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Thursday, October 8, 2015

How To Activate The Fat Burning Process Lipolysis; On A Molecular Level


Day in and day out, the most asked about topic in fitness has something to do with getting rid of body fat. Often I will get asked “Hey Kingsley, how do I lose belly fat” or “Hey, how do I lose fat around my legs and get shredded.” I am not a nutritionist, but I do know a thing or two about how the body breaks down (burns) fat. And the first step in you dropping body fat is too also understand how Lipolysis works.


Women grabbing her tummy


So I’m sure many of you don’t know nor have ever heard of Lipolysis before. Unless you were forced to take cell biology in undergrad. (I feel bad for those who had to).

No worries, after a quick google search you will find:
Lipolysis /lɨˈpɒlɨsɪs/ is the breakdown of lipids( fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K),monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others) and involves hydrolysis) of triglycerides into glycerol and free fatty acids. The following hormones induce lipolysis: epinephrine, norepinephrine, ghrelin, growth hormone, testosterone, and cortisol.
Lipolysis can also be defined as “lipid splitting.”

But in simpleton terms, lipolysis is the process of breaking down lipids (fats such as monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids) into fatty acid which is then transferred in the blood stream by attaching itself to plasma albumin( a protein in blood) to active tissue. The body will either store fatty acids throughout the body or burn off fatty acids in the mitochondria of your cells as energy (known as beta mitochondrial oxidation).

So why should you care?

There are people who just want to get “thin” or tone up, and then there are people who want to bulk up and get shredded. But at the end of the day, almost 95% of anyone who goes into the gym has a goal of reducing some body fat.

And on a molecular level, the only way that fat gets burned off starts with the activation of lipolysis.

So how does lipolysis get activated?

Well, I’m glad you asked (even though this a rhetorical question).

Stimulating the adrenergic receptor is a crucial step of lipolysis. What that means is that adrenergic receptors found in cells throughout the body stimulate the nervous system to release adrenaline.

Lipolysis begins with the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline in your body. And your body will not be able to burn fat without them

When you exercise, your body will release adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and Noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine). What do they do?
A. Epinephrine plays an important role in the fight-or-flight response by increasing blood flow to muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation, and blood sugar. Epinephrine does this by its effects on alpha and beta receptors.
B. While norepinephrine gets your body ready to respond physically to what may be a perceived as a stressor.
These hormones are meant to assist you when your body is stressed (from strenuous activity such as exercise or injury) but they also cause your body to go into breaking fat down mode.

The final phase of lipolysis is beta mitochondrial oxidation, where fat is burned in the cell mitochondria and converted into glucose and used for energy. (Oh sh*t, yep were getting scientific. Stay with me).

So let's get familiar with what activates Lipolysis.

Activators of lipolysis 

1. Omega 3 fats – Which can be taken as an over the counter supplement. I recommend taking Omega 3s before a workout and with large meals. Or getting extra fish into your diet.
One thing that can remind you to get more fish in your diet is to think about how countries such as China, Japan, Greece, and a number of Mediterranean countries have less obesity per capita than that of the United States. Those countries all have and lead the world in consumption of seafood. Keep that in mind.
2. Adrenaline and noradrenaline - These hormones are naturally occurring. But, Tryptophan, which is found naturally in foods such as eggs, red meat, turkey, and dairy products, is a precursor for serotonin. These foods are also precursors for norepinephrine. If you improve the quality of food in your diet to include fresh fruits (raspberries are great), vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy products can help increase available serotonin and norepinephrine. 
3. Caffeine – Caffeine inhibits phosphodiesterase, which causes a build-up of cAMP levels and greater effect of norepinephrine on fatty acid lipolysis. Phosphodiesterase stunts lipolysis, therefore inhibiting phosphodiesterase will allow lipolysis to proceed at an accelerated rate. You should take caffeine in some sort of form before working out.
4. Thyroid hormones 
5. Aerobic training after fasting – Doing cardio on an empty stomach has been observed to activate lipolysis. However it is strongly recommended not do strength training on an empty stomach.
Additional Supplements that you can add your system:
6. L-Carnitine – L-carnitine increases exercise performance by increasing fat oxidation.
7. Raspberries – Increases both lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.(read more)
8. Green tea extract – Green tea has thermogenic effects and has been shown to assist in weight loss by decreasing dietary fat absorption, appetite suppression, and catechol-O-methyl-transferase (COMT) inhibition. Green tea extract increases lipolysis, making more fatty acids available to be burned.
9. Sesamin – Found in sesame seeds increases the genes involved in fat oxidation, increasing one's capacity to burn fat and also decreases fat storage
10. Cayenne pepper or chili peppers – There is a nutrient known as capsaicin found in peppers. Capsaicin increases thermogenesis by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood circulation. Blood flow to adipose tissue is extremely important for the transportation of fatty acids to be burned. Increasing blood flow allows for more fatty acids to be delivered to tissues, where they can be burned for energy.

Suppressors of lipolysis

1. Alcohol – This really shouldn’t be a big surprise. Alcohol also decreases adrenergic receptor stimulation, so it clearly decreases lipolysis and whole-body fatty acid oxidation. You should limit alcohol consumption to 24-48 hours post workout just to prevent this from happening. Alcohol will also inhibit protein synthesis.
2. Beta blockers – Beta blockers block adrenergic receptors, it should not be surprising that their use is linked with weight gain, reduced energy expenditure, and whole-body thermogenesis.
3. Insulin – Insulin triggers the absorption of glucose by liver, muscle, and fat cells, thus lowering the blood sugar level. Additionally, insulin stimulates the uptake of fatty acids by fat cells, which convert these molecules into triglycerides -- the primary storage form of fat in your body. Thereby going back to square one in the process. This is known as lipogenesis which we do not want!

Last few things to keep in mind

Once your body enters lipolysis, releases adrenaline and noradrenaline, breaks down triglycerides and other lipids down into fatty acids, flows through the blood stream, and going through mitochondrial beta oxidation, you will also want to make sure your capillary density increases.

Blood flow is essential, and you want to have as much free fatty acids possible floating to the mitochondria where it can be burned.

How to increase you capillary size

It should be common knowledge by now why exercise and strength training is so critical. Doing high intensity workouts not only kick start lipolysis, but also expand capillaries. 

If you want to go the supplement route to increase capillaries size, then products such as Diosmin, Creatine, and Yohimbine HCl are great.

After reading this article, you now know why you see all types of crazy ingredients such as creatine, tryptophan, carnosine(beta alanine), carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, and tyrosine (crucial to the production of norepinephrine) in supplements such as protein shakes.

But just remember, the most important thing you can do for your body is to get regular and consistent exercise. Your body knows what it needs. Everything I have mentioned so far is just to give you that extra edge.

Build more muscle, and you will definitely have lipolysis occurring more often than not. And add some of the tips I have mentioned into your diet and you will be guaranteed to see fat loss. Happy lifting! 

– The Fittest

Did I miss anything about how fat is burned? If so, please comment below.

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