Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss

5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss!

Many people enjoy alcohol’s sedating influence and use it as part of our society’s traditions. Here I’ve put together details about alcohol and will explain main concerns, how it is processed, what they contain, and more… Get the facts!

5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss!

Alcohol use—as a well-established part of human culture—is something that has become almost as acceptable as eating and breathing. As a social facilitator and feel good drug of choice for many, alcohol is very popular indeed, with consumption at mass levels.

However, alcohols well-documented deleterious effects—diminished performance, mental impairment, possible addiction, diabetes and liver disease to varying degrees in certain individuals—could be seen as a good reason to steer clear of it.

This being said, many people enjoy its sedating influence and it does play a vital role in many of society’s traditions and practices. One effect alcohol has, which is not widely discussed, is its impact on body composition. In its purest form, ethyl alcohol, which supplies seven calories per gram, alcohol provides energy, bumping up ones total energy balance whenever it is consumed.

Unlike macronutrients such as carbohydratesproteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition. To make matters worse, it is the first fuel to be used when combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, postponing the fat-burning process and contributing to greater fat storage.

Here is what diet guru Robert C. Atkins says regarding alcohols affect on fat storage:

“Here’s the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on the diet. Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that’s going on, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop the weight loss, it simply postpones it, since the alcohol does not store as glycogen, and you immediately go back into ketosis/lipolysis after the alcohol is used up.

If you must drink alcohol, wine is an acceptable addition to levels beyond the Induction diet. If wine does not suit your taste, straight liquor such as scotch, rye, vodka, and gin would be appropriate, as long as the mixer is sugarless; this means no juice, tonic water; or non-diet soda. Seltzer and diet soda are appropriate.”

Although Mr. Atkins suggestions are valid ones, especially as he is advocating the elimination of additional sugars along with the higher calorie beers, any form of alcohol can pose problems for those wanting to shed unwanted fat to look their best.

Main concerns are as follows:

1. Alcohol Supplies Almost Twice As Many Calories As Protein And Carbs

At seven calories per gram, alcohol supplies almost twice as many as protein and carbohydrates. In fact, alcohol has only two fewer calories than fat, which has nine per gram. It must also be remembered that the calories in alcohol lack the nutrients beneficial for a healthy metabolism and will therefore hasten fat storage.

The calories found in the average alcoholic drink are quite concentrated compared to many foods, and this actually causes one to inadvertently take in many more calories than would otherwise be consumed. Alcohol is quite deceptive in that it passes through the system rapidly, often before the drinker is aware of the number of drinks they have had.

Alcoholic drinks also contain calories from other sources, which add to overall caloric intake. Certain cocktails, for example, contain fats. Wine and beer both have high carbohydrate content. Although the affects these various calorie types have on the body are different—carbohydrates release insulin, which can hasten fat storage, while fats will be stored directly in the fat cells—the overall result is added body fat.

An example of how many calories can be easily consumed can be seen with a small glass of wine: a 5-ounce glass of wine will typically contain 110 calories, 91 of which come from the alcohol itself (13 grams), with the remaining five grams coming from carbohydrates.

Beer contains more carbohydrates (although many of the “Lite” beers have a carb content similar to a glass of wine) and less alcohol than wine, but is seen as being more fattening, due to its higher energy content.

2. Alcohol Loosens The Inhibitions

While drinking, people usually will not stop to consider the impact alcohol is having on their bodies; such is alcohol’s affect on loosening the inhibitions. The result of this relaxed thinking could mean more calories consumed and extra body fat gains. Those drinking might also eat more of the wrong kinds of food, without thinking of the consequences.


Those drinking might also eat more of the wrong kinds of food, without thinking of the consequences.

Alcohol tends to have an appetite stimulating effect as it provides little in the way of nutrition, leaving a craving for other foods at the time of consumption. Add this to the fact that fatty and salty foods tend to accompany most occasions featuring alcohol (as well as alcohol actually stimulating one’s appetite for these kinds of foods), and the general loosening of resolve that goes with an inebriated mindset, and you have a recipe for excess fat gain. Alcohol has also been shown to affect motivation, making a healthy diet harder to stay on while it is being used.

3. Alcohol Can Damage The Stomach, Kidneys, And Liver

Given alcohol is a by-product of yeast digestion; it can have an irritating effect on the lining of the stomach and gradually weaken the kidneys and liver, leading to serious health problems—even death in certain instances. Any weakening of the stomach will lessen the rate and efficiency at which food is digested, which ultimately interferes with a healthy metabolism and the weight loss process.

The liver—which processes toxins and breaks down fats for fuel—is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy body composition. Alcohol is at its most destructive during the liver’s detoxification process.

4. Alcohol Lowers Testosterone

Testosterone, which has a powerful fat loss effect, is reduced whenever alcohol is consumed, thus halting its full potential as a fat burner. Also, testosterone as an anabolic hormone, contributes to gains in lean muscle mass. Lowered testosterone means fewer muscle gains, and less muscle means a lowered metabolic rate.

A lower metabolic rate will make the job of losing fat all the more harder. This is what governs the way we use energy. Those with a higher metabolic rate will burn more calories at rest. By interfering with testosterone production, alcohol indirectly causes the body to lower its metabolic rate (and thus the rate at which it uses energy) and directly prohibits testosterone from exerting its powerful fat-burning effects.


