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Build Muscle: Burn More Fat

While you can't change a slow metabolic genetic predisposition, you can still burn fat more efficiently, add more muscle, and get and stay healthy.

If shedding fat is your goal consider these critically important things to help you:

  • Focus on improving your physiology and health and revving up your metabolism instead of being obsessed with restricting calories.
  • The real health issue is not losing "weight," but excess fat, especially at the waist. We all have different frames. Measure your success with percent body fat/lean tissue.
  • Increase muscle mass to burn more fat. The more muscle you have, the more energy you will burn - 24 hours a day.
  • Eating every three hours (5-6 smaller meals per day) increases metabolism. The flip side, eating one or two meals per day will lead to weight gain. "Miss more than 12 hours without eating and your metabolic rate can go DOWN as much as 40% !" (Weatherby, ND, Grisanti, DC, Bramos, ACE).
  • A slow metabolism may also be caused by eating the wrong kind of food, the worst offenders being those that contain trans fats and high fructose corn syrup (Weatherby, ND).
  • It is essential to eat breakfast to increase metabolism.
  • "Eating protein can step up metabolism by 14%." Dr. Weatherby recommends eating up to 1 gram for every pound of body weight.
  •  Eat 30-50 grams of fiber, especially the soluble kind, which lowers insulin levels and fat production.
  • William Ferril, MD in, "The Body Heals," says emphatically that "obesity can be cured only when hormones are optimal, and not until."  

There are seven main hormones involved: insulin, IGF-1, cortisol, androgens, thyroid, epinephrine, estrogen.

  1. Insulin is the biggest fat maker. Storing fat abdominally is powerfully associated with unhealthy insulin levels and a vicious cycle of failed diet attempts and progressive fat gain. Higher-than-optimal insulin levels stimulates the appetite, leading to an obsessive desire for more carbohydrates, overeating, abdominal obesity, increasing triglycerides (fats) in the liver's blood supply, and, eventually, ineffective insulin receiving sites (keys to the locks don't work) leading to insulin resistance causing even more insulin to be produced. 
  2. IGF-1 is the only dependable indicator of bio-available growth hormone in the body.  In a healthy person, IGF-1 levels are 100 times insulin levels.  When there is an ample supply of IGF-1, there is less need for insulin.
  3. Cortisol is secreted with perceived stress.  Today, however, most stress is mental; cortisol increases blood sugar, which raises insulin, thereby increasing fat storage. With middle age and obesity, DHEA drops, leading to lower IGF-1 levels, more insulin and more fat. 
  4. Androgens (androstenedione, DHEA, testosterone, and possibly progesterone) are the anti-fat hormones.  They oppose cortisol and insulin.
  5. Estrogen can contribute to obesity in some females when levels are too high in relation to progesterone, causing a condition known as "estrogen dominance," raising insulin and lowering androgens.
  6. Thyroid optimal function is critical to metabolism.  Consider a doctor with ample thyroid experience.
  7. Epinephrine is necessary to activate cortisol and thyroid receptors to maintain normal metabolism. 

Dr. Dennis Godby, Doctor of Naturopathy, Sutter Medical Foundation.
He may be reached online or at his Sacramento Office (916) 446-2591.

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