It happens every few weeks: the struggle to leave bed is real, I’ve just eaten breakfast and I’m hungry again. Then comes the moment of real truth: I try to put on my jeans. I just manage to squeeze my hips in and realise there’s no way I’m doing that button up. These things happen in cycles, so how do we lessen the effects, or even break the cycle?
The obstacles to good health for us are many but are mostly rooted in stress, leading to sleeplessness, quick and dirty meals, drinking, lack of exercise and emotional eating. We can all produce reasons for why we aren’t as healthy as we’d like to be, because our lives are busy, or lonely and basically not easy. Bad news? No way! We know the problems, let’s tackle them!
Weight loss is generally dictated by the laws of thermodynamics: energy output vs energy input. Crash diets and other fad dieting techniques may be effective short term, but without healthy change, the body will end up back where it started. The real keys to weight loss are balance and lifestyle changes. We need to reduce the calories we eat and still feel positive and energetic enough to live our lives to the fullest.
“Weight loss is generally dictated by the laws of thermodynamics: energy output vs energy input.”
There’s no magic answer to weight loss, but there are plenty of ways to make it easier. We can facilitate a physiological environment where our body is able to burn fat more efficiently, ensure less fat storage and utilise food more efficiently for energy. Successful weight management relies on building healthy habits: The body is an adaptive vehicle, and good habits are good for forcing adaptations. Set goals, achieve them and then maintain them.
Your body’s energy output takes two primary forms: heat and movement – from the macro scale (walking, exercise) to the micro scale (sweat being pushed out of our pores). In fact, for the vast majority of us, heat energy and movement from vital functions account for the bulk of our energy output. The average person emits heat energy at a rate of 100W, a standard light bulb, 24 hours a day and anyone who’s tried to output 300W for an hour (1/8 average daily heat output) on an exercise bike knows that matching this with exercise is a tall order. The good news is you don’t have to! Weight loss is about working on the margins, with more energy output than input, and then sticking with it. You only need a bit of extra energy output maintained over time and you’ll start losing weight.
Physical exercise is one of the strongest anti-depressants we know of. The surge of endorphins (small neuropeptides that block pain and feel good) during and after exercise is an incredible way to start your day and can put you in a positive mind frame. The name endorphin actually derives from the words ‘endogenous’ and ‘morphinan’, meaning our body’s very own morphine. Exercise really can be considered a form of ‘natural high’!
Exercise has a ton of health benefits (listed in the Tech Talk), can also be enjoyable and easy to add to your life. Let’s break it down: If you’re active for 30 minutes a day, that’s only 3% of your time! Have a think about how much time you waste daily watching TV, scrolling your feeds, or killing time with pointless activities without benefits. 30 minutes in the morning - even before your shower - is your go-to and is time well spent!
“If you’re active for 30 minutes a day, that’s only 3% of your time!”
There are plenty of ways to fit that tiny three percent into your day: Go for a morning walk, play frisbee with your dog, join your friends for walks or sport, a mini session at home or in the gym, walk 15 mins to get your lunch or even ‘cardio’ with your loved one. The possibilities are as open as your imagination and your willingness to engage with yourself and others.
Research into exercise has a long history and the benefits are well-established. It yields improved general health by:
- Improving vascular health in the young and old
- Increasing insulin sensitivity in muscle and fat cells
- Decreasing blood glucose levels
- Decreasing lipogenesis in adipose tissue
- Reducing blood pressure
- Reducing triglycerides
- Reducing both abdominal and visceral adiposity
Exercise is commonly prescribed as an anti-aging measure, and for good reason. Regular exercise increases the expression of multiple genes that typically decline with age, such as those associated with healthy mitochondrial function, glucose transport, insulin signalling, lipolysis, fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis. Because of the effects on vascular health, cardio exercise is especially important for maintaining healthy circulation to the brain and has been linked with a decreased risk of dementia. A regular rhythmical exercise also has a calming effect on the body and is one of the best natural stress relievers available. As a result, walking, jogging, swimming or cycling uninterrupted for 20 - 30 minutes daily is strongly recommended for good mental and physical health.
In the context of body weight management, exercise represents both an essential asset for health and the lever with which we shift our body towards a desired goal.
We are what we eat - the food we eat is paramount to optimising our health and body weight. In particular, eating nutrient dense and low-calorie food is vital for weight loss. Avoiding nasty, over processed, or low fibre foods is important as they can cause inflammation in the gut and destroy our gut health, making us bloated and uncomfortable. It’s also important for your health.
"Low calorie diets can get us down, making us irritable and even bringing us to binge eating."