Lowered testosterone means fewer muscle gains, and less muscle means a lowered metabolic rate

5. Alcohol Increases Appetite

Touched on briefly in point two, alcohol can increase appetite, making the combination of alcohol and a fattening meal all the more worse. A Canadian study showed that alcohol consumed before a meal increased caloric intake to a far greater extent than did a carbohydrate drink. Also, researchers from Denmark’s Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University showed that if a group of men were given a meal and allowed to eat as much as they wanted, alcohol, rather than a soft drink, would increase the amount of food consumed.

How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body?

To gain an understanding of why alcohol affects us the way it does, it is important to known how it is processed in the body.

After consuming the first alcoholic drink, 25% of this alcohol is absorbed straight from the stomach into the bloodstream, with the remainder taken in through the small bowel. Alcohol is generally absorbed fairly rapidly, but its absorption can be quickened depending on several factors:

  1. The amount of food in the stomach (a fuller stomach slows the rate of absorption).
  2. Whether the drink is carbonated (champagne is absorbed more quickly than non-sparkling drinks).
  3. Alcohol concentration of the drink (higher alcohol drinks are absorbed faster).

Around 98% of alcohol that is consumed is processed in the liver, with the other two to ten percent being expelled through urine, breathing, or sweat. The amount of alcohol in a standard drink will take around 10 hours for the average person to process, which means the more that is consumed at any one point, the greater the rise in blood alcohol content. When the liver processes alcohol, it does so in one of two ways.

For the most part, alcohol is broken down by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH, which is contained in the liver cells). ADH then metabolizes the alcohol into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is broken down into acetate by another enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase. In the final stage, the acetate is further metabolized to where it eventually exits the body as waste products carbon dioxide and water.


Around 98% of alcohol that is consumed is processed in the liver.

The other way alcohol can be processed is a less common alternative, which uses a different set of liver enzymes. This alternative pathway, called the microsomal ethanol-oxidizing system, is used when the blood has very high levels of alcohol.

Calorie And Nutrient Content Of Popular Alcohol Drinks

The alcohol content of our most popular beverages varies, so it is important to know exactly what percentage of alcohol is in any given drink if one is wanting to limit all the empty calories. The following percentages are usually contained in each standard drink—five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof (40% alcohol) distilled liquor.

  • Beer: 5% alcohol
  • Wine: 12% alcohol
  • 100 proof liquor: 50% alcohol
  • 80 proof liquor: 40% alcohol

The caloric content and nutrient breakdown of several popular alcohol choices follows.



One Can Of Regular 4-5% Alcohol Beer Contains:

  • 14 milligrams of sodium (1%).
  • 12.6 grams of carbohydrates (4%).
  • 1.6 grams of protein.
  • 14.2 milligrams of calcium.
  • 96.1 grams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 153 (includes 97 calories from alcohol).

One Can Of Low Alcohol (2.3% Alcohol) Beer Contains:

  • 34.7grams of carbohydrates (12%).
  • Total Calories: 139.

One Can Of Lite Beer Contains:

  • 14 milligrams of sodium.
  • 5.9 grams of carbohydrates.
  • 0.98 grams of proteins.
  • 14.4 milligrams of calcium.
  • 75.6 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 105 (includes 78 calories from alcohol).


One Glass Of Champagne Contains:

  • 2 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Total Calories: 85 (includes 77 calories from alcohol).

One Glass Of Dessert Wine (Sweet) Contains:

  • 9 milligrams of sodium.
  • 14.1 grams of carbohydrates.
  • 0.1 milligrams of calcium.
  • 0.9 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 165 (includes 110 calories from alcohol).

One Glass Of Reduced Alcohol (6%) Wine Contains:

  • 10 milligrams of sodium.
  • 13.3 milligrams of calcium.
  • 130.2 milligrams of potassium.
  • 1.7 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Total Calories: 74 (including 66 calories from alcohol).

One Glass Of Red Wine (Claret) Contains:

  • 4.4 grams of carbohydrate.
  • 0.1 grams of protein.
  • Total Calories: 123 (including 105 calories from alcohol).

One Glass Of Table Wine Contains:

  • 7 milligrams of sodium.
  • 4 grams of carbohydrate.
  • 0.1 grams of protein.
  • 11.8 milligrams of calcium.
  • 146.5 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 124 (including 108 from alcohol)/

One Glass Of White Wine (Riesling, Chablis) Contains:

  • 5.5 grams of carbohydrate.
  • 0.1 grams of protein.
  • Total Calories: 120 (including 98 calories from alcohol).

One Glass Of White Sparkling Wine Contains:

  • 4 grams of carbohydrates (all of white are sugars).
  • Total Calories: 93 (including 77 calories from alcohol)


One Ounce Of Gin (40% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 0.6 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 64 from alcohol content.

One Ounce Of Rum (40% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 0.6 grams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 64 from alcohol content.

One Ounce Of Vodka (40% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 0.6 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 64 from alcohol content.

One Ounce Of Whiskey (40% Alcohol Contains):

  • 0.6 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 64 from alcohol content.


One Nip Of Baileys Irish Cream Contains:

  • 5.8 grams of fat (3.5 grams of this saturated fat).
  • 14 milligrams of cholesterol.
  • 33 milligrams of sodium.
  • 7.4 grams of carbohydrate.
  • 1.2 grams of protein.
  • Total Calories: 121 (including 35 from alcohol).

One Nip Of Ouzo (40% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 11 grams of carbohydrate (10.9 of this is sugar).
  • Total Calories: 103 (including 70 from alcohol).

One Nip Of Schnapps (40% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 7 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Total Calories: 100 (including 70 from alcohol).

