Everything Fat: Fats to eat, hormones fat secretes and hacks to help – pt 1

Good day to you all and a good whatever-time-of-day you’re reading this! So today we are going to talk about all things fat. This will likely be a two-part series, because the more I got into this topic, the larger it became, and I realized that for a full understanding we’re going to need to learn about a ton of topics; from the endocrine role of fat tissue in our body, to more practical applications of how its made and which oils and fats to consume in our diets.

So first, fat is a dietary macronutrient along with proteins and carbohydrates. Fat contains 9 kilocalories per gram versus the 4 kilocalories per gram from the other macronutrients. The primary function of the various fat molecules in the body are: a storage form of energy, composing cell membranes, heat regulation by insulating against cold, proper functioning of the brain by insulating neurons (brains cells), cushions and keeps our organs safe, and it plays a vital role in regulating hunger and satiety to keep a ‘set point’ of metabolism.

The amount of fat that we have is largely based on our diet, activity levels, hormones and hormone sensitivity, our epigenetics and lifestyle factors, such as sleep and stress. There are different types of fat in our body: visceral, abdominal, subcutaneous, brown and white fat. These different kinds of fat release different hormones and are more or less metabolically active. 

Now that we’ve got our ‘base’ lets talk about which oils we should eat more of and which we should eat less of. 

Which fats to eat and which to avoid:

Here’s an awesome graphic that explains which fats to eat and avoid from Nutritionist to the L.A. Lakers, Dr. Cate:

1. Oils to avoid all-together: Vegetable oils, soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil

These are oils that are extracted from seeds like Soybean, Cottonseed, Sunflower and a few others. They were never available to humans until the 20th century, because we simply didn’t have the technology to extract them. The way these oils are manufactured involves bleaching, deodorizing and the highly toxic solvent hexane. Many of these oils are marketed in ‘healthy’ salad dressings, mayonnaise, butter substitutes and much more.

2. Oils to enjoy:  Unrefined oils and low-PUFA fats and oils

Avocado oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, duck fat, Ghee, Lard, Olive oil, peanut oil, tallow, sesame oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, almond oil, macadamia nut oil.

Also: anything that says cold-pressed and unrefined. IT MUST SAY UNREFINED. 

3. Use these for Cooking:

Almond oil, avocado oil, butter, coconut oil, duck fat, ghee, lard, macadamia nut oil, peanut oil, tallow.

4. DON’T Use these for Cooking:

Flax oil, sesame oil, walnut oil.

5. Limited Use Oils:

Oils that have been refined but because of their fatty acid profile they can handle the process without a significant amount of mutated fatty acids and are therefore less toxic. They do have less minerals and anti-oxidants due to this process. Think of them as empty calories.

6. DON’T use these oils:

Vegetable oils are so toxic in our bodies because they contain a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs are unstable, and break down rapidly when exposed to chemical stress.

The refining process exposes these PUFAs to heat, pressure, metals and bleaching agents, and chemically alters the molecules into a wide variety of potent toxins with long names like 4-hydroxynonanal and 4-hydroxyhexanol, aldehydes, and others. These molecules are toxic because they promote free-radical reactions that damage our cellular machinery including mitochondria, enzymes, hormone receptors, and DNA.

Omega-3, Omega-6, and Double Bonds:

It’s not the Omega-6, it’s the oxidation and the free radicals that Omega-6 fatty acids produce that damage cells. Vegetable oils are toxic because the fats they contain are oxidized. And it’s the double bonds that make PUFAs susceptible to oxidation. But omega-3 fats have more double bonds than omega-6, generally speaking, and so seeds with a high omega-3 content, like canola, actually lead to more toxic degradation products than seeds with a high omega-6, like soy (all else being equal). However, both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are important for proper function, especially in the nervous system (including the brain).

Fat as an endocrine gland

Leptin 

A hormone whose primary function is regulating appetite. Leptin is “a peptide hormone that is produced by fat cells that plays a role in body weight regulation by acting on the hypothalamus to suppress appetite and burn fat stored in adipose tissue.”