One of the biggest struggles we all face while restricting calorie intake is the increased appetite. Low calorie diets can get us down, making us irritable and even bringing us to binge eating. There are many ways we can naturally curb increased appetite to assist us in reaching our goals. One of the best ways to help reduce hunger and improve gut health is to introduce natural fibres into your diet – food additives like psyllium husk (which is also gluten free) and natural plant fibres are ideal.
Our health starts with the basic energy substrates. We’ve all heard the adage “calories are not created equal”, but seldom is this ever expanded on. A more complete explanation is to say that, depending on which foods they came from, carbohydrates, whole proteins and dietary fats all produce varying metabolic reactions. If, for example, we take glucose and fructose and join them together, we create sucrose (table sugar). Individually, however, one of these precursor sugars stimulates insulin production in the pancreas and one does not.
Our selection of macronutrient sources also plays a role in counterproductive immune responses of the body. As an example, poultry and beef are good protein sources, but they contain a high proportion of pro-inflammatory amino acids methionine and cysteine relative to other protein sources such as shellfish, shanks and joints which contain an abundance of glycine and taurine. Seed oils such as those use in deep frying and baking contain enormous quantities of omega-6 linoleic acid which serves as a precursor to inflammatory cell messengers called eicosanoids. If we continue to consume our macronutrients from one source, eventually we will end up with an imbalance – either overabundance, or deficiency – of one or more substrates or catalysts in our bodies and this can have unexpected health consequences.
Listed macronutrients and food additives are a large part of the story, however, we often neglect the properties of the container. One can scrutinise the ingredients on the packaging all day, whilst completely missing the implications of the packaging itself. Plastics are a blight on modern food because many of them produce estrogen-like effects in the body, leading to metabolic conditions, fertility issues and even cancer. The rising popularity of glass bottles is a commendable emergence, but cheap glass is not without its own risks in the form of heavy metals.
The greatest defence against nutritional imbalance and ill-health is variety and freshness.
At Slimtum™, we believe that we can help with weight loss through smart supplementation. While we can’t change the fundamentals – lifestyle, energy output and input – we can provide the balance that helps you with these and supports your body’s natural processes.
To this end, Yang (as part of Yin & Yang) was designed as a complement to diet and exercise. It may assist by mobilising fatty acids, suppressing appetite, supporting thyroid function, increasing insulin sensitivity and moderating the stress response. The ingredients in Yang have been selected to meet specific criteria so that no aspect of fat loss was overlooked. These criteria include:
- Energy and mood enhancement
- Fatty acid mobilisation
- Increasing fatty acid oxidation
- Preventing accumulation of adipose (fat) tissue
- Excess water removal
- Thyroid support
- Stress response modulation – See blog on Weight Loss & Stress Management
All of these blends work in a beautiful synergy to ensure we are maximising our body’s potential to lose weight, while making the journey that little bit easier and natural to us.
"Yang (as part of Yin & Yang) was designed as a complement to diet and exercise."
Energy, focus and mood enhancement
Caffeine belongs to a group of compounds called xanthines. These are present in chocolate, coffee, guarana and tea. In fact, our body’s most abundant antioxidant is a xanthine called uric acid. Caffeine is such a valuable tool for fat loss for three distinct reasons:
- Non-selective adenosine antagonist
- Non-selective phosphodiesterase inhibitor
- Increases intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)
Caffeine is one of the most effective methods to increase intracellular cAMP. In a fat loss context, this molecule is particularly important since it regulates the activity of catecholamine-induced lipolysis. Caffeine and adenosine are essentially opposites of one another. That sleepiness you feel in the morning is adenosine, and it’s why caffeine works so well to get rid of it. If you’re exercising first thing in the morning, caffeine’s adenosine antagonism makes it a good choice, especially for goals involving fat loss. The antagonism of adenosine receptors is an important function since adenosine is lipogenic (fat producing) and blocks the accumulation of cAMP induced by catecholamines and caffeine. But with adenosine blocked, elevations in cAMP result in the activation of adipose tissue lipase which increases circulating free fatty acids. Caffeine is then able to keep levels of cAMP elevated for prolonged periods due to its inhibition of the enzyme phosphodiesterase, which normally breaks down cAMP. In essence, caffeine mobilizes fat from fat stores and increases fat burning.
Phenethylamine (Beta PEA) is a naturally occurring trace amine and metabolic intermediate in catecholamine synthesis. This compound is described as the ‘feel good’ ingredient. It’s of no surprise then that exogenous daily supplementation of PEA yields substantial increases in dopamine concentrations in the striatum.  Its weak actions on beta adrenergic receptors facilitate even greater lipolytic activity in adipose tissue by working in conjunction with caffeine and increasing intracellular cAMP.