One Nip Of Curacao (35% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 6 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Total Calories: 95 (including 56 from alcohol).

One Nip Of Amaretto (38% Alcohol) Contains:

  • 17 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Total Calories: 110 (including 42 from alcohol).

One Nip Of Coffee Liqueur Contains:

  • 3 milligrams of sodium.
  • 11.2 grams of carbohydrate (all sugars).
  • 0.3 milligrams of calcium.
  • 10.4 milligrams of potassium.
  • Total Calories: 107 (including 63 from alcohol).

What Are The Best Alcohol Choices

If you really have to drink, what are the best choices? Some lower calorie brands to hit the market are showing promise, as are some of the more traditional alternatives.

As shown above, total caloric content of various alcoholic drinks varies, with beer generally containing the highest number, considering the smaller amount of alcohol found in this drink compared with others. Various spirits (also known as liquor) generally contain around 64 calories per nip, but these do add up depending on the strength of the drink (for example, a double will contain two nips, or 128 calories).

Combine this with one glass of coke (around 180 calories, 95% of these from sugars) and your typical bourbon and coke could supply 308 calories—double the number found in the average can of beer. Wine generally contains around 100 to 125 calories per medium sized glass. It also contains more alcohol than beer given the same volume, making it a better choice calorie-wise, as less would be consumed at any one sitting.

Liqueurs, although usually around 100 calories per nip, are often consumed with other, often-higher calorie mixers such as coke or milk to make cocktails, bumping the calorie content way up. Baileys Irish Creme, one of the highest calorie alcohols, contains 121 calories per nip, with a comparatively low alcohol content (17% compared to around 25-35 for most liqueurs). It is usually consumed 2-3 nips at a time given its lower alcohol strength. It is definitely one worth avoiding if weight loss is the aim.


Drink alcohol with a lower caloric value, and a higher alcohol percentage (like wine for example). Less will be consumed, meaning lower overall calorie consumption.

The worst alcohol choices would be the cream based drinks such as eggnog (340 calories without the alcohol) and an Amaretto Sour (includes tequila and orange juice and contains 421 calories). The highest calorie cocktail of the all would be the Vodka Mudslide, which contains coffee liqueur, Irish cream and vanilla ice cream and supplies 820 calories.

It would be better to drink a smaller quantity of liqueur with a healthier, lower calorie base such as trim milk or tomato juice (the latter being the base for a Bloody Mary cocktail).

Given alcohol taste is an individual matter, and people will usually choose what they like, rather than what they are advised to consume based on the health content of the drink, it is no easy task trying to persuade someone to change their drinking habits. The above information can however be used by one who is wanting to make some physical changes by lowering the overall caloric content of what they drink.

Some more general guidelines follow:

  1. Drink alcohol with a lower caloric value, and a higher alcohol percentage (like wine for example). Less will be consumed, meaning lower overall calorie consumption.
  2. Avoid high-calorie liqueurs. These are extremely deceptive (they taste so good) and will add enormously to overall caloric content.
  3. Keep healthy food on hand when drinking. As mentioned, drinking will relax the inhibitions and cause one to compromise their nutritional habits.
  4. If drinking beer, try a lower calorie alternative. Also, drink diet sodas with various spirits to significantly lower the calorie content of these drinks.
  5. Drink water between alcoholic drinks. This will increase feelings of fullness and may help to prevent over consumption of alcohol.


So what is one to do? Given alcohol plays a large role in celebration and social cohesion, can one completely refrain from its use? It really depends on the goals a person has. Most could probably consume moderate levels of alcohol (two or three standard drinks three to four times per week) without any problem.

Larger amounts (more than seven drinks at any one time), often described as binge drinking, can cause major problems and probably should not be advocated. Maintaining reasonable levels of health, while enjoying a few drinks—using moderation as the key—should be no problem. However, athletes—who definitely are not your average population—wanting to improve performance, and those wanting to lose weight are a different issue entirely.

Alcohol, as shown, will negate any efforts to lose body fat and will alter performance for the worst. The best advice would be to totally abstain until performance and weight loss goals are obtained.

Ray Audette, author of the NeanderThin Diet, provides sound advice for anyone wanting to lose weight while drinking alcohol. Remember, to be at your best physically you can’t have it both ways and Mr Audette provides a good rationale as to why.

“Don’t Drink Alcohol[.] It is best not to consume alcohol in any amount from any source. Alcohol is a by-product of yeast digestion (the yeast equivalent of urine) and is known to damage the stomach, kidneys, and liver. Alcohol adds fat principally by producing cravings for both it and other carbohydrates (see snack trays at any bar) and even other addictive substances (ask any former smoker.) It is almost impossible to drink alcohol and follow the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. If you must drink, do so only on special occasions (once or twice a year) and stick to alcohols derived from fruit (wine and champagne.)”

  1. Buemann, B., Toubro, S., & Astrup, A. (2002). The effect of wine or beer versus a carbonated soft drink, served at a meal, on ad libitum energy intake. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 26, 1367-1372.
  2. Borushek, A. (2006). CalorieKing alcohol information. [Online]
  3. Shape Fit. (2006). How alcohol effects your weight loss—alcohol calories and fat. [Online]
  4. Tremblay, A., & St-Pierre, S. (1996). The hyperphagic effect of a high-fat diet and alcohol intake persists after control for energy density. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63, 479-482.

