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Adiponectin and Fat Loss

I’ve been getting quite a few questions lately regarding the hormone adiponectin and its connection to fat loss so I figured it was about time to do a discussion on the subject.

As you can imagine the majority of the questions had to do with whether or not a particular supplement would increase adiponectin levels and thereby help one lose weight.

This hormone has been getting a lot of coverage lately, being covered on the Dr. Oz show along with a handful of sales pitch videos from supplement companies. While adiponectin certainly plays a role in metabolic functions there’s a bit of misconception about the role it plays in fat loss.

In today’s post we’ll cover the basics and get down to brass tacks on what you need to know about this hormone. From there you can make your own informed decision on the fat loss strategies you choose to follow and supplements to experiment with.

More after the jump…

What is Adiponectin?

Adiponectin is a protein hormone that is secreted by fat tissue and works in a number of metabolic processes, primarily assisting with glucose regulation and fatty acid oxidation.

Adiponectin has a direct correlation with insulin sensitivity and as circulating plasma levels of the hormone go down, insulin sensitivity goes down as well.

In a nutshell, the leaner one is the more adiponectin is secreted by their fat tissue and vice-versa. Low levels of adiponectin are associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and increased risk of type II diabetes along with cardiovascular inflammation.

As adiponectin levels increase it enhances your body’s ability to utilize carbohydrates for energy and burn fatty acids for fuel.

So yes on the surface it appears that raising levels of adiponectin would be beneficial for increased metabolism and fat loss. Hence the reason why we’re seeing new supplements coming out now claiming to boost levels of adiponectin.

The problem is things just aren’t that simple, as is generally the case with most hormones. You see hormones in the body work synergistically with each other in a complex system of self-regulation and balance.

Think about it as a magnificently designed system of checks and balances. As one hormone increases or decreases it impacts the secretion of other hormones. In other words, nothing really happens in a vacuum. If this were the case then anyone who was overweight could simply receive a direct injection of adiponectin and bingo we’d have problem solved.

This isn’t to say that herbal compounds and other substances (organic and non-organic) don’t have the ability to impact hormonal levels. We already know this to be true in the general sense.

But the bigger question is this…

Do overweight and obese individuals have lower levels of adiponectin because of a deficiency, genetic difference, etc, or are their levels decreased due to a natural process of the body adjusting to other hormonal fluctuations (insulin, cortisol, etc)?

Kinda like the chicken or the egg question. And then there’s the whole issue of possible “adiponectin resistance” (akin to leptin resistance) where it’s not that the body doesn’t have the ability to produce enough, but rather there may be an issue with the cell receptors blocking it’s assimilation.

The truth of the matter is I don’t have a concrete answer for you. But my hunch is it may have something to do with all the above. That’s why I’m naturally suspect of any supplement that hypes up promising claims of “quick, easy and effortless” fat loss by means of some improved hormonal function.

Specifically in regards to adiponectin, I suspect levels are decreased in overweight individuals in some part due to increased insulin and cortisol secretion. So it stands to reason that the entire axis would need to be put in balance and not just one part. In other words, raising adiponectin might not necessarily improve insulin sensitivity or lower cortisol production.

Once again we’re back to balancing the body as a whole and not trying to isolate things in a paint by number approach.

Does this mean there’s not any supplements that could be beneficial in helping to boost adiponectin levels?

I won’t say that, as there very well may be. I’m currently doing some research on a couple of products right now (no affiliation- completely unbiased) and will publish my reviews in an upcoming post.

But regardless, my gut tells me that I won’t be finding any “magic in a bottle” fixes. For something to work it will likely have to come in conjunction with changes to both diet and exercise.

Can you naturally raise adiponectin levels in the body?

The short answer is yes, and here’s what we do know about how to increase adiponectin levels naturally. There seems to be a consensus in the scientific research that the following things will help to boost levels.

Increase intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

In short, look to increase the intake of healthier fats while simultaneously reducing excess sugars, starches, and saturated fats. Think along the lines of consuming more cold water fish, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, fish oil, flax seed oil, etc.

Increase fiber intake

Higher fiber intake has been shown in some studies to have up to a 60-115 percent increase in plasma adiponectin levels. This would naturally encourage more fruits and vegetables in the diet along with possibly looking to use a fiber supplement.

The fiber supplement I recommend (and personally use each morning) is the Advocare Fiber Drink. This stuff is far better than traditional store bought fiber supplements like Metamucil, etc.

Each packet (simply mix in a glass of water) contains 10 grams of fiber. This is 4-5 times the amount of most fiber supplements! And unlike most fiber supplements the Advocare Fiber Drink contains digestive enzymes (lipase, cellulase, protease), along with probiotics.

Click the link below to learn more or to order.

Advocare Fiber Drink

Exercise regularly

Of all the research I looked at that involved exercise and adiponectin, it appears that both low and high intensity exercise have a positive impact on levels.

However, there is evidence that suggests the use of shorter duration, higher intensity exercise (burst training) is perhaps the most effective form of exercise big picture for overweight middle age and older adults.

The reason is because this form of exercise has a more pronounced impact on metabolism, blood triglycerides,  insulin sensitivity, and other hormones. In other words, it’s doing more to address hormonal balances and metabolic function as a whole.

Learn more about burst training.

Here are a few research studies on exercise and adiponectin if you’d like to dig deeper.

Influence of Exercise Intensity on Abdominal Fat and Adiponectin in Elderly Adults

Acute Exercise Increases Adiponectin Levels in Abdominally Obese Men

Summary

While I’ll be forthcoming on a few product reviews on supplements that claim to boost adiponectin levels, let me just say this for now. From my early research it appears that the existing scientific research on ANY supplement or drug has been limited to studies on mice.

There’s not much to go off of along the lines of credible peer-reviewed studies on humans. Take that bit of info for what it’s worth.

But regardless of what you may have heard on Dr. Oz or some slick video sales pitch, the BEST ways to naturally raise adiponectin along with improving insulin sensitivity/ decreasing cortisol, will be through dietary and exercise changes.

Follow a generally clean, healthy diet, one that’s high in fiber and contains moderate amounts of monounsaturated fats. Combine this with burst training workouts several times a week, regular aerobic exercise, and adequate rest/recovery. That’s a pretty good start for a beginning recipe.

As always feel free to leave any questions or comments. This is an open forum blog.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts, a Charleston personal fitness training studio that specializes in weight loss and body transformation. See our success stories from numerous Lowcountry residents then sign up for a no-obligations consultation today.

 

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Category: Fat Loss.