Why is the liver so important for weight loss?
Everyone wants to have a fast metabolism. Well did you know that how well your liver functions is the biggest determining factor in how fast your metabolism is? Your liver is the main site of fat creation and fat burning in your body. If you eat more calories than your body requires, or consume too much carbohydrate or alcohol, your liver will convert them into fat. Some of that fat gets stored within the liver itself, and the rest goes to various parts of your body such as your abdomen, hips and thighs. Some fat gets converted into cholesterol and can be deposited inside arteries that travel to the heart and brain, clogging them and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
People with a well functioning liver are able to burn excess calories and use them for energy. Their liver breaks down excess body fat, pumps it into the gallbladder, and from there it is eliminated from the body in bowel movements. A healthy liver makes higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol and less unhealthy LDL cholesterol. Having a healthy liver also makes you less likely to experience excessive hunger and cravings for sugar and carbohydrate between meals. A healthy liver stores excess glucose in the form of glycogen. When it has been several hours between meals, a healthy liver releases some glucose into your bloodstream, giving you some energy, helping you concentrate and keeping hunger at bay. People with a poorly functioning liver are not able to store glucose as well. This means that blood sugar can drop sharply between meals, leaving you with poor concentration, sugar cravings, hunger and afternoon fatigue. Having a healthy liver makes it much easier to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Ther factors that affect your metabolic rate apart from your liver:
- The amount of muscle you have on your body. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. That is the main reason men usually lose weight faster than women. Regular exercise is the best way to increase muscle.
- How much water you drink. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of pure water each day will speed your metabolism, improve your energy level and reduce hunger.
- Your age. Metabolism slows as we age. In women the reduction in sex hormones after menopause slows metabolism further.
- Your bowel function. Constipation is a sign of a slow metabolism. Ideally you would have between 1 and 3 bowel movements each day.
- The quality and quantity of sleep you get. Sleeping less then 7 hours a night or having broken sleep is strongly linked with increased risk of obesity. This is because lack of sleep triggers an imbalance in your fat burning hormones.
- Medication use. Some prescription drugs impair liver function and therefore slow metabolism.
- Insulin resistance. This is also known as Syndrome X, or metabolic syndrome.
Why does Syndrome X make weight loss more difficult?
People with Syndrome X have excessively high levels of insulin in their bloodstream. Insulin is produced whenever we eat carbohydrate rich foods (such as grains, cereals, flour, sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes). People with Syndrome X over react to a carbohydrate rich meal. They produce far more insulin than is required.
Anyone who gains too much weight around their waist can develop Syndrome X, but the people with the worst case of Syndrome X have one or more of the following:
- A close family relative with type 2 diabetes
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Intense sugar and/or carbohydrate cravings
- Gain weight predominantly in the abdominal area, as opposed to the hips and thighs.
It is the high insulin levels that make weight loss so difficult. This is because insulin has the following actions:
- Stimulates the liver to manufacture fat, including cholesterol and body fat (triglycerides)
- Inhibits the enzymes in your body that burn body fat. This means that people with Syndrome X often don’t lose weight despite exercising.
- Stimulates the retention of sodium and fluid, therefore promotes puffiness.
- Increases hunger. Insulin is a powerful appetite stimulant.
How to overcome Syndrome X
There are 3 ways to overcome Syndrome X and lose weight:
- Reduce blood insulin levels. This can be achieved with a balanced low carbohydrate eating plan.
- Help the insulin in your body to work better. This means your body will not have to produce such high levels. There are a number of herbs and nutrients that can achieve this.
- Improve liver function. Your liver is the centre piece of your metabolism. People with Syndrome X have usually got a fatty liver. This must be addressed in order to achieve weight loss.