Mechanism of Fat Loss, Hormones, Exercise & Weight Loss

              Continuing from the previous articles which deals with diet loss and weightloss at 47 years of age, I will discuss about the Exercises and the effect they have on the weight loss. But before I dwell into the benefits of exercise, one need to understand the below 

  1. The mechanism of fat burning
  2. Hormones influencing weight loss

I will deal with this subject along with Intermittent fasting in my next article 

3. Bodily functions of various macros – fat, protein, carbohydrates

And in the later sections, I would cove

      4. Benefits of different types of exercises

      5. A sample exercise routine (which I follow) 

Mechanism of Fat burning

           Human bodies by evolution is designed to store food in the body during abundance of food availability and use those stored food for their energy needs when food is scarce. Just like other wild animals, humans were hunters by nature. As we learnt Agriculture and got into the civilizational churn, we started eating food everyday, most times in excess, storing the extra food not used for the energy for that day and not using these energy stores throughout our lives. 

           So what are these energy stores? These are the fat cells (adipocytes) which store any left over food, not converted into energy, as fats or triglycerides (TAG)  either under the skin (subcutaneous) or around organs (visceral fat). 

           So the target of the weight loss should be using these fat reserves as energy. This happens, to keep it simple, as a 2 step process – lipolysis and fat oxidation. Without going into the scientific mumbo-jumbo, lipolysis is the process of releasing the TAG into the blood-stream. Certain proteins  transport these TAG to muscles where they are burnt to energy through the fat oxidation process or stored in between muscles (IMTAG or intramuscular fat) 

            Lipolysis + fat oxidation happens when the primary source, the food eaten that day, is spent as energy (through a process called glycolysis). But exercise can trigger it too. 

Hormones influencing the weight loss

  1. Human Growth Hormone – This hormone influences Lipolysis and Builds muscles. Many bodybuilders use steroids which are mostly HGH in artificial form to build the muscles. And most of them die at 40s too as HGH also causes the growth of heart muscles. But do not worry as the naturally occurring HGH secretion is not to the levels of artificially imbibed ones. As one ages, there is a decrease in the HGH (called Somatopause). So focus should be on boosting this hormone. Do Compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses with less than a minute of rest between different sets.
  2. Insulin – Inhibits lipolysis. One want to keep the Insulin at a moderate levels meaning – do not eat much simple carbs/sugars 
  3. Cortisol – Inhibits lipolysis and encourages fat synthesis (fat storage). Try reducing chronic stress. Also consuming Ashwagandha helps.
  4. Catecholamines – This group of hormones (adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine)  triggers lipolysis or releasing of fat (TAG) from the adipocytes
  5. Glucagon – Promotes lipolysis along with Gluconeogenesis (will keep this topic for some other time) 
  6. Leptin – The Leptin hormone suppresses hunger. Leptin levels deplete after calorie deficit happens for a long time. So good rich meal can boost the Leptin levels and suppress hunger that one might feel after extended periods of weight loss. Low levels of Leptin can make one feel miserable. In summary, a cheat meal or 2 now and then will help but watch out for simple carbs and sugars.
  7.  Ghrelin – Ghrelin is a hormone which boosts hunger, appetite. Increases with sleep deprivation. Avoid sugar and high-fructose corn syrup as they can impair Ghrelin’s decline after eating.
  8. Thyroid Hormones – To keep it simple, high levels of thyroid hormones can boost metabolism and low levels of thyroid hormones will reduce the metabolism. So it influences weight loss/weight gain. I suggest taking doctor’s advice. But keep exercising levels per week under control. Excess exercise sessions per week can influence these hormones. Appropriate sessions per week (4-5 days max) boosts the thyroid hormones and reduce lethargy if there is Hypothyroidism. If there is hyperthyroidism, I would suggest checking with a physician. Too much of HIIT in a week can cause a reduction in a T3 thyroid hormone.
  9. Insulin like Growth Factor – IGF-1 – Promotes muscle growth, regulate fat levels and keep blood sugars under check. Sleep more, consume good proteins and foods loaded with zinc like egg, dairy, shellfish, nuts.
  10. Testosterone – Testosterone decrease would cause weight gain and fat increase in the body. As one ages testosterone decreases in the body. Focus should be on boosting the testosterone. Do Compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses with less than a minute of rest between different sets.
  11. Adiponectin is an important hormone, which is secreted by the fat tissue. More the fat tissue, lesser the secretion and lesser the fat tissue, higher the secretion (opposite effect of Leptin, the hunger control hormone). Adiponectin is associated with increased insulin sensitivity, cardio vascular protection & reduction in hypertension. To boost Adiponectin, 1. Eat foods high in Omega 3 (oily fishes like Salmon or Avocados or Olive oil) or take Omega 3 supplements.

Benefits of Exercise 

Light intensity exercise (e.g. walking on the treadmill at 3 miles per hour)  sends more blood to the adipose tissues, which opens these tissues and this allows for the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream to be taken to the muscle for oxidation.

Moderate intensity  exercises (walking at 4 miles per hour)  use the fat reserves amidst the muscle tissues.

 High intensity exercise (High intensity interval training, sprint training, resistance training with just a minute max rest between sets and exercises) taps more into glucose in the bloodstream than the fatty acids. It shuts off the mechanism to transport fatty acids from the adipose tissues to the muscle tissues. 

But why do trainers recommend HIIT and resistance training (weight training)? 