Leptin is known as the starvation hormone (or sometimes the “satiety hormone”) because it notifies your brain if you have eaten enough and your energy levels (calorie intake) are sufficient, or if your energy intake needs to increase. A number of factors can influence leptin and ghrelin levels, including:

 Calorie intake

 Meal timing

 Sleep/wake schedule and sleep duration (both linked to your circadian rhythmn)

 Light exposure

 Exercise

 Stress

The main regulator of leptin production is body fat (or adipose tissue). Levels fluctuate depending on your current weight, especially your percentage of body fat. Leptin is produced mainly by adipocytes (fat cells), which is why levels of leptin usually increase when someone gains more body fat , and decrease when someone loses weight. Leptin also plays an important role in the regulation of the reproductive system, thyroid gland, adrenal glands and growth hormone production. (4)

Leptin does its job by binding to and activating receptors in the brain known as LEPR-B receptors. When leptin levels go up your hunger should decrease, while at the same time you start consciously and unconsciously increasing energy expenditure (the amount of “calories burned”). This feedback system helps most people to prevent too much weight gain.


However, when a person experiences excessive levels of leptin for too long (for example, because of the presence of excess adipose tissue; i.e. obesity), they develop leptin resistance. This results in a dysregulation in the brain’s ability to accurately assess satiety and energy balance, and excessive hunger occurs despite the presence of more than sufficient levels of energy stores in the body.

Grehlin

Leptin and ghrelin are two of the many hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, appetite and body weight. Where leptin is considered the main”satiety hormone” because higher levels decrease appetite, ghrelin is considered the main “hunger hormone” because it increases desire to eat.

When levels of ghrelin and leptin are disrupted, your ability to eat when you are truly hungry and stop when you are full can become severely compromised, leading to changes in body weight and other related consequences. Even though these two hormones have opposite effects, they work together in balance, and diet and lifestyle changes that help to regulate leptin are also helpful for controlling ghrelin.

Adiponectin

Many studies have found adiponectin to be inversely correlated with body mass index in patient populations.[9] Circulating adiponectin concentrations increase during caloric restriction in animals and humans, such as in patients with anorexia. This observation is surprising, given that adiponectin is produced by adipose tissue. However, a recent study suggests that adipose tissue within bone marrow, which increases during caloric restriction, contributes to elevated circulating adiponectin in this context.[11] 

The hormone plays a role in the suppression of the metabolic derangements that may result in Type 2 diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and as an independent risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Adiponectin in combination with leptin has been shown to completely reverse insulin resistance in mice.[14]Adiponectin exerts some of its weight reduction effects via the brain. This is similar to the action of leptin, but the two hormones perform complementary actions, and can have synergistic effects.

Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha

Promotes inflammation, produces inflammation, this is secreted most by abdominal visceral fat, or deep belly fat. See more below.

Subcutaneous

Subcutaneous fat can shift around and move when you pinch it; its right under the skin and can fold. It mainly consists of white fat, but there can be some brown fat present, more if you’re constantly in cold water.

Visceral Fat

Exists in the body cavities, such as in the abdomen under the abdominal musculature; this can produce the hard “beer-belly” appearance. Visceral fat made of mostly white fat and is linked to cancer, high blood pressure, and dementia. Visceral fat secretes fatty acids directly into the hepatic portal vein that drains to the liver and can produce fatty liver disease, as well as promote unhealthy fat storage in the pancreas, heart, and other organs. An example of this is fatty liver disease, heart disease and Because visceral fat negatively impacts the microbiome of the gut, it can affect the gut-brain axis and contribute to dementia. While these organs can store fatty acids, they aren’t supposed to until there is a huge overflow, and ‘lipotoxicity’ (cellular and tissue damage due to fats) occurs.


In addition, visceral fat secretes Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha, an inflammatory cytokine that is distributed widely in the body and causes inflammation distant to the viscera itself.


How and why does visceral fat accumulate? 

Compared to subcutaneous fat, central visceral fat has more cortisol and insulin receptors; therefore, you are more likely to store fat there if you have chronic high cortisol and/or insulin due to poor diet, insufficient sleep, and unhealthy levels of stress. Additionally, it is very difficult to decrease levels of visceral fat without controlling cortisol, insulin, and stress. Testosterone, growth hormone and estrogens will have an opposite effect so you can also control your visceral belly fat by increasing these hormones by doing heavy full body lifting such as deadlifts, squats, cleans and snatches, and sprinting. Adequate sleep is also important for keeping growth hormone elevated. Other micronutrients are very important as well: high zinc and vitamin D, for instance. Ensuring you have good estrogen through maintaining a healthy liver – glutathione and other antioxidant in particular  support the liver.

