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How To Fix Your Busted Metabolism


By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES


In some cases, inflammation can be the root of all evil.

Don’t get me wrong, inflammation has its place in the body.  But talking about diseases and disease processes, you want to stay away from inflammation.

Inflammation can ruin healthy fat cells, rendering them unable to do their job.

Not good!   But there is help on the way.

Adipose tissue, also know as your belly fat, thigh fat, and underarm fat, may release hormones that keep your metabolism humming like a Ferrari. 

Is there a downside?  Unfortunately, there is.  When your fat cells are sick, your fat burning engine sputters and needs a major overhaul. 

Why? Cytokines!  They ARE the enemy and can hinder your overall fat loss.

Cytokines also increase inflammation.   Cytokines can increase your risk for developing diabetes, becoming obese, or other complications closely related to metabolic syndrome.

How?

They make your fat cells dysfunctional and your fat cells become resistant to friendly hormones.  

Hormones, like Leptin, Resistan, and Adiponectin (there are plenty of others too) help the body process fat and use it as energy.    Increased levels of these hormones help us lose weight and keep our metabolism rolling.

One cytokine, in particular, is worse than all others.  You see, too much TNF-α may spike inflammation in your body, making your cells resistant to friendly hormones!

Cytokines, like TNF-α, can act as an ally and an enemy.  As an ally, TNF-α attaches itself to cancer cells and destroys them.  On the enemy side, increased levels of TNF-α have a pro-inflammatory response limiting the cells' ability to burn stored fat and sugar.

And when TNF-α is present for long periods of time, it may lose its ability to destroy cancer cells (some patients with cancer, where TNF-α was high, showed decreased activity in TNF-α's ability to fight off the cancer cells).

High levels of TNF-α is also expressed by increased inflammation.   Your doctor usually determines how much inflammation is in the body through a blood test.  This test determines the level of C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation in the body.   High TNF-α levels raise C-reactive protein levels in the body. 

Not only can TNF-α cause inflammation, it may also cause insulin resistance, which is extemely common with obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Now, when fatty acids are released by your fat cells, hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) splits one molecule, sending it to be burned and used for energy. 

What is left is another molecule of fat.  Lipoprotein lipase activates, breaking it down and sending it off. So you have two, that’s right, two molecules which are processed and used.

But here's the problem: Increased TNF-α levels may decrease lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which leads to less fatty acids broken down.  This then leads to fatty acids making their way to other cells and organs to be stored.  You would think they would be stored for later use, but you would be wrong.

This excess energy is then stored in organs like the liver, which leads to higher inflammation levels.  This results in other complications. 

All from the release of one cytokine!  Guess what?

Obesity may increase TNF-α levels in the body.  And this increase may inhibit your cells' ability to utilize insulin released by the pancreas. 

How does this happen? I am so glad you asked.

Your fat cells have a specific receptor on the surface, which helps insulin bind to it.  When there is an over-expression of TNF-α, the enzyme activity for this receptor is decreased, leading to insulin resistance.    Wow! 

Not only can it interfere with the insulin receptor site, it also interferes with insulin signaling, disrupting the normal secretion by the pancreas.

So, your diet is loaded with fat; and you know it’s bad for you.  But do you know just how bad it is?

A high-fat diet increases the activity of TNF-α, which produces more inflammation and insulin resistance. With an Increase in TNF-α activity, you also see a rise in Leptin. 

Now, you may (or may not) know that fat tissue releases Leptin, which tells your brain that you are full. But, when you are overweight, you have higher levels of bound Leptin. 

And bound Leptin has a harder time making it through the blood brain barrier.  So now you don’t know when you body may not recognize when you are full. 

Also, and this is important, your body can become resistant to Leptin, which causes higher cortisol levels.  High cortisol levels may also make you store fat.  This vicious cycle just keeps spinning, leaving you no way out. 

When you are overweight, TNF-α levels increase, leading to all sorts of metabolic complications. 

But:

There may be a way to decrease TNF-α expression, and help you succesfully lose weight and decrease inflammation.

First, you have got to start exercising and eating right!

This may help reduce your body fat stores.  Plus, the more weight you lose, TNF-α levels may also decrease.  Also, Adiponectin increases, helping you to burn EVEN more fat.

By decreasing TNF-α expression and your body fat levels, you may see an increase in free Leptin molecules, which now can tell your brain when you are full. 

Also, amazingly enough, you are allowing your body to become sensitive to hormones again! 

Plus, there is a greater possibilty that your body may be able to utilize insulin again, shuttling sugar to the working muscles.  

You may also be able to break down fatty acids and use them for energy.

Plus, and I mean a BIG plus, decreased TNF-α levels also reduce inflammation.  Hooray! 

The decreased inflammation levels will help your body regain sensitivity to hormones secreted by fat cells and other endocrine organs.

You are now in control of your body. 

And now that you are in control again, you need to keep your belly fat levels healthy and active by losing weight and reducing your inflammation levels.  

The key is your body, you now need to unlock your body’s potential and use it to your advantage.