Burning Belly Fat

Secrets to Burning Belly Fat with Michael Mutzel

In this episode of The Functional Medicine Radio Show, Dr. Carri’s special guest Michael Mutzel explains how you can blast belly fat by learning the secret about how your diet, intestinal health, and gut bacteria help you burn fat.

Mike is working on his Masters in Clinical Nutrition and lectures on the power of Nutrition and Functional Medicine. His first book is “Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret about How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat”.

Main Questions Asked:

  • What is “sick fat”?
  • Is there any evidence about people that have anemia or iron deficiency that they’re at more risk for a slower metabolism?
  • How does leptin figure into all of this?
  • Why is stevia not healthy?

Key Points made by Michael:

  • We’ve viewed nutrition in a vacuum and discussed it without looking at this forgotten organ called gut bacteria.
  • Gut bacteria controls our mood, emotions, immunity, and metabolic health.
  • Food, emotions, exercise patterns, habits, stressors and so forth all affect your microbiome – this 100 trillion single-celled collection of microorganisms that has 6,300 plus functions…more metabolic functions than our liver.
  • Simple steps to a healthier microbiome include: eat a lot of colorful foods; chew food mindfully; eat a lot of berries, herbs and spices (curcumin, tumeric, rosemary, garlic, ginger, and things like that).
  • When you look at body fat under a microscope we see that it gets inflamed and sick and has a lot of immune cells that infiltrate in and these immune cells thrive on sugar, and they start releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  • Then we get this whole body, low-grade inflammation that skews our metabolism out of a fat-burning mode and into a sugar-burning mode.
  • Not all body fat is bad. We’re really talking mostly about deep belly fat, the fat around the sides and front of the abdomen.
  • There’s a reason why this fat tissue may get more sick and more inflamed: Researchers have shown that this close proximity to the gut is actually part of the reason.  We get low-grade gut permeability or leaky gut.  We get bacterial fragments coming through, they’re activating the immune system that’s creating this inflammation.
  • An interesting thing that’s not discussed in the fitness community is this notion of hypoxia or reduced oxygen levels. What we see when fat tissue becomes inflamed, it becomes sick and devoid of oxygen.  When oxygen is deficient, you can’t start burning fat.
  • For exercise focus on whole body movements. Movements like dead lifts, squats, even things like tai chi and yoga.  It will increase blood flow locally in the abdomen.
  • Hypoxia is triggered by low levels of cellular oxygen. The focus needs to be on increasing circulation and getting more blood to that site.  Deep belly breathing is really important and stretching and doing core exercises is huge to reverse this and increase blood flow and oxygen.
  • Leptin is involved in this whole process. It’s a unique molecule.  When people think of leptin, they think of this appetite suppressing and satiating hormone, which it is, but it also has a huge role in the immune system.
  • A quick overview of leptin: It’s not only a metabolic endocrine hormone but it affects the immune system in a huge way. It’s released from fat tissue and it’s lowest at about midday instructing the body to refuel and eat the largest meal at lunchtime.  Then leptin, in the normal state, should slowly rise throughout the day and it will be at its highest point while we’re sleeping.  The reason for that is to help us stay asleep so that we stay satiated and not try to get up during our sleep cycle to eat.
  • When people gain more and more weight, the more fat cells they have, the more leptin is released, and basically the hypothalamus is saying we’ve had too much.
  • And the more fat you have, the more inflamed you’re going to be. Reducing belly fat is important for reducing leptin because what it does in the immune system is you have the good guys and the bad guys in terms of immune cells.  The ones we need and want are the T regulatory cells.  Leptin represses these so we see Hashimoto’s, depression, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.  That’s the link between excess body fat and chronic 21st century diseases that we’re seeing on the increase.
  • You can restore your leptin levels with movement and getting your sleep cycle in check. It’s important to be consistent with your light exposure during the day, getting outside for natural light is huge for training your circadian rhythym and getting leptin back on track.  Avoiding artificial light at night is key.
  • Also meal timing. Ensuring people are eating a small breakfast, big if you can, but making sure that lunch is the biggest meal of the day.  Once meal time is gotten on track, it has a huge effect on your energy and hormones related to fat loss.
  • When you exercise more and eat less, this is shown in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), when you do that, you actually suppress these gut hormones and that’s another huge aspect of the book and of emerging research right now.
  • Scientists are realizing how this procedure called bariatric surgery or gastric bypass is so effective. I’m not a fan of the procedure, I’m just talking about the biology of it for learning purposes. The reason it’s so effective for causing weight-loss is not because it restricts how much food people eat, it’s because it changes the gut ecology and the hormones (incretins) released from the GI tract.
  • These gut hormones control more than 50% of insulin’s signaling and post-meal processing. These gut hormones are powerful!
  • There are many ways these gut hormones become suppressed. One of which is synthetic sweeteners.  They are not only further perturbing the gut hormones but affecting the composition of the microbiome.
  • Other things like eating while stressed, eating late at night. Your gut hormones are most active during the middle part of the day which is why you should eat a big lunch.
  • You could play around with a glucometer, the ketone sticks and blood glucose sticks. I would encourage everyone to do this at home so you know what foods affect your blood sugar, how stress affects it.  You can really quantify it.  Having data is really important for tracking things and what you can track, you can improve.
  • Stevia hasn’t been studied that it affects the gut hormones in a super negative way like Aspertame and Sucralose does but it still does affect the signaling, taste receptors and so forth.
  • We need to get rid of sweeteners entirely and just eat real food. That helps to reset this entire process.  Once you do that, you’ll realize how these fake sweeteners taste chemically once you get them out of your body, even Stevia or Xylitol.

Resources Mentioned:

Book – Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat

Michael’s website

Michael’s facebook page

Michael on twitter

Book Reclaim Your Energy and Feel Normal Again

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