Halostachine is a mild stimulant isolated from the Halostachys caspica plant. Similar in structure and activity to PEA, it is a mild agonist of beta adrenergic receptors and provides a modest increase in intracellular cAMP.
L-Theanine is a non-essential amino acid structurally similar to L-glutamate. Theanine is the ingredient responsible for the relaxing qualities of tea, and it was a must-have for purposes of stress reduction. Being structurally similar to glutamate, it binds to and antagonises NMDA receptors yielding a state of relaxation. It increases concentrations of dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline and decreases salivary cortisol. It reduces perceived stress, increases alpha brainwave activity – the “relaxation” brainwave – and even improves circulating stress markers and sleep quality in those with schizophrenia. Theanine synergizes with caffeine to yield unique effects of calm determination and anxiety-free focus.
The Fat Loss Factor
Green tea extract contains several phenolic compounds called catechins, with the most abundant being epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This compound has been studied extensively for its anti-cancer and anti-obesity properties. Not only a powerful antioxidant, it promotes the death of cancerous cells and blocks new ones forming by affecting a multitude of cell signal pathways. EGCG increases fatty acid oxidation during exercise and blocks the formation of new fatty acids by inhibiting fatty acid synthase, an enzyme which is now also being investigated for its possible role in cancer.
Similar to green tea extract, grape seed extract contains another class of phenolic substances called proanthocyanidins. These are the reason you might have been told to drink red wine every evening. Grape seed extract inhibits the activity of two enzymes – lipoprotein lipase and pancreatic lipase – involved in the absorption of dietary fats. Grape seed extract also has an abundance of positive health benefits such as dramatically increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering blood pressure, increasing cardiovascular health and many more.
Olive leaf extract is high in a polyphenol named Oleuropein. This polyphenol has been proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, prevent DNA damage, improve insulin sensitivity to name a few of the many health benefits. Oleuropein is host to incredible anti-obesity properties. Studies have shown Oleuropein reduces the amount of fat cells from forming, reduces body weight, liver fat and tissue mass.
Conjugated linoleic acid is a name encompassing 20+ different fatty acid structures found most commonly in meat and dairy, but also mushrooms. These unsaturated lipids exert significant effects on body composition by increasing carnitine acyltransferase levels, fatty acid oxidation and inhibiting lipogenesis.
L-carnitine and Acetyl-L carnitine are nitrogenous compounds involved in the donation of acyl groups, acetyl groups and the transport of long-chain fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane by the aforementioned enzyme carnitine acyltransferase. Supplementation of L-carnitine increases fatty acid oxidation during exercise, whilst acetyl-L carnitine demonstrates marked antidepressant, antioxidant, neuroprotective and mood-enhancing effects.
Garcinia cambogia is a tropical fruit tree native to Indonesia. Its fruits are plentiful in hydroxycitric acid, a competitive inhibitor of ATP citrate lyase, an enzyme that facilitates fatty acid synthesis. G. cambogia supplementation significantly reduces visceral fat accumulation, subcutaneous fat accumulation, serum insulin, serum leptin, triglycerides, and food intake in users. The reduced food intake and the serum leptin changes suggests a powerful appetite-suppressing effect.
Dandelion root has been used for centuries in geographic regions spanning from North America to China. It contains several flavonoids and phenolic compounds that exert broad antioxidant effects in the body. Dandelion root also acts as a diuretic, shedding excess water. Dandelion root has also shown to spare essential electrolytes making it a safe way to flush out excess water. Dandelion root is also known aid kidney and liver function.
Thyroid function and Stress
With dieting comes caloric restriction. Due to the lower food intake, our bodies will naturally try to adapt to survive, one pathway is decreasing our thyroid output.
Kelp, selenomethionine and N-acetyl L-tyrosine (NALT) are ingredients included to supplement the thyroid gland and thus maintain healthy thyroid function. When thyroid function declines, the effects of beta-adrenergic agonist adrenaline on adipose tissue are inhibited. Thyroid function is also a significant determinant of beta-adrenergic activity in muscle tissue.
Kelp naturally contains iodine, an element incorporated into the two primary thyroid hormones thyroxine(T4) and triiodothyronine(T3). Selenomethionine is an amino acid chelate – selenium bound to methionine – found in abundance in Brazil nuts. Selenium is required for many enzymes to operate correctly, including the small family of iodothyronine deiodinases. These enzymes are necessary for catalysing the conversion of thyroid hormones from inactive to active forms. Finally, there is NALT. This is just L-tyrosine with an acetyl group attached to the secondary amine – this addition is designed to improve water solubility and absorption into the blood. Both thyroxine and triiodothyronine are comprised of a simple combination of iodine and modified tyrosine molecules. To add to this, the ashwaghanda in Yin (the night time tablets as part of “Yin & Yang”) plays a major part in decreasing the dreaded reverse T3 which blocks active thyroid function, while enhancing the conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3) overall giving us the most optimal thyroid output.