Diabetes is not taking up enough glucose due to either the lack of insulin or a resistance to insulin – due to presence of bad fat

insulin.JPGFacts about Diabetes and Insulin

Diabetes is a very common disease, which, if not treated, can be very dangerous. There are two types of diabetes. They were once called juvenile-onset diabetes and adult diabetes. However, today we know that all ages can get both types so they are simply called type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The cells of a person with diabetes have problems taking up glucose due to either the lack of insulin or a resistance to insulin. Instead, the sugar remains in the blood, resulting in the rise of blood glucose levels.

Besides fructose, trans fat (NOT saturated fat) increases your risk for diabetes by interfering with your insulin receptors.

Type 1 and type 2 diagramType 1, which occurs in approximately 10 percent of all cases, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, by mistake, attacks its own insulin-producing cells so that insufficient amounts of insulin are produced – or no insulin at all. Type 1 affects predominantly young people and usually makes its debut before the age of 30, and most frequently between the ages of 10 and 14.

Type 2, which makes up the remaining 90 percent of diabetes cases, commonly affects patients during the second half of their lives. The cells of the body no longer react to insulin as they should. This is called insulin resistance.

In the early 1920s, Frederick Banting, John Macleod, George Best and Bertram Collip isolated the hormone insulin and purified it so that it could be administered to humans. This was a major breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes type 1.



Insulin is a hormone. Hormones are chemical substances that regulate the cells of the body and are produced by special glands. The hormone insulin is a main regulator of the glucose (sugar) levels in the blood.

Insulin is produced in the pancreas. To be more specific, it’s produced by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. When we eat, glucose levels rise, and insulin is released into the bloodstream. The insulin acts like a key, opening up cells so they can take in the sugar and use it as an energy source.

Sugar is one of the top energy sources for the body. The body gets it in many forms, but mainly as carbohydrates that are broken down to glucose during the digestive process. Examples of food rich in carbohydrates are pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, and of course, all sorts of sweets.

The cells of a person with diabetes have problems taking up glucose due to either the lack of insulin or a resistance to insulin. Instead, the sugar remains in the blood, resulting in the rise of blood glucose levels.

People with type 1 diabetes must have injections of insulin every day. Each diabetic patient needs an exact dose of insulin, calculated especially for him or her. An overdose of insulin lowers the blood sugar concentration. If it becomes too low, it can result in a coma and eventually death. An overdose is treated by giving the patient sugar in a form that is as pure as possible – for example, orange juice or table sugar. If the patient is in a coma, glucose must be injected directly into the bloodstream.

If a diabetic gets too little insulin, he or she can go into a coma just as when overdosing insulin. The two types of coma are very hard to distinguish from each other without testing the blood glucose levels of the patient. If the levels are low, the patient suffers from an overdose of insulin. If blood glucose levels are high, the patient doesn’t have enough insulin.

Insulin key-lock
Insulin helps a cell absorb glucose from the bloodstream.


Production of Insulin

So how is insulin for medical use made? For a long time insulin was extracted from the pancreases of cattle or pigs, and then it was purified so that it could be safely administered to humans. Today, it’s more common to instruct genetically modified bacteria or yeast to produce a perfect copy of human insulin.

More About Diabetes

Type 1

In type 1 diabetes the body’s immune system erroneously attacks its own beta cells, thereby destroying insulin production. Why does this happen? Scientists do not know, but it is likely that the condition develops gradually in a series of steps. Starting from a hereditary predisposition, various environmental influences (viral infections and poisoning are suspected) have to take effect, one after the other, before the self-destruction of insulin begins.

With insulin treatment, a type 1 patient can live a perfectly normal life. Left untreated however, type 1 diabetes can rapidly lead to a life-threatening situation. The kidneys strive to remove the excess glucose, which pulls water with it and leads to heavy urination and an insatiable thirst. The fat cells are broken down to counter sugar loss, and toxic levels of acids build up in the blood – a condition known as ketoacidosis.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes

  • excessive thirst and dehydration
  • frequent urination
  • hunger, accompanied by weight loss
  • blurred vision
  • weakness, tiredness, or sleepiness
  • vomiting or nausea
  • sudden irritability


Type 2

Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance. This means that the cells don’t react to insulin the way they are supposed to. Normally, insulin binds to receptors on the cell surface. This activates the cell’s glucose transporter molecules to form a doorway in the cell membrane so that glucose can enter the cell. However, when insulin resistance occurs, there’s a reduced response to the insulin signals. Therefore, fewer doorways are formed and some glucose is locked out of the cells.

Type 2 diabetes is often hard to discover. An average of seven years passes from the onset of the disease to its diagnosis. This means that a fraction of the patients already suffer damage to their blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, or nerves. In most cases, type 2 diabetes patients are instructed to lead a life with “a healthy diet and lots of exercise.” About one out of three patients receive insulin. Many patients are treated with a variety of oral drugs that affect blood glucose levels in various ways.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

  • fatigue
  • excessive thirst
  • frequent urination
  • blurred vision
  • mood changes
  • a high rate of infections
  • slow healing process


Diabetes – A Global Problem

Diabetes is a very common and rapidly growing disease. Type 2 diabetes was once a problem of industrialized nations, but it’s fast becoming a global epidemic. In the year 2025, the number of adults with diabetes in the world is expected to be 300 million. That is approximately the same as the entire population of the United States in 2002.

 It is estimated that 1/3 of Americans born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.


  • Bad Fat and Insulin

  • Besides fructose, trans fat (NOT saturated fat) increases your risk for diabetes by interfering with your insulin receptors. Healthy saturated fats do not do this. Since you’re cutting out a lot of energy (carbs) from your diet when you reduce sugars and grains, you need to replace them with something.

