If I told you that weight loss was simply a matter of turning on a key enzyme in the body that would burn fat and turn up your metabolism, would you believe it? Well, scientists may have found this master switch for weight loss in the form of activated protein kinase, or AMPk for short.
AMPk is found in every cell in the body and serves as a "master regulating switch" in energy metabolism. Overall, this enzyme plays a major role in determining our body fat composition. When we're young, AMPk is more active, but as we age the cellular AMPk activation decreases, leading to fat accumulation and loss of muscle mass.
The good news is that researchers are discovering ways to enhance AMPk. Specifically, certain dietary strategies and food components greatly influence AMPk activity. Not surprisingly, these natural approaches hold great promise in the goal of near-effortless weight loss as a result.
The Role of Insulin in AMPk Activity
The most important influencer of AMPk activity appears to be the sensitivity of the cell to the hormone insulin. So insulin resistance can lead to reduced AMPk activity.
Insulin resistance is closely tied to abdominal obesity. If your waist circumference is larger than your hips, there's a strong likelihood that you suffer from insulin resistance. As the number and size of fat cells increase, they lead to a reduction in compounds that promote insulin action, including a protein produced by fat cells known as adiponectin. Making matters even worse, there is also an increase in the secretion of a substance known as resistin that dampens the effects of insulin.
Adiponectin increases the activation of AMPk, while resistin impairs AMPk activity. So, while adiponectin is associated with improved insulin sensitivity and metabolism, resistin is associated with poor blood sugar control, increased blood lipids, and the development of atherosclerosis. All of these effects are due to the influence these compounds have on AMPk activity. So the first step in improving AMPk is to improve insulin sensitivity.
Improving Insulin Sensitivity
Improving insulin sensitivity is most successfully done with a combination of lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity, improving diet and nutrition, and targeted nutritional supplementation. One of the most important dietary and supplement strategies is increasing intake of water-soluble, viscous dietary fiber. This type of fiber is associated with increasing the sensitivity of tissues to insulin and improving the uptake of glucose by the muscles, liver, and other tissues, thereby preventing a sustained elevation of blood sugar. Particularly good sources of water-soluble, viscous fiber are legumes (beans), oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium seed husks, pears, apples, and most vegetables.
For people with definite insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control, I would also recommend a highly viscous dietary fiber supplement such as PolyGlycopleX or PGX. This unique, patented fiber matrix exerts the greatest degree of viscosity and gel-forming properties, making it many times more effective than any other fiber in improving insulin sensitivity and activating AMPk. The typical dosage for PGX is 2.5-5 grams before meals.
Other Ways to Activate AMPk
In addition to viscous dietary fiber, there are a number of very important steps to activate AMPk. Most notable are reducing calorie intake and engaging in regular exercise. It is also interesting that many components of the traditional Mediterranean diet activate AMPk: in particular, olive oil, resveratrol from red wine, and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from fish oil.
There are a lot of botanicals that also activate AMPk, especially mulberry leaf extract. The mulberry plant (Morus alba) is probably best known as the food for silkworms, but it has also been highly regarded in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. Recently, human clinical studies have confirmed the benefits of mulberry leaf extract in helping to improve blood sugar control, promote weight loss, and prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. It also exerts favorable actions against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Many of these effects of mulberry leaf extract are due to its influence on AMPk activity. The daily dosage is generally equivalent to 3,000 mg of dried mulberry leaves, which is the equivalent of 300 mg daily of a 10:1 extract.
Another supplement that activates AMPk is green coffee bean extract. The extract is rich in chlorogenic acid, a compound that has been shown to improve glucose metabolism, inhibit the accumulation of fat, and decrease the absorption of glucose in the intestines. Studies show that green coffee bean extract helps promote weight loss and reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. The typical dosage is 400 mg, three times daily.
How Do You Know if You Have Insulin Resistance?
One of the most useful clinical determinants of insulin resistance is simply measuring the waist to hip ratio. A waist to hip ratio above 1.0 for men and above 0.8 for women is highly predictive of insulin resistance. To determine your waist to hip ratio:
Measure the circumference of your waist: _____
Measure the circumference of your hips: _____
Divide the waist measurement by the hip
measurement: Waist/Hip = _____
This is your waist/hip ratio.
Bio Nutrition White Mulberry Leaf Extract contains 1,000 mg of mulberry in a convenient capsule form. Take with meals with best results.
Garden of Life RAW Fit, in Organic Marley Coffee flavor, with green coffee bean, can be used as a meal replacement for weight loss.
Natural Factors PGX Daily is made using an advanced delivery system, so the highly viscous fiber is well absorbed. Take before meals.