It is because of the below reasons primarily

  1. Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is more with moderate/high intensity exercise where fat oxidation happens for hours after the exercise session is over which is not the case with Light intensity exercises where the fat oxidation stops after the exercise session. 
  2. There are good hormone boosts (increase in HGH, Testosterone)  which happens during these high intensity exercises
  3. Also Catecholamine hormones which induce Lipolysis is generated especially during High Intensity exercises
  4. Most types of High Intensity exercises build muscles which are active tissues – meaning each pound of muscle you build needs additional calories for its upkeep – meaning, your resting metabolism i.e. daily calorie needs increases. 
  5. Exercise improves the use of Intramuscular Triacylglycerol (IMTAG) by the body into the conversion of energy in the muscles effectively than those who do not exercise. So exercise helps in the adaptation of the body to burn fat 
  6. Blood sugar levels are kept under control and so Insulin is regulated causing hormones like Glucagon which induces Lipolysis are secreted. 

There are additional benefits of exercise combined with Intermittent Fasting but that is a topic I will deal with when I write about Intermittent fasting.

Sample Exercise Routine (which I follow) 

ExerciseSetsMuscles targetedComments
Day 1Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

More emphasis on Chest but shoulders/triceps get the working

Bench press3 sets x 7-12 repsmiddle chest

Dumbbell Incline press3 sets x 7-12 repsupper chest

Cable flys3 sets x 7-12 repslower chest

Dips – Chest version3 sets x 7-12 repsOverall chest (emphasis on lower chest)

Day 2Legs

Deadlift – Hamstring version – using Barbell3 sets x 6-8 repsHamstring, lower back (core)

Squats3 sets x 6-8 repsLegs overall

Machine leg press3 sets x 6-8 repsLegs overall

Calf raise using Smith machine3 sets x 6-8 repscalf

hamstring machine (isolation)3 sets x 6-8 repshamstring

quads machine (isolation)3 sets x 6-8 repsquads

Day 3HIIT – using rowing machine or mins warm up at slow pace, rowing machine – (30 secs at max pace/resistance, 1 min – slow pace) – 1 rep – total 6 reps, 5 mins cool down at slow pace5 mins warm up at slow pace, rowing machine – (30 secs at max pace/resistance, 1 min – slow pace) – 1 rep – total 6 reps, 5 mins cool down at a slow pace or Blowflex warm up using a short walk – then follow youtube for 6 mins and cool down for 5 mins

Day 4Abs & Glutes

Barbell Glute bridges3 sets x 6-8 repsGlutes

Landmine 180s3 sets x 8-12 repsAbs including obliques

Crunches – forward50 in totalupper abs

Crunches – reverse50 in totalreverse

Machine groin workout

Day 5Biceps & Back

Deadlift – rogue barbell – emphasis on Quads3 sets x 6-8 repsQuads, lower back

Chins ups/Pull ups/Neutral grip Chin upsideally 30 – do as much 1 canLats, Biceps, Middle Back

Barbell rows – both grips – supinated and pronated4-6 sets – 6 x 8 repsupper middle back, lower middle backdepending on the grip

Smith Machine Shrugs3 sets x 8 repsupper back

Hammer curl3 sets x 8 repsDifferent part of Biceps

Barbell curl3 sets x 8 repsCompliments Hammer curl hitting other parts of Biceps

Farmer walk with Dumbbells3 sets x 8 repsForearms

Day 6HIIT or Shoulders/Triceps

Overhead Press (or Military press)3 sets x 8 repsfront shouldersIf HIIT, Add Overhead press + Dips triceps version to Day 1 – chest workout

Dips – Triceps version – straight3 sets x 8 repsTriceps

Dumbbell overhead press
Middle shoulders

Dumbbell Reverse Flys
rear shoulders

Close Grip bench press

reverse grip bench press (smith machine)

EZ bar Skull Crusher

Day 7Rest

*The green background highlighted exercises are the exercises I recommend for beginners and these are compound exercises

*   is a good link to check the form. 

Deadlift at high volume using Rogue Barbell induces HGH/Testosterone while building Quadriceps muscle
Deadlift with regular Barbell boosts HGH/Testosterone and contributes to Hamstring muscle growth


  • Progressive weights is good i..e. adding weights over weeks
  • No muscle group can get a workout on 2 consecutive days to allow time for muscle group to heal – body building is a 3 step process – cause microscopic tears to muscle during exercise, provide nutrition to the body  to heal the muscle group and rest the muscle group causes muscle fibers to stretch which is what muscle growth is all about
  • 6-12 reps is for muscle growth, 3-5 reps per set is for strength/power building – Alternating between these reps every 2-3 weeks will help in progressive weight training 
  • If 1 can beyond 12 reps, then adjust/increase the weight 
  • Good Sleep is essential for muscle growth and weight loss
  • Form is essential to avoid injury
  • Confuse muscles by swapping the above exercises with different set of exercises for the same muscle group – check exercise guide to swap
  • Emphasis should be on compound exercises
  • Rest for a minute max between sets

Next I will deal with the subject of Intermittent Fasting and how it influences weight loss…….Until Then…….

8 thoughts on “Mechanism of Fat Loss, Hormones, Exercise & Weight Loss

  1. Hi Saran, You are really an inspiration. I do follow you on twitter too.
    Thanks for sharing the workout plan. I have one question : Don’t you include cardio as part of your workout?

    1. I do cardio – 1 mile at low resistance in the treadmill everyday just to relax mid-morning or noon. Apart from that, i dont do much cardio.

      1. To clarify, I used to do HIIT – 5 mins of warm – 30 sec of rowing at high intensity, 1 min of slow rowing – total 6 sets and 5 mins of cooldown – but stopped it after 2-3 months as I was dehydrating. It is just a personal thing that i dehydrate a lot and had to manage it from young age.

  2. Awesome Saran. i read all 3 blogs wrote on your weight loss journey. Very inspiring. Thanks for Sharing and motivating. It has very detailed information. i will call you to get some tips.

    1. RajMohan – I would definitely share any details and we can touch base on weekly basis.

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