  • “Bad” Fats “Good” Fats
    Saturated, Hydrogenated & Trans Fats Mono-and Polyunsaturated Fats
    Strictly limit intake: Use in moderation:
    Solid at room temperature Liquid at room temperature
    Animal Fats (Saturated fats)

      • Meats, cheese, cream, butter,
      • Lard, chicken skin
    Plant Oils

      • Olive, safflower, canola,
      • Sunflower, soy, peanut oils
    Nuts and avocados
    Hydrogenated Oils (Trans fats)

      • Stick margarines, shortening, fast-food, processed food
    Omega-3 fats

      • Salmon, mackerel, herring,
      • Flaxseeds, walnuts, soybean and
    • Canola oils
  • Fat is the Cause of Type 2 Diabetes.

  • If you have diabetes, the daily limit on cholesterol is 200 mg a day.
  • They find that consumption of a high-fat diet and high intakes of saturated fat are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • When you eat carb-rich foods, your blood sugar rises. To shuttle the sugar into muscles cells for fuel, insulin is released. When your muscle cells have taken all the sugar they can hold, sugar gets shuttled somewhere else… to your fat cells! This is why insulin is known as the “fat-storage hormone”.

    Not only does this cause weight gain, but it can also lead to (or worsen!) insulin resistance and diabetes.

    Healthy fats, on the other hand, have negligible effect on blood sugar levels. And despite their bad rap, fats are essential for nutrient absorption, regulating inflammation and even balancing blood sugar and fostering weight loss.

  • UCSF Videos:
    Top Questions for the Dietitian

    Linda White Gray, RD, CDE
    UCSF Nutrition and Food Services
    See the video »

    The Truth Behind the Headlines
    Robert Rushakoff, MD
    Professor of Medicine, Director of Inpatient Diabetes, UCSF
    See the video »

    The Cure: How Close Are We?
    Joseph Becker, MD
    Clinical Fellow
    UCSF Med/Endocrinology
    See the video »

    What You Need to Know About Preparing For Procedures
    Umesh Masharani, MD
    Clinical Professor, Associate Director Diabetes Clinic, UCSF
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    Coping and Burnout
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    See the video »

  • insulin 6insulin 5insulin 4insulin 3insulin 2

Fat Burner vs. Sugar Burner: Which One Are You?

By JJ Virgin

I often talk about how important it is to be a fat burner instead of a sugar burner, but what does that really mean? Instead of diving straight into the science, let’s keep this simple: do any of these apply to you?

You know you’re a sugar burner if…

… you rarely feel completely full and satisfied after a meal. Stuffed, maybe. Bloated and uncomfortable, yes. But ready to go another 4-6 hours without anything else to eat? No way.

… you snack regularly. You typically graze throughout the day, even when you’ve resolved to stop eating so much between meals. If you don’t snack, you feel lethargic and moody.

… you often get “hangry.” You’re no stranger to apologizing for being irritable because you were hungry. Your friends and family know that a bad attitude = hand you some food.

… you crave carbs and sugar. A meal isn’t complete without potatoes, rolls, or pasta. Dessert is a must. And when you try to eat less sugar, you find yourself cranky and unable to focus.

… you have a hard time losing weight, especially around your middle. You’ve tried multiple diets, and even when you manage to lose a few pounds, your belly never seems to shrink.

What It Means to Be a Sugar Burner

Being a sugar burner is just what it sounds like: your primary source of fuel is glucose, which gives your body no reason to access your fat stores for fuel. Why should it, since your body runs on a steady supply of carbs?

The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar goes. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more insulin your body is forced to produce in order to return those levels to normal.

All that insulin comes with several major drawbacks, including blocking leptin production. Leptin is your appetite-control hormone. Without it, your brain never gets that signal that says you’re full. That’s why sugar burners are often hungry and overweight.1

The Danger of Using Sugar for Fuel

Anytime you diet and lose weight without losing waist, you’re actually making things worse.

It’s a vicious cycle. Being a sugar burner means your body needs more insulin and hangs on to fat; in turn, high body fat makes you less responsive to insulin.2 That insulin resistance causes its own set of problems, including increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other inflammatory disease.3,4 As a result, sugar burners often suffer from joint pain, headaches, skin trouble, and other uncomfortable issues.5-7Even when sugar burners lose weight, they seldom lose fat. And anytime you diet and lose weight without losing waist, you’re actually making things worse. You’re training your body to store your fat even more stubbornly.

The results can be miserable: sugar burners often suffer from anxiety or depression, constant cravings, and obesity. With time, they develop symptoms ranging from high blood pressure to elevated cholesterol.8,9

What It Means to be a Fat Burner

The goal is to be a fat burner. By eating fewer carbs and more clean, lean protein and healthy fats, you train your body to burn fat for fuel.

As a fat burner, your system still burns carbs as fuel first and will use the small amount of sugar you get from slow-low carbs like vegetables, quinoa, or legumes. Then your metabolism quickly turns to your fat stores for energy.

Because fat burns more slowly and steadily, fat burners can easily go 4-6 hours between meals and don’t suffer from sugar or carb cravings.10 They also lose fat easily and experience more steady energy.

How to Make the Change

If you recognize yourself as a sugar burner, the WORST thing you can do is go sugar-free. Suddenly cutting off that supply of glucose and carbs will make you feel awful and set you up for a cycle of yo-yo dieting and further health issues.


