by ICANS Editorial Team
It is incredibly frustrating when you aren’t losing body fat even though you think you’re doing things right. If you’re tired all the time on top of everything, it can feel hopeless.
You need to identify what is going on behind the scenes physiologically so that you can increase your energy levels, help the body start burning fat, and kickstart fat loss. This tip will explain how this happens and give you nutrients that will restore metabolic function so that you start experiencing changes in body composition.
Three interrelated things need to be solved when it comes to achieving fat loss:
- Blood sugar management needs to be restored.
- Insulin levels need to go down
- Fat burning needs to increase
If you are tired most of the time and have trouble seeing changes in body composition, it’s a good bet that your blood sugar is not well regulated. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates are digested into the blood stream as glucose (sugar), providing energy for cells throughout the body. Insulin is released from the pancreas to facilitate the use of glucose for energy. In an ideal world, your cells are very responsive to insulin and blood sugar is tightly controlled.
However, in response to lack of physical activity, too many calories, and a diet high in unhealthy carbs, your body’s ability to control blood sugar can become dysregulated so that you experience large peaks and valleys in glucose. Poor glucose management is associated with hunger, food cravings, and fatigue.
In a healthy body, blood sugar is tightly regulated, with the pancreas releasing just enough insulin to store glucose, while maintaining blood sugar in the ideal range. However, in response to blood sugar spikes, the pancreas will overestimate the amount of insulin needed, releasing too much. Any time insulin is elevated, an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), which mobilizes fat stores so that you can use it for energy, will be blocked. At the same time, lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which stores fat, will be elevated.
Another thing that happens when too much insulin is present is that the receptors on your cells become less sensitive, meaning that even more insulin is needed to regulate the same amount blood sugar. In this environment, insulin levels are high and fat storage increases, whereas the ability to burn fat shuts down. Because energy isn’t getting into cells as it should you’ll be more likely to feel fatigue and have poor exercise tolerance.
To solve this situation, several things can help:
Removing refined carbs and lowering your overall carbohydrate intake in favor of fat and protein will lead to better blood sugar management.
A healthy low-carb, higher fat diet will also help restore insulin sensitivity and encourage the body to burn body fat.
Exercise automatically sensitizes cells to insulin and helps increase enzymes necessary for fat burning.
Additionally, there are three nutrients that people tend to be chronically low in that are essential to restore energy levels and kickstart fat loss:
EPA and DHA are the omega-3 fats that are found in fish oil. EPA and DHA are important because they will improve the sensitivity of every cell in your body to insulin. Cells are made up of a lipid bilayer—basically, a double layer of fat. The type of fat you eat dictates which fats make up this layer, impacting the health of the cell. Cells that have a greater incorporation of omega-3 fat in them are more sensitive to insulin. Omega-3 fats also impact fat burning and metabolic rate, making them an essential component of any diet geared at reducing body fat.
Carnitine is an amino acid composite that is responsible for the transport of fats into cells so that they can be used for energy in the body. By elevating carnitine levels, fat burning increases and you give the cell the right genetic machinery to raise metabolism. You’ll have more energy and be more active, raising the number of calories you burn through spontaneous physical activity during the day.
Magnesium is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and it has an insulin sensitizing effect on cells. Magnesium is also necessary to produce energy in the body. You’ll remember that ATP is the unit of energy that is produced by the mitochondria. Magnesium is necessary for the conversion from ADP into the usable energy source, ATP.
Most people are deficient in one or all three of these nutrients. For example, the most common protein sources for people who are trying to lose body fat are eggs and chicken. But neither provides sufficient carnitine or omega-3s for energy production or insulin health.
Magnesium is available in leafy greens, nuts, and grains; however, people rarely have sufficient intake of any of these foods to avoid magnesium deficiency.
Therefore, the first step to kickstarting fat loss is to raise your levels of these three nutrients:
For omega-3 fats, up to 3 grams a day is recommended, which can be gotten from a combination of eating fish a few times a week and supplementing with a high-quality fish oil.
For carnitine, 2 to 4 grams has been shown to improve body composition and increase exercise performance during intense training, indicating an improvement in energy production. Carnitine has also been shown to and lower rating of perceived exertion
Magnesium requirements will depend on the composition of your diet—higher carb diets require more magnesium—but a general recommendation is 10 mg per kg of body weight or 650 mg for a 65-kg person.