Brown fat 

Seen in babies and people who do a lot of things in cold water. Brown fat burns calories to generate heat, is subcutaneous and makes very little tumor necrosis factor alpha.

White fat 

The classic fat that you envision when someone says ‘fat.’ Needs very few calories and is our storage form of energy. But it is hardly inert: it is extremely active as an endocrine gland, or in its creation of hormones.

A possible mechanism as to how exercise assists in ‘leaning you out’ past mere calorie burn and the increase in metabolism produced by increasing lean muscle mass.

Irisin 

A hormone produced by muscle and converts brown fat to white fat, as well as improves the ability of fat cells to utilize stored fat for energy. Irisin is a primary way that muscle-building exercise may aid in weight control and help to fend off diabetes. 

Irisin (named for the Greek goddess Iris) entered the scientific literature in 2012 after researchers from Harvard and other universities published a study in Nature that showed the previously unknown hormone was created in working muscles in mice. From there, it would enter the bloodstream and migrate to other tissues, particularly to fat, where it would jump-start a series of biochemical processes that caused some of the fat cells, normally white, to turn brown.

In the 2012 study, the researchers reported that if they injected irisin into living mice, it not only turned some white fat into brown fat, it apparently also prevented the rodents from becoming obese, even on a high-fat, high-calorie diet.

Best training 

The best type of training for burning fat is ‘concurrent training’ of strength and aerobic:

Such as a: 5 rounds of 10 deadlift, 20 wall balls and a 60 second sprint versus just strength training or just aerobic training

Sleep – 

Less sleep means higher cortisol and less insulin sensitivity and more visceral fat, as well as decreased levels of growth hormone which makes building muscle much more difficult.

Supplementation – 

  1. Catachins : in chocolate, red wine, green tea and berries that helps burn fat.
  2. catichins + caffeine: seen in green tea and cacoa  (no sugars and starches)
  3. Caffeine: before a long Slow cardio in the morning fasted – bike, jog, hike etc
  4. Johimbe: supplement that is a bit too much of a stimulant but works really well
    1. CNS stimulant. Kion lean (improves blood glucose effects and increases insulin resistance) apple cider vinegar, salon cinnamon, green tea, etc. 
  5. DIP – in broccoli and cauliflower
    1. diendylilemethane – endol group attached to a methane group – lowers estrogen in women who are estrogen prominent or guys with man boobs, also has promise for anti-cancer effects. (cruciferous veggies). Effect on fat loss only if you have estrogen dominance. If a man is taking testosterone and converting to estrogen…use this. Don’t purchase DIM, Purchase as endol-3-carbonyl because its better absorbed in SI and converted to DIM in the liver (good for liver detox) 400mg a couple times a day 1000-1500mg total (good after drinking).
  6. Things that mimic metforminMetformin has blood sugar and longevity effects and therefore helps you decrease fat: Berberine and Ashuaganda are the two natural versions highest on my list
    1. berberine – Berberine is able to reduce glucose production in the liver. Berberine’s main mechanism is partly responsible for its anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects. Berberine is able to activate an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) while inhibiting Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B).
    2. Ashuaganda or rather it’s active compound, withiferin – topped the list. It’s an adaptogenic herb with similarity to rapamycin and metfomin in that it’s a steroidal lactone. It is used in traditional indian medicine most.

Additional Info On Ashuaganda:


Popular in Ayurvedic medicine, shown to have an effect on lowering cortisol and balancing out thyroid hormones. In India it is known as ‘the strength of stallion’ since it is used to strengthen the immune system after illness. There have since been over 200 studies on Ashuaganda showing its ability to reduce the negative effects of stress, stabilize blood sugar, boost immunity, treat adrenal fatigue and improve thyroid function. Also known to benefit the liver and thyroid.


Animal studies reveal ashwagandha has a thyroid hormone balancing effect.  In a 20 days study mice were give ashwagandha and their T3 and T4 levels were analyzed along with lipid peroxidation (anti-oxidant protection).  Significant increases in serum T4 were found which indicates this herb has a stimulatory effect on a sluggish thyroid.