Instead, gradually lower your sugar impact by eliminating the most harmful sugars and replacing high-sugar impact foods with healthier options.JJ VirginClick to tweet

The Sugar Impact Diet walks you through that process of shifting from sugar burner to fat burner.If you think you’d benefit from more resources and hands-on support, I recommend the Sugar Impact Diet Online Program. It’s got a private Facebook community and dozens of videos, guides, menus, recipes, and assessment tools to help you customize the Sugar Impact Diet so it fits your body and lifestyle. While I call it a “diet,” the goal is actually a permanent change in how you live, feel, and think. (Not bad for less than the cost of a single visit to a nutritionist…)

You can find out more about the Sugar Impact Diet Online Program here. If you’re a sugar burner, it’s not too late to stop the cycle of mood swings, hunger, energy crashes, and brain fog. Your body and your loved ones will thank you!


Article Sources:

1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17212793
2 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160307113548.htm
3 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(99)01046-6/abstract
4 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/types/prediabetes-insulin-resistance
5 http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=393279&resultclick=1
6 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1483173/
7 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1839979/
8 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2796.1992.tb00494.x/full
9 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7512468
10 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/65/5/1410.abstract

Alcohol, virus, sugar and fats lead to fatty liver

fatty liver.JPG

Fatty liver phenotypes can help assess cardiometabolic risk in prediabetic patients

Insulin secretion failure, visceral obesity and fatty liver are three at risk phenotypes in people with diabetes.

Fatty change represents the intracytoplasmatic accumulation of triglycerides (neutral fats). At the beginning, the hepatocytes present small fat vacuoles (liposomes) around the nucleus (microvesicular fatty change). In this stage, liver cells are filled with multiple fat droplets that do not displace the centrally located nucleus. In the late stages, the size of the vacuoles increases, pushing the nucleus to the periphery of the cell, giving characteristic signet ring appearance (macrovesicular fatty change).

These vesicles are well-delineated and optically “empty” because fats dissolve during tissue processing. Large vacuoles may coalesce and produce fatty cysts, which are irreversible lesions. Macrovesicular steatosis is the most common form and is typically associated with alcohol, diabetes, obesity, and corticosteroids. Acute fatty liver of pregnancy and Reye’s syndromeare examples of severe liver disease caused by microvesicular fatty change.[6] The diagnosis of steatosis is made when fat in the liver exceeds 5–10% by weight.[1][7][8]

Mechanism leading to hepatic steatosis

Defects in fatty acid metabolism are responsible for pathogenesis of FLD, which may be due to imbalance in energy consumption and its combustion, resulting in lipid storage, or can be a consequence of peripheral resistance to insulin, whereby the transport of fatty acids from adipose tissue to the liver is increased.[1][9]

Impairment or inhibition of receptor molecules (PPAR-α, PPAR-γ and SREBP1) that control the enzymes responsible for the oxidation and synthesis of fatty acids appears to contribute to fat accumulation. In addition, alcoholism is known to damage mitochondria and other cellular structures, further impairing cellular energy mechanism. On the other hand, non-alcoholic FLD may begin as excess of unmetabolised energy in liver cells. Hepatic steatosis is considered reversible and to some extent nonprogressive if the underlying cause is reduced or removed.

Micrograph of inflamed fatty liver (steatohepatitis)

Severe fatty liver is sometimes accompanied by inflammation, a situation referred to as steatohepatitis. Progression to alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) depends on the persistence or severity of the inciting cause. Pathological lesions in both conditions are similar. However, the extent of inflammatory response varies widely and does not always correlate with degree of fat accumulation. Steatosis (retention of lipid) and onset of steatohepatitis may represent successive stages in FLD progression.[10]

Liver disease with extensive inflammation and a high degree of steatosis often progresses to more severe forms of the disease.[11] Hepatocyte ballooning and necrosis of varying degrees are often present at this stage. Liver cell death and inflammatory responses lead to the activation of hepatic stellate cells, which play a pivotal role in hepatic fibrosis. The extent of fibrosis varies widely. Perisinusoidal fibrosis is most common, especially in adults, and predominates in zone 3 around the terminal hepatic veins.[12]

The progression to cirrhosis may be influenced by the amount of fat and degree of steatohepatitis and by a variety of other sensitizing factors. In alcoholic FLD, the transition to cirrhosis related to continued alcohol consumption is well-documented, but the process involved in non-alcoholic FLD is less clear.

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects up to 25 percent of Americans, including children

  • If you have NAFLD, the first step for treatment should be to limit your fructose consumption to under 15 grams per day (including fruits)

  • Fructose is, in many ways, very similar to alcohol in the damage that it can do to your body… and your liver.

  • Eating right and exercising can often prevent this condition and may even reverse it in its early stages

  • fruc.JPG
  • His findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,4 where Dr. Lustig explained the three similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct, ethanol (alcohol):
    1. Your liver’s metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream), and fatty liver
    2. Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol
    3. By “stimulating the ‘hedonic pathway’ of the brain both directly and indirectly,” Dr. Lustig noted, “fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol.”

