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Bulletin #17 – Maximizing Anabolic Drive

In the previous bulletins we’ve beendiscussing nutrient partitioning and dietarystrategies to channel nutrients to the leancompartment and not to fat stores. We sawthat muscle gain and fat loss are controlledlargely by hormones — chemical signals sentout by the endocrine glands which directthe body’s metabolism.

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We discussed theinsulin-glucagon axis in detail and saw thatit has a major influence in determining theset point in the hypothalamus — the weightregulating center of the body that decideshow much fat we will carry (1,2). Insulin isthe body’s most powerful anabolic hormone,acting to transport glucose and amino acidsinto cells. This supplies energy and thebuilding blocks for growth. Insulin is re-quired for muscular growth, and indeed forlife. Glucagon has the opposite actions ofinsulin. It moves glucose and amino acidsout of cells and into the bloodstream whenblood sugar gets too low. These two pan-creatic hormones work in balance to providea relatively uniform blood glucose level, toensure that the brain doesn’t run out of fuel.The good news is that insulin and glu-cagon levels are determined solely by diet,so we can exert great control over these hor-mones by our eating habits. The Parrillo Per-formance Nutrition Program was designedto take advantage of this fact to keep insulinand glucagon at just the right levels to buildmuscle and burn fat. Last month we talkedabout how to use Pro-Carb Formula™ andHi-Protein Powder™ to fine-tune these hor-mone levels to optimize your body’s metabo-lism.The bad news, however, is that insulinis a powerful stimulus for fat growth as wellas muscle growth (3,4). It stores fat insidefat cells as well as it stores protein insidemuscle cells.

This is why on the Parrillo Pro-gram meals are structured so as to releasecarbs into the bloodstream slowly. This re-sults in a lower and more uniform insulinlevel, which helps minimize any fat storage.This is also why you should stay away fromany products high in simple carbohydrates.These products elicit a rapid, large insulinrelease. Any time you empty a lot of carbo-hydrate calories into your bloodstream veryrapidly and have a high insulin level you willstore those calories as fat. High sugar prod-ucts would be better called “fat optimizers.”The body can only build muscle so fast, butit has an unlimited ability to store fat. Musclebuilding is a slow and difficult process, andit works better when you supply your bodywith slow and steady supply of energy andnutrients. This also provides a more uniformenergy level, instead of the periods hypogly-cemia you experience after eating simple sug-ars.The bad news about glucagon is that,although it stimulates fat breakdown (lipoly-sis), its actions are mostly limited to the liver(3,4).

Like insulin, glucagon is released fromthe pancreas and transported directly to theliver by the portal vein. While enough insu-lin is released to effect the whole body, glu-cagon is released in smaller amounts andmost of it stays in the liver. Therefore, gluca-gon is not a very potent stimulator of lipoly-sis in peripheral tissues, such as body fatstores.But don’t get discouraged, the insulin-glucagon axis is still one of the most impor-tant controllers of nutrient partitioning —it’s just not the whole story. This month we’llbegin our discussion of three other hor-mones that complete the puzzle: growth hor-mone, testosterone and epinephrine. Onceyou learn how to control these hormonesand add them to your arsenal you’re likelyto see the best gains in your life, and getmore ripped than you though possible. Nowwe’re pulling out the big guns!Epinephrine, more commonly known tothe layman as adrenaline, is the body’s mostpowerful stimulus for fat breakdown (3,4).

Itis produced by the adrenal glands, two smallglands located one just above each kidney.Actually, epinephrine serves not only as ahormone by also acts as a neurotransmitterin the nervous system. This underscores therelationship of the nervous system and theendocrine system working together as a con-trol and communication network to provideinstructions to the body. Nerve impulses areconducted to the center of the adrenal gland,the adrenal medulla, by the sympathetic di-vision of the nervous system. This triggersepinephrine to be released into the blood-stream.Epinephrine has many effects. Oneyou’ve probably noticed is the “fight orflight” response  that occurs when you’rereally scared or suddenly startled. Whenyour skin and lips turn pale, you feel coldand clammy, you start sweating and yourheart pumps really hard and fast — that’sepinephrine. It’s a reaction animals havewhen they’re confronted by an enemy andhave to either fight or run away. It’s the feel-ing of being “scared to death” that most ofus have experienced at one time or another.It’s the “adrenaline rush” you get frombungee jumping. This surge of epinephrineis mediated by a large sympathetic dischargein the adrenal medulla.

