By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
What's causing us to get fat? Why is the food that I’m eating going into my fat cells versus going into building my muscles?
This is an important concept known as calorie partitioning. Essentially, it's about how are body divvy's up calories into fuel (immediate energy used by the muscle) or storage into your fat cells. It all comes down to hormones… I'll explain below.
This is a great concept and I have an excellent animated video that I will attach with in the post to help make this concept clearer. In the end it all comes down to hormones. So first things’ first, what’s a hormone? A hormone is, essentially, a chemical messenger (these hormones float throughout our body, we have thyroid hormone, we have glucagon, insulin, testosterone, growth hormone). All of these hormones float throughout the body and they bind to receptor sites.
Think of a hormone, maybe, as a baseball and the receptor’s site as the catcher’s mitt. The hormone, essentially, does not necessarily have a response until it binds to a receptor. So, basically, a baseball in a catcher’s mitt (receptor; hormone) and then we have what’s called a response, our proteomic response, which creates a metabolic reaction in the body.
When certain hormones like estrogen hit a receptor, we have a different response than maybe when testosterone hits a receptor. Different hormones have different roles, that's why our goal is to stimulate the hormones that keep us healthy and allow us to look, feel and perform at our best!
Everything that I recommend to help change body composition and help increase your metabolism (and all metabolism means is help burn more energy ideally from fat sources for fuel) addresses diet, lifestyle, and the exercise side of health. When your hormones are in order this gives your body the best possible scenario to burn more fat for fuel.
One of the things that we see, essentially, is when patients eat certain foods that are more inflammatory or refined or higher sugars, we are dumping more of our calories into our fat cell. If the fat cells are storing these calories we'll see them accumulate in size and get bigger and bigger and bigger. When our fat calls are accumulating in size this means our mitochondria (or the furnace in our cells) don’t really have access to burn these fuels for energy.
One of the most common things we see as we’re storing fat, we’re actually becoming very fatigued, tired, and we don’t feel too well. And we definitely don’t wanna exercise because we’d rather be sitting’ on the couch watching a movie and doing nothing at all. When you’re tired, it takes energy to want to go out and go work out. When eat more food like that, we’re going to making more insulin, we’re going to be making more cortisol, we’re going to be making an excessive amount of leptin. Over time, we see these cells become numb to these hormones, the fancy word is known as receptor down regulation or receptor resistance, maybe you’ve heard of insulin resistance or lepton resistance before?All that means is our cells become numb to the hormone and the fuel substrate goes into that fat cell and not to our furnace to get burnt up.
On the other side of things, we have calories floating in our blood stream. When we make specific hormones such as glucagon, lipoprotein lipase, hormone sensitive lipase, and epinephrine, we’re able to drive more of our calories into our mitochondria. By that hormone response our mitochondria can burn those calories up for energy and we feel good. When our metabolism is revved up, we have more energy and we’re more likely to exercise. I see a healthy body composition as a byproduct of doing the right things in your diet and lifestyle to provide healthy hormonal response.
It takes a lot of willpower to exercise when you’re tired. If we create the right environment regarding what we eat and how our lifestyle is, we’re going to have more energy, more of our calories are gonna go into our mitochondria to get burned up and our metabolism is gonna be healthier, we’re gonna burn more fat for fuel, and we’ll be able to put more muscle on our body and look leaner and more tone.