51 fastest fat burner by Kate Ashford


1. Catch the running bug. You’ll continue to burn fat after your jog: People who run for at least four hours a week melt more calories than non-runners, even when they’re not running, a Yale University School of Medicine study reports.
2. Crank it up early. Working out harder during the first half of your workout and taking it easier during the second burns up to 23 percent more fat than doing the opposite, according to a study from The College of New Jersey.
3 & 4. Go hard — and make it quick. Staying at 80 percent of your max heart rate for 40 minutes can amp your metabolism for 19 hours afterward, research published in Obesity notes. And doing a shorter workout at 75 percent of your max aerobic capacity will give you a greater metabolic boost than sweating longer at 50 percent, a Colorado State University reveals.
5 to 7. Lift dumbbells … slowly. More muscle equals mega metabolism boost. Strength training can help you trim major fat, research reveals — and doing super-slow (versus normal speed) reps increases strength by 50 percent.
Plus, using dumbbells activates more muscle fibers than using machines, explains Gregory Haff, Ph.D., an associate professor in the exercise physiology department at West Virginia University.
8. Speed up, slow down. Alternating bouts of high-intensity and low-intensity cardio has been shown to torch pounds.
9. Put on weight (literally). Wearing a weighted vest (about 10 percent of your body weight) while walking can boost your calorie burn by 8 percent.
10. Download Rihanna, not Brahms. Listening to up-tempo songs actually makes you run faster and harder than listening to slower-paced music, British scientists say.
11. Let kettlebells ring. Not only does working out with kettlebells build muscle, but doing it for 20 minutes burns as many calories as running at a 6-minute-mile pace for the same amount of time.

Get gorgeous arms

12. Keep it up. As few as 80 minutes a week of aerobic or weight training helps keep you from regaining belly fat after losing weight, according to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
13. Add poles. Use Nordic poles while you walk, and you’ll burn 20 percent more calories, says research from The Cooper Institute in Dallas.
14 & 15. Lift first, nix the rest. Doing strength training before cardio can torch more fat than cardio alone. And if you do one move after another without pausing, “you’ll see more gains in strength and muscle mass,” says Dr. Pierre Manfroy, M.D., consultant for the book “100 Ways to Supercharge Your Metabolism.”
16. Add pounds. Lift heavier weights for fewer reps to make your workout more intense — and burn more fat — Manfroy says.
17. Try aromatherapy. Exercisers who inhaled strawberry and buttered-popcorn scents torched more calories than those who sniffed neutral odors, according to research from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.

18. Box yourself in. Wii boxing knocks out nearly twice as many calories as some other games, like Wii golf.
19. Kick it. Playing soccer not only torches more fat and builds more muscle than jogging, but it feels less tiring, Danish research reveals.
20. Stay in shape. Fit people have more fat-burning metabolites in their blood than couch potatoes do, scientists say.


22. Get more protein. Eating a protein-packed breakfast and lunch helps you burn more post-meal fat than if you eat lower-protein meals, according to Australian research.
23 & 24. Guzzle green tea — or coffee. Downing five 5-ounce cups of green tea a day boosts metabolism, says Lyssie Lakatos, R.D., author of “Fire Up Your Metabolism.” Two cups of coffee will also do the trick, one study shows.

25. Have an omelet. Eating two eggs for breakfast while dieting will help you trim more weight and body fat than if you ate the same amount of calories noshing on a bagel, scientists say.
26. Stay above 1,200 calories... “The average person’s body goes into starvation mode if she eats fewer than 1,200 calories a day,” says Eric Berg, author of “The 7 Principles of Fat Burning.” “That’s stress, and stress creates more belly fat.”
27. … and cut calories gradually. If you diet, don’t trim more than 250 calories a day. Cutting calories too quickly slows your metabolism down, Dr. Manfroy says.
28 to 33. Munch on these. Almonds, cherries, yogurt, grapefruit, whole grains, and spicy foods have all been shown to torch fat.
Health.com: 7 foods that fight fat
34. Fuel up right. Eating a low-glycemic-index breakfast (such as muesli and peaches) will help you burn more fat during a subsequent workout than eating a high-glycemic-index meal (like waffles), researchers from the University of Nottingham reveal.
35. Think before you drink. Sipping as few as 90 calories’ worth of vodka can slow your metabolism by 73 percent, one study shows.
36. Graze. Women who go without eating for long periods are more likely to have higher body-fat percentages than women who nosh more regularly, one study notes.
37. Dine like a Greek. Eating a diet rich in monounsaturated fat (think olive oil, avocados) can help trim both weight and fat, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows.
38. Stop gorging. Your body can only handle so much food at a time, so stick to 600 calories or less per meal to maximize fat-burning, says Leslie Cooper, co-author of “Flip the Switch: Proven Strategies to Fuel Your Metabolism and Burn Fat 24 Hours a Day.”
39. Skip juice, soda and sugar. Reaching for an apple instead of apple juice is not only better calorie-wise, but it’ll also do a better job of boosting your metabolism, Dr. Manfroy explains.


41 & 42. Get C and D. Vitamin C can help you burn more fat, and D may help you lose fat, research notes. Aim for 400 to 500 mg of C and 800 mg of D a day.
43 & 44. Walk more (in denim). Researchers found that fitness-friendly offices (think treadmill desks, mobile headsets) helped people trim pounds and fat, as did wearing jeans to work, since dressing casual encourages you to move more. Wear comfy clothes when you can, pace while on the phone, and stand while chatting with co-workers.
45. Add fish oil (And work out). Taking 6 grams of fish oil per day and hitting the gym three times a week can help nix body fat, an Australian study reveals.
46. Work the day shift. Keeping nontraditional hours lowers levels of hormones that trigger satiety, increases blood glucose and insulin levels, and raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which can drive you to eat more), scientists say.
47. Nix the boob tube. Cut your TV time in half, and you’ll burn more calories each day, research from the University of Vermont suggests.