This gland has a largeblood supply for its size and the epineph-rine is rapidly carried throughout the body.It primes your muscles for action and mobi-lizes fat from adipose stores to provide en-ergy. It increases your heart rate, blood pres-sure and the force of your heart’s contrac-tions.Under normal conditions, epinephrineis delivered to fat cells mostly by direct in-nervation of the fat cells by the sympatheticnervous system, rather than systematic re-lease to the whole body from the adrenalmedulla. Its release is increased during exercise, and this is the primary mechanismwhereby exercise serves as a stimulus for fatloss. Epinephrine binds to receptors on fatcells and generates a  metabolite called cy-clic AMP, or cAMP. cAMP activates an en-zyme called protein kinase, which in turnactivates another enzyme called hormonesensitive lipase.

Hormone sensitive lipasebreaks down triglycerides (the molecular formin which body fat is stored) into free fattyacids (FFAs) and glycerol. The FFAs thenleave the fat cell and are carried by the bloodto the muscles, where they are burned forenergy (3,4). This is how exercise works tohelp you lose fat.While insulin and glucagon are con-trolled entirely by diet, the most effectiveway to control growth hormone, testoster-one and epinephrine is by exercise (5,6). Thisis why exercise is required to gain muscleand lose fat. If you try to lose weight bycutting calories, about half of the weight youwill lose will be muscle. Conversely, if yougain weight simply by increasing calories(without exercising) you’ll just get fat. Exer-cise is required to set up the proper hormonalmilieu allowing selective fat loss and musclegain. The favorable effects of exercise in in-creasing muscle mass while decreasing fatstores are mediated largely through growthhormone, testosterone and epinephrine.

Therefore, to really fine tune nutrient parti-tioning to sculpt the ultimate physique, wehave to talk about effective training strate-gies to optimize these hormones.Growth hormone (GH) is the most im-portant hormone responsible for normalgrowth during childhood. Without growthhormone, a person will never attain adult stat-ure. Growth hormone has profound effectson the growth of the skeleton as well as themuscles. Testosterone and estrogen pro-duced during puberty cause the skeleton tomature and stop growing, but growth hor-mone still promotes muscle growth and fatloss in adults. Growth hormone is releasedfrom the pituitary gland when it receives theappropriate signals. One of these signals is“growth hormone releasing hormone”(GHRH) which comes from the hypothala-mus.There are several things you can do tonaturally increase your GH levels. One is toget a good night’s sleep. Growth hormone isreleased maximally during sleep, normallyabout three hours after you fall asleep. Try-ing to build muscle without getting enoughrest is nearly impossible. Second, GH releaseis increased during and just after intenseexercise (5,6).

The most effective trainingstyle for increasing GH release is high vol-ume training (5,6,7). We recommend a mix-ture of low rep, medium rep and high repwork to maximally stimulate all the musclefibers as well as train the nervous system.This results in optimal increases in size andstrength. The ultimate training program forbodybuilders is described in the Parrillo Per-formance Training Manual and High Perfor-mance Bodybuilding book. Third, eat a highprotein diet. This not only stimulates GH re-lease, but also provides the building blocksyou need to build new muscle tissue. Fourth,certain combinations of amino acids havebeen shown to increase GH release and re-sult in increased lean body mass (7). En-hanced GH Formula™ contains the most ef-fective combination ever developed. Take iton an empty stomach (this is important) justbefore training and before bed.In the following bulletins we’ll continueour discussion of muscle-building and fat-burning hormones and talk more aboutgrowth hormone and testosterone. The mostexciting part of the story is yet to come! Ofcourse, merely having a detailed intellectualunderstanding of how nutrition and exercisecome together in your body to build muscleand burn fat does nothing to achieve thoseresults. It’s up to you to put this informationto use in the gym and at the dinner table.Don’t forget the basics of the Parrillo Phi-losophy: dedication, consistency and hardwork. So train hard, eat right and do youraerobics. And have a great summer!


1. de Castro JM, Paullin SK, andDeLugas GM. Insulin and glucagon as de-terminants of body weight set point andmicroregulation in rats. J. Comp. Physiol.Psychol. 92: 571-579, 1978.

2. Remington DW, Fisher AG, and Par-ent EA. How to Lower your Fat Thermostat.Vitality House International, Provo, 1983.

3. Guyton, AC. Textbook of MedicalPhysiology. W.B. Saunders, 1991.

4. Johnson LR. Essential Medical Physi-ology. Raven Press, New York, 1992.

5. Kraemer WJ. Influence of the endo-crine system on resistance training adapta-tions. Natl. Strength and Conditioning J. 14:47-54, 1992.

6. Kraemer RR. Kilgore JL, Kraemer GR,and Castracane VD. Growth hormone, IGF-1, and testosterone responses to resistiveexercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 24: 1346-1352, 1992.

7. Crist DM. Growth Hormone Syner-gism. DMC Health Sciences, Albuquerque,1991.

2018-03-13T11:10:39+00:00 May 13th, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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