditions like obesity, diabetes, and similar things.
Now, testosterone is the complete opposite of cortisol. It’s catabolic to fat and anabolic to muscle. So if we’re telling a story about testosterone and cortisol, testosterone would be sort of the protagonist of the story and cortisol would be the antagonist. It does the complete opposite. So you can see how, in times of sustained stress, cortisol levels are chronically elevated. I’m seeing this all the time clinically. People come in complaining, “my muscles just don’t feel like they have the integrity they used to. And I‘m getting fat, mostly around my midsection.” During the Covid era, I’m hearing this over and over and over again. It’s a really common situation.
It’s important that we get these hormones under control, but you don’t really know how to get them under control until you test them. Just a very simple blood test; I test for these hormones on every new patient. These are just three of many hormones that are included in our hormone panel. So, it’s really key to get these tested and take the guesswork out, and then apply the proper mitigation strategies for things like stress management. There’s lots of different things we can do to help control insulin. Diet is really the centerpiece. Testosterone is involved with this whole hormone cascade, so they all work together. But the idea is first to get tested and find out where you’re at, and then take the proper mitigation steps with a proper health care provider who really knows what they’re doing with hormones.
So, hopefully you learned something there. Get these things tested; it’s very easy to do. And they can really change your life, especially from a fat burning and muscle support kind of standpoint. I’ll keep reading the studies and bringing you the information, Until then, keep it real.