We all know the feeling of the 3:00 p.m. slump. We get up from our desk to get another cup of coffee and a donut to provide that much needed boost to get us to the end of the day. This afternoon snack causes our blood sugar to spike, but then crash once again an hour later. We may think that this rollercoaster is a normal part of life, but we may not realize that these peaks and valleys of blood sugar levels may be inhibiting our ability to lose weight.
Blood sugar, aka glucose, is our main source of energy. Blood sugar is produced when we break down any carbohydrate—from donuts to broccoli. Our energy fluctuates throughout the day depending on blood sugar levels. We shift from hyperactive to sluggish to hangry depending on the concentration of sugar in the blood.
The key with regard to blood sugar is to keep it balanced—not too high, not too low. When our blood sugar is balanced, we feel our best and we burn more fat since we have consistent energy from morning until night and the cells throughout our body are being fueled efficiently. Keeping our blood sugar balanced is a great way to facilitate long-term healthy weight loss.
How Does Blood Sugar Levels Affect My Weight?
According to the American Diabetes Association, the normal range of blood sugar is between 70 mg/dl to 100 mg/dl between meals and 100 mg/dl to 140 mg/dl after meals.
To keep blood sugar levels within normal range, insulin is released by the pancreas to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin works like a ferryboat picking up glucose from the digestive system and transporting it via the bloodstream to fuel cells throughout the body.
When blood sugar levels go above 140 mg/dl, such as after eating that afternoon donut, more insulin is produced to regulate the blood sugar level back to normal. This influx of insulin sends a message to the body that plenty of energy is available, so it should stop burning fat and start storing it—which can lead to weight gain.
We can naturally balance our blood sugar by reducing simple carbohydrates, such as sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (dairy sugar) and glucose (blood sugar). Eating fewer simple carbohydrates will cause less sugar to be circulating in the blood from that particular meal. To stabilize our blood sugar, we can lower simple carbohydrates and increase the amount of protein, fat, fiber and greens in our diet.
It’s important not to starve yourself since starvation drops blood sugar levels, causing the body to burn muscle instead of fat. Also, less muscle mass leads to a lowered metabolism. Conversely, we can speed up our metabolism by building muscle mass with weight lifting or other weight-bearing exercises. Starvation also causes the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which further inhibits weight loss.
Over decades of our bodies repeatedly responding to high-and-low cycles of blood sugar levels, our tissues can become less sensitive to the effects of insulin and the transportation of glucose into cells becomes less efficient. In other words, our metabolism slows down as we age leading to weight gain.
How Can We Speed Up Our Metabolism?
What can we do to speed things up? First, we need to learn how our metabolism works. Metabolism comes from the Greek word “change.” This makes sense since the purpose of metabolism is to convert, or change, food into energy.
The speed of our metabolism is determined by how efficiently our body performs this conversion from glucose to ATP in the cell, a chemical reaction catalyzed by enzymes.
One such enzyme is AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPk), known as the “metabolic master switch.” After insulin delivers glucose to the cell, AMPk converts it into energy. Working like a carburetor in a car, AMPk knows how much glucose the cell needs and converts it accordingly. AMPk balances the supply of glucose with the energy demands of the cell, which brings homeostasis to this energy pathway and speeds up the metabolism.
The problem with enzymes is that they are not always active. Enzymes are like light switches, constantly flipping on and off. If insulin delivers glucose but AMPk is not active, the conversion of glucose to energy will be less efficient, leading to feeling fatigued and a slower metabolism.
It’s a two-step process. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose in the blood, while AMPk converts glucose into energy in the cell. By making choices to streamline these two processes, we have a better chance of maintaining consistent energy and a healthy weight.
Through our food choices, we can support healthy insulin and blood sugar levels, but how can we activate AMPk? Enter the dietary supplement, berberine!
How Can Berberine Help You Lose Weight?
Berberine is found in many plants, such as goldenseal, barberry and Oregon grape. It has a long history of use in Chinese medicine to support overall health. Current research backs up this ancient wisdom showing that berberine supports healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss, as well as improves the gut microbiome, and the immune and cardiovascular systems.*
One of the main actions of berberine is to activate AMPk, which speeds up the conversion of glucose to energy (i.e. our metabolism) in our cells.* Berberine flips the “switch” of AMPk on and keeps it on for a longer period of time. Activating the AMPk enzyme prompts the body to decrease fat storage and increase fat burning.
Since berberine is an alkaloid, which is the same class of compounds as caffeine, the body absorbs it quickly and starts working within minutes after taking it, just as it does with caffeine.
AMPk is found in the cells of various organs throughout the body, including the brain, kidney, heart and liver, as well as in muscle tissue. By supplying these cells with glucose at a consistent and rapid rate, these organs perform at their best, which makes us feel healthier and more energized overall.
“The results we’ve found from research on berberine are unbelievable,” says Dr. Michael Murray, Chief Science Officer of Enzymedica. “There is extensive research showing that berberine increases AMPk activation, which speeds the metabolism. Out of every product we make, berberine is the most effective ingredient I’ve ever seen.”
There are many berberine supplements on the market, however, what sets Enzymedica’s Berberine apart is the purity and sourcing of the berberine ingredient, as well as the targeted release capsule.
“Purity is something very important for us,” says Dr. Murray. “Our Berberine product is made of 97 percent of the active ingredient, whereas many other products on the market have only 50 percent.”
Secondly, Enzymedica’s Berberine is sustainably made from barberry seeds rather than goldenseal, which is an endangered species. Sourcing berberine from barberry seeds does not kill any plants in the extraction process.
Lastly, Enzymedica’s Berberine is offered in targeted-release capsules to ensure that berberine is absorbed properly throughout the GI tract. This special capsule is resistant to stomach acid that would otherwise break down the capsule and cause the berberine to bond with itself, forming insoluble complexes that cannot be absorbed.
Other Enzymedica products that promote healthy weight are Apple Cider Vinegar, which also activates AMPk and speeds up digestion, as well as Digest Keto, which supports the specific digestion needs while on the ketogenic diet. *
“There is no magic bullet for weight loss,” says Dr. Murray. “But taking supplements, along with a healthy diet and exercise, can create a comprehensive protocol for weight management.”