Also, ashwagandha may benefit thyroid function because it greatly reduced lipid peroxidation by promoting scavenging of free radicals that cause cellular damage.  These results prove ashwagandha can be useful in treating hypothyroidism.

There are currently millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems (many who don’t even know it) and ashwagandha may just be the solution they are searching for.

If your adrenals are overtaxed due to an overabundance of emotional, physical and mental stress, it can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. As you can see from this chart below, if your adrenals become exhausted it can also disrupt your other hormones, including progesterone, which can cause infertility and lower DHEA — which can cause you to age faster.

Medical studies have shown that ashwagandha improves cortisol levels, improves insulin sensitivity and naturally balances hormones. A case study reported a case of a 57-year-old woman with non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. She was treated with ashwagandha for six months, and after her treatment she saw improvements in four adrenal hormone markers, including corticoosterone and 11-deoxycortisol, which decreased by 69 percent and 55 percent respectively — a major improvement!This hormonal improvement was also accompanied by a noticeable reduction in hair loss.

HIIT Training – History, Why do HIIT, and how to choose your interval length

 

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which means spiking your heart rate and then having a short period of rest (or just a lower intensity move) where your heart rate can drop and recover. Then, of course, doing it over and over again.

Though there is no universal HIIT session duration, these intense workouts typically last under 30 minutes ( though they don’t have to 🙂 ). Length of high intensity intervals, rest periods and workout duration all vary based on  fitness level and length of event you are training for.

For example if you were a volleyball player using a HIIT workout for overall strength and as a means to increase time to fatigue on the court, your intervals would be short and sweet such as the classic ‘tabata scheme.’ Volleyball points are quick bursts of energy with plenty of time to recover therefore in volleyball you’ll need to be able to go all out for about 20 seconds or so and then recover fully before the next point. You need LONG intervals if your sport is LONG.

On the other hand if you are using high intensity intervals for an olympic distance triathlon (1k swim, 40k bike and 10k run) and in particular you are training your run that day, you’ll need MUCH longer high intensity intervals and longer than 10 seconds to recover. One of my favorite timed interval sets for running is a ‘ladder set.’ So in general the fittest cardiovascular athletes can recover from their max heart rate in about 2 minutes so i use this as a means to slowly mold myself into just that! warm up 10 minute jog, 2 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 6 minutes hard/2 minutes easy…then back down the ladder – 6 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy, 2 minutes hard/2 minutes easy… and then a 10 minute cooldown jog (optionally barefoot).

The key marker of cardiovascular fitness is your heart rate variability, and how quickly your heart rate can drop to normal after getting close to your max heart rate.

The best example of this in the world is the sport of Biathlon: cross country skiing which spikes your heart rate and then shooting which demands a low heart rate to steady your hands and focus. This can also be seen in basketball and any sport that requires high intensity efforts such as sprints with finesse skills such as shooting.

IF YOU ARE NOT TRAINING FOR A SPORT:

For general fitness i suggest that you start off with something like tabata which is 20 seconds of work all out followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. The total work time is only 4 minutes and it has great cardiovascular increases in just that short of a duration. You can use different exercises or the same exercise for each work interval.

Example 1: 8 rounds of: 20 seconds fast squats/10 seconds rest

Example 2: 2 rounds of: 20 sec fast squats/10 sec rest; 20 seconds of jumping jacks/10 seconds rest; 20 seconds fast back lunges/10 seconds rest; 20 seconds of mountain climbers/10 seconds rest

An example of a multi-tabata workout is like the one that i did in crossfitFBG in Fredericksburg last Friday:

8 rounds of: 20 seconds of max sit ups/10 sec rest

8 rounds of: 20 seconds sprint on the bike/10 seconds rest

8 rounds of: 20 sec kettlebell swings/10 sec rest

8 rounds of: 20 sec double unders(jump rope)/10 seconds rest

 

as you get fitter you can increase the intensity of your workouts by:

  1. going harder during your interval: do more reps and increase your heart rate higher in the interval
  2. increasing the intensity of the move itself: jump squats versus squats, plyolunges vs lunges
  3. lengthening out the duration of the high intensity interval without sacrificing intensity
  4. shortening the rest interval
  5. exchanging the rest interval for a lower intensity move (no rest)