Finally, we have cholecalciferol, otherwise known as vitamin D3. Typically associated with calcium metabolism and bone health, this was included for a very specific reason. General physical or psychological stress will involve elevations in cortisol. Chronic elevations of cortisol inflict damage on vulnerable brain regions and desensitize glucocorticoid receptor signalling in both the brain and the body. Vitamin D3 effectively reverses this, improving the sensitivity of glucocorticoid receptors and allowing the body to keep cortisol levels in check. D3 is also incredibly important for maintain optimal hormonal balance by reducing estrogen synthesis and regulating various protective hormone enzymes.
We all want to feel on top of the world. We want to experience the ‘spark’ that fuels our confidence, happiness and pushes us forward. Diet and exercise are the pillars of improving a great deal of physical and emotional issues. You have the power to be happy, un-hangry and to fit in your jeans!
We all have the ability to make positive changes to ourselves: Start now and make the daily choices to stick with it until those changes become habit.
- Bryce La Grange for Slimtum
- Hambrecht, R et al. 2000 ‘Effect of Exercise on Coronary Endothelial Function in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease’, The New England Journal of Medicine, 342 pp. 454-460
- Najjar, SM, Wisloff, U et al. 2008 ‘Aerobic Interval Training Versus Continuous Moderate Exercise as a Treatment for the Metabolic Syndrome’, Circulation, 118 pp. 346-354
- Deanfield, JE et al. 1999 ‘Exercise Training Enhances Endothelial Function in Young Men’, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 33 no. 5
- Nair, KS et al. 2003 ‘Impact of Aerobic Exercise Training on Age-Related Changes in Insulin Sensitivity and Muscle Oxidative Capacity’, Diabetes, 52 no. 8
- Arzubiaga, C, Puckett, A, Paul, S, Biaggioni I 1991 ‘Caffeine and Theophylline as Adenosine Receptor Antagonists in Humans’, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 258 no. 2
- Ribeiro, JA, Sebastiao, AM 2010 ‘Caffeine and Adenosine’, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20 no. 1
- Sutherland ,EW, Baird, CE, Butcher, RW 1968 ‘Effects of Lipolytic and Antilipolytic Substances on Adenosine 3',5'-Monophosphate Levels in Isolated Fat Cells’, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 243 no. 8
- Rizack, MA 1963 ‘Activation of an Epinephrine-sensitive Lipolytic Activity from Adipose Tissue by Adenosine 3’,5’-phosphate’, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 239 no. 2
- Ward, WF, Pointer, RH, Fain, JN 1972 ‘Effects of Adenosine Nucleosides on Adenylate Cyclase, Phosphodiesterase, Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Accumulation, and Lipolysis in Fat Cells’, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 247 no. 21
- Krebs, EG, Walsh, DA, Reimann, EM, Corbin, JD 1970 ‘Activation of Adipose Tissue Lipase by Skeletal Muscle Cyclic Adenosine 3',5'-Monophosphate-stimulated Protein Kinase’, The Journal of Biological Chemistry’, 245 no. 18
- Acheson, KJ et al. 2004 ‘Metabolic Effects of Caffeine in Humans: Lipid Oxidation or Futile Cycling?’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79 no. 1
- Kuroki, T, Tsutsumi, T, Hirano, M et al. 1990 ‘Behavioral Sensitization to Beta-phenylethylamine (PEA): Enduring Modifications of Specific Dopaminergic Neuron Systems in the Rat’, Pyschopharmacology, 102 no. 2
- Shannon, HE, Cone, EJ, Yousefnejad, D 1981 ‘Physiologic Effects and Plasma Kinetics of Phenylethanolamine and its N-methyl Homolog in the Dog’, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 217 379-385
- Liapakis, G, Chan, WC, Papadokostaki, M, Javitch, JA 2004 ‘Synergistic Contributions of the Functional Groups of Epinephrine to its Affinity and Efficacy at the β2 Adrenergic Receptor’, Molecular Pharmacology, vol. 65 1181-1190
- Park, Y, Albright, KJ, Liu, W et al. 1997 ‘Effect of Conjugated Linoleic Acid on Body Composition in Mice’, Lipids, 32 no. 8
- McIntosh, M et al. 2001 ‘Trans-10, Cis-12, But Not Cis-9, Trans-11, Conjugated Linoleic Acid Attenuates Lipogenesis in Primary Cultures of Stromal Vascular Cells from Human Adipose Tissue’, The Journal of Nutrition, 131 no. 9
- Muller, DM et al. 2002 ‘Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy adults’, Metabolism, 51 no. 11
