Through diet and exercise, you can control all of the major hormones in-volved in muscle growth and fat loss, namely insulin, glucagon, and growth hormone. Your diet and exercise habits set up a “hormonal environment” inside your body which determines if nutrients will be stored in the lean compartment or the fat compartment. A few fairly simple manipulations in your food intake and in your workouts will make all the difference in the world. Let’s take a look at how this all works. Dietary Manipulation of Hormones The best place to start in explaining these hormones is with insulin and gluca-gon . These hormones are among the most potent determiners of fat storage and fat loss. Luckily, the levels of these hormones are entirely determined by diet, so you can have control over them by carefully regu-lating what you eat. Insulin and glucagon are both produced by the pancreas, but have exactly opposite effects. Their chief concern is the regulation of blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Your brain requires a constant supply of glucose for fuel, so the blood glucose level is tightly regulated to make sure the brain never runs out of gas . When you eat carbohydrates, they are digested and absorbed by the small intestine and transported directly to the liver via the portal vein. Essentially, all of the carbohydrate you eat is converted to glucose by the liver before being released into the bloodstream. After a meal your blood glucose level rises as carbohydrates are released. This rise in blood sugar trig-gers a release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is required to help move glucose into cells . Once inside cells, the glucose is burned for energy or stored as glycogen. Everything is fine so far. The problem arises when carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream too fast. This causes too much insulin to be released. When insulin levels get too high, some of the carbohydrate is converted to fat instead of being stored as glycogen. Also, if insulin levels get too high this actually causes too much sugar to be moved into cells. This results in “hypoglycemia,” which means low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is too low, you feel very tired. Simple sug-ars cause your blood sugar level to spike, then paradoxically to decrease to a lower level than before (because of insulin over-release).
This is why the rate of digestion of your meals is important. Stay away from foods containing simple sugars (sweets, fruit, dairy products) and refined carbo-hydrates (bread and pasta) because these are released into the bloodstream too fast, causing too much insulin to be released. This channels calories to fat stores. Combining protein and fibrous carbs with your starches, and avoiding simple and refined carbohydrates, slows the release of glucose into the blood-stream resulting in a lower, but longer, insulin release. This gives you a uni-form energy level and channels calo-ries toward muscle and away from fat. Glucagon has the opposite effect of insu-lin. An increase in blood sugar triggers a release of insulin but inhibits glucagon re-lease.
Glucagon is released several hours after a meal when blood sugar levels drop. Glucagon reduces glucose for energy and stimulates breakdown of body fat and the use of fat for energy. Glucagon also stimu-lates glycogen breakdown. The net result of glucagon is to raise the glucose levels back to normal and to signal the body to begin using fat for energy since it ís run-ning low on carbs. Your body’s ratio or insulin to gluca-gon is determined solely by the ratio of protein to carbohydrate in your diet. For weight loss, you generally want to limit your carb:protein ratio to 1.0:1.5 and use CapTri® to make up for the carb energy you’ve reduced (CapTri® is a specially engineered fat that is burned like a carb in the body). For muscle gain, you will want to increase the carb:protein ratio as well as increasing total calories .
Generally, you want to consume about 1.5 times as many calories from carbohydrate as protein. When you’re trying to gain weight, you want a little more insulin so you eat a little more carbohydrate. One last thing about insulin. In addi-tion to it enhancing transport of glucose inside cells, it is also required for trans-port of certain amino acids into cells. These include the branched chain amino acids, and this is why it is important to take your Muscle-Amino Formula™ with meals and not on an empty stomach. It has been found that neither insulin nor growth hormone alone is sufficient to stimulate growth; you have to have both of them together at the same time. This is at least partly due to the fact that these two hormones act to transport different sets of amino acids inside cells, and you need all of the amino acids present at the same time in order for growth to occur (1).
Exercise Manipulation of Hormones While insulin and glucagon are con-trolled entirely by diet, the most effective way to control growth hormone (GH) is by exercise (2,3). This is why exercise is required to gain muscle and lose fat. If you try to lose weight by cutting calories, about half of the weight you lose will be muscle. Conversely, if you gain weight simply by increasing calories (without exercising) you’ll just get fat. Exercise is required to set up the proper hormonal mi-lieu allowing selective fat loss and muscle gain. The favorable effects of exercise in increasing muscle mass while decreasing fat stores are mediated largely through growth hormone, testosterone and epinephrine. Therefore, to sculpt the ultimate physique, we have to talk about effective training strategies to optimize growth hor-mone.
Growth hormone is the most important hormone responsible for normal growth during childhood. Without growth hormone, a person will never at-tain adult stature. Growth hormone has profound effects on the growth of the skeleton as well as the muscles. Tes-tosterone and estrogen produced during puberty cause the skeleton to mature and stop growing, but growth hormone still promotes muscle growth and fat loss in adults . There are several things you can do to naturally increase your GH levels. One is to get a good night’s sleep. Growth hor-mone is released maximally during sleep, normally about three hours after you fall asleep. Trying to build muscle without getting enough rest is nearly impossible. Second, GH release is increased during and just after intense exercise (2,3). The most effective training style for increas-ing GH release is high volume training (2,3,4). I recommend a mixture of low rep, medium rep and high rep work to maximally stimulate all the muscle fibers as well as train the nervous system. This results in optimal increases in size and strength .
Third, eat a high-protein diet con-sisting of egg whites, white meat poul-try, fish, and protein supplements such as Parrillo Hi-Protein™ Powder. Protein not only stimulates GH release, but also provides the building blocks you need to build new muscle tissue. Fourth, certain combinations of amino acids have been shown to increase GH release and result in increased lean body mass (4). Enhanced GH Formula™ contains the most effec-tive combination ever developed. Take it on an empty stomach just before training and before bed. Of course, merely having a detailed intellectual understanding of how nutri-tion and exercise come together in your body to build muscle and burn fat does nothing to achieve those results. It’s up to you to put this information to use in the gym and at the dinner table.
1. de Castro JM, Paullin SK and DeLugas GM. Insulin and glucagon as determinants of body weight set point and microregula-tion in rats. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 92: 571-579, 1978 .
2. Remington DW, Fisher AG, and Parent EA. How to Lower your Fat Thermo-stat. Vitality House International, Provo, 1983 .
3. Guyton, AC. Textbook of Medical Physiology. W.B. Saunders, 1991.
4. Johnson LR. Essential Medical Physi-ology. Raven Press, New York, 1992.