Insulin and Glucagon: Counterbalance for
Sustained Weight Release
Written by DrArien van der MerweMBChB FRSPH MISMA
Support your metabolism by eating to increase glucagon
Glucagon is a hormone that plays a major role in breaking down fat and energy stored in the liver as glucagon, thereby allowing your body to have optimal energy levels. Glucagon counterbalances insulin, and is also produced in the pancreas, along with insulin. While insulin helps glucose to get into cells to produce energy as fuel for all cellular functions, and excess glucose to be stored as fat, glucagon’s function is to release the stored nutrients (glycogen and fat) to be used for energy as, and when, needed.
Glucagon promotes the release of stored glucose from the liver (glycogen) and the release of free fatty acids from your fat stores. Therefore, this hormone actually breaks down fat. Since glucagon counterbalances insulin, they aren’t present at the same time. The pancreas either is releasing insulin in response to increased blood sugar levels, or releasing glucagon in response to protein foods. However, neither is released when non-starchy vegetables and fats are consumed. The ratio between insulin and glucagon determines whether food is used as building materials and fuel, or stored as fat. A higher proportion of glucagon means that more food is used as building material or fuel.
A high carbohydrate diet will cause people to overproduce insulin and not enough glucagon. You can heal your metabolism and encourage glucagon to burn fat by balancing your insulin levels – as with the WCC eating plans. When you eat natural fats and adequate amounts of protein, eliminate refined carbohydrates and exercise, you naturally increase your levels of glucagon, which encourages your body to use nutrients as fuel and building blocks for muscle and other important tissues in your body and to not store them as fat.
The following factors increase glucagon:
- Diet low in sugar and low blood sugar
- Increased blood amino acid levels (eating protein)
- Protein foods
The following factors decrease glucagon:
- Free fatty acids in the blood (from too much sugar)
- Frequent meals
- High blood sugar
- Refined carbohydrates in diet
- Sedentary lifestyle