- McIntyre, RS et al. 2008 ‘Acetyl-L-carnitine and α-lipoic acid: Possible Neurotherapeutic Agents for Mood Disorders?’, Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 17 no. 6
- Meluzzi, A, Francesetti, G, Gecele, M 1991 ‘Acetyl-L-Carnitine in Aged Subjects with Major Depression: Clinical Efficacy and Effects on the Circadian Rhythm of Cortisol’, Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, vol. 2 no. 6
- Pae, C et al. 2014 ‘A Review of Current Evidence for Acetyl-l-carnitine in the Treatment of Depression’, Journal of Psychiatric Research, 53 pp. 30-37
- Srivastava, RK, Shankar, S, Singh, BN 2011 ‘Green Tea Catechin, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): Mechanisms, Perspectives and Clinical Applications’, Biochemical Pharmacology, 82 no. 12
- Cox, HR et al. 2008 ‘Green Tea Extract Ingestion, Fat Oxidation, and Glucose Tolerance in Healthy Humans’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87 no. 3
- Swinnen, JV et al. 2003 ‘Epigallocatechin-3-gallate is a Potent Natural Inhibitor of Fatty Acid Synthase in Intact Cells and Selectively Induces Apoptosis in Prostate Cancer Cells’, International Journal of Cancer, 106 no. 6
- Tian, W, Wang, X 2001 ‘Green Tea Epigallocatechin Gallate: A Natural Inhibitor of Fatty-Acid Synthase’, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 288 no. 5
- Hunt, DA et al. 2007 ‘mRNA Stability and Overexpression of Fatty Acid Synthase in Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines’, Anticancer Research, 27 no. 1A
- Moreno, DA et al. 2003 ‘Inhibitory Effects of Grape Seed Extract on Lipases’, Nutrition, vol. 19 no. 10
- Preuss, HG et al. 2004 ‘An Overview of the Safety and Efficacy of a Novel, Natural (-)-hydroxycitric Acid Extract (HCA-SX) for Weight Management’, Journal of Medicine, vol. 35
- Hayamizu, K et al. 2003 ‘Effects of Garcinia Cambogia (Hydroxycitric Acid) on Visceral Fat Accumulation: a Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial’, Current Therapeutic Research, vol. 64 no. 8
- Spelman, K et al. 2009 ‘The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day’, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15 no. 8
- Armstrong, KJ et al. 1974 ‘Effects of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency on Cyclic Adenosine 3' : 5'-Monophosphate and Control of Lipolysis in Fat Cells’, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 249 no. 13
- Exton, JH, Khatra, BS, Shikama, H, Chu, DT 1985 ‘Effects of Altered Thyroid Status on Beta-adrenergic Actions on Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Metabolism’, The Journal of Biological Chemistr, 260 no. 18
- Kakuda, T 2002 ‘Neuroprotective Effects of the Green Tea Components Theanine and Catechins’, Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 25 no. 12
- Yokogoshi, H et al. 1998 ‘Effect of Theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on Brain Monoamines and Striatal Dopamine Release in Conscious Rats’, Neurochemical Research, 23 no. 5
- Scholey, AB et al. 2016 ‘Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an l-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial’, Nutrients, 8 no. 1
- Ota, M et al. 2015 ‘Effect of L-theanine on Glutamatergic Function in Patients with Schizophrenia’, Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 27 no. 5
- Lerner, V et al. 2011 ‘Serum Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Cortisol to Sulfate of Dehydroepiandrosterone Molar Ratio Associated With Clinical Response to L-theanine as Augmentation of Antipsychotic Therapy in Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder Patients’, Clinical Neuropharmacology, 34 no. 4
- Scholey, AB et al. 2008 ‘The Effects of L-theanine, Caffeine and Their Combination on Cognition and Mood’, Biological Psychology, 77 no. 2
- Obradovic, D et al. 2005 ‘Cross-talk of Vitamin D and Glucocorticoids in Hippocampal Cells’, Journal of Neurochemistry, 96 no. 2
- Xystrakis, E et al. 2006 ‘Reversing the Defective Induction of IL-10-secreting Regulatory T Cells in Glucocorticoid-Resistant Asthma Patients’, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 116 no. 1
- Leung, DYM et al. 2010 ‘Decreased Serum Vitamin D Levels in Children With Asthma are Associated with Increased Corticosteroid Use’, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 125 no. 5