48. Go mental. People who visualized themselves training a specific muscle boosted the strength in that muscle group, researchers found.
49. Eat a smaller dinner. Your body may not digest food — and burn fat — as efficiently if you down a huge meal right before bedtime, especially because your metabolism is slower while you sleep, Dr. Manfroy says.
50. Jump-start your morning. Wake up your metabolism — and get fat-burning started — by doing some sort of exercise within the first few hours of being awake, Cooper suggests.
51. Get your snooze on. Sleep for a solid 81D 2 hours instead of 51D 2, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and you’ll lose more fat. Sweet dreams!

Metabolism Myths

It’s time you know the burning truths about your metabolism. (Credit: Corbis/C.J. Burton/Yahoo)

Most of us know the basic formula for weight loss: If calories out exceed calories in, the pounds will fall off. But what sounds so simple can actually be a bit complicated when you consider the “calories out” half of the equation.

Obviously, physical activity — whether a workout at the gym or simply walking up stairs — requires energy. But our bodies also use calories to keep the lights on — our heart needs energy to pump, and our lungs need energy to enable us to breathe. This is called our “resting metabolic rate,” and along with the calories we burn through exercise and digesting food, it makes up what most of us refer to simply as our “metabolism.”

Your resting metabolic rate is responsible for about 60 percent of the calories you burn. As a result, “it’s really the main target of both substantiated and unsubstantiated weight loss [strategies],” says Jonathan Mike, PhD, an exercise scientist and strength coach. Yet most of us don’t really know how our metabolism even works — we simply characterize our internal engine as “fast” or “slow,” and if it’s slow, we want to speed it up. The result? We eagerly buy into mainstream myths about metabolism that may do more harm than good.

Myth #1: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it wakes up your metabolism.

We’ve all heard it before: A substantial breakfast is the key to waking up a sluggish metabolism after a night of sleep. But a giant plate of eggs and bacon may not be all it’s cracked up to be: In a 2014 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dieters who ate breakfast lost no more weight than breakfast-skippers did.

In fact, downing a big breakfast may actually be a bad thing: It may delay your body’s shift from parasympathetic mode — the rest-and-restore half of your nervous system — to the more metabolically active sympathetic mode, says Roy Martina, MD, author of Sleep Your Fat Away. “During the night, the nervous system is in parasympathetic mode,” he explains. “That’s where we digest food and restore our body.” If you start your day with a big breakfast, you divert your body’s attention back to digestion and rest — and as a result, the calories you consume are more likely to be directed to your fat reserves, he says.

His advice? Don’t eat first thing after waking up if you’re not hungry. “Postpone breakfast as long as you can,” Martina tells Yahoo Health. “The reason for that is this: We can store unlimited amounts of fat, but we can only store a certain amount of sugar in our body.” So if you delay consuming carbs, your body will burn through its sugar reserves — then move on to torching fat. Of course, if you’re famished come 7 a.m., you should eat, but try to keep it light. “Just eat enough that you feel OK,” advises Martina.

Myth #2: You need to eat every three hours to boost your metabolism.

You can blame bodybuilders for the six-meals-a-day gospel. “Bodybuilders eat 5,000 calories a day — and most aren’t going to have three meals of 1,500 calories each,” says Mike. “They’ll typically break it up.”

For serious weightlifters — and the rare people who have naturally revved-up metabolisms, who Martina calls “fast burners” — grazing all day makes sense. But for the rest of us — who eat, say, 2,000 calories a day — there’s no metabolic motivation for spreading our calories out over six meals.

Need proof? In a British Journal of Nutrition study, when overweight dieters ate either three or six meals a day, with the same total number of calories, they lost the same amount of weight. “Smaller, more frequent meals do not speed metabolism, compared to the same total calories and macronutrients consumed in larger, less-frequent meals,” Mike says.

Plus, if you’re eating multiple times a day, you may end up overeating, allowing your mini meals to turn into full-size ones, says Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

Myth #3: Skipping meals reduces your metabolism.

If you don’t eat dinner, will your metabolism take a nosedive? Probably not. In order for your body’s burn to plummet, you need to restrict your calories to the point that you feel deprived, says Martina. And one missed meal isn’t enough to create a serious energy deficit — it’s only when you follow a low-calorie diet for a long time that your body goes into starvation mode, forcing it to use energy more efficiently (i.e. to burn fewer calories), he says. “Skipping one meal will never do that.”

Of course, if you skip a meal, your body won’t experience the small metabolic boost that occurs after eating — but any drop in your burn rate will be so small that it’d be “difficult to detect,” says Jensen. So why are chronic meal-skippers often overweight? “Skipping a meal might make you overly hungry, so you overeat at your next meal,” Jensen says. In other words, it’s a matter of subsequent meal size — not metabolism.

Myth #4: Overweight people have a slow metabolism, and skinny people have a fast one.

It seems obvious: The fatter you are, the more sluggish your metabolism, right? “As a rule, that’s actually not true,” says Jensen. In fact, he adds, “there are as many skinny people as overweight people with low metabolisms.” Sure, there areslim people with lightning-fast metabolisms. “They cannot sit down for a long time — they’re kind of hyperactive,” Martina says. “They burn so much energy that they can eat much more and get away with it.” But more often, slim folks are simply in tune with their bodies — they eat only what they need, and nothing more. If they do overeat at one meal, they tend to naturally compensate at the next one, preventing them from gaining weight.

And, the truth is, body weight is actually a pretty poor predictor of metabolism — body composition (i.e. how much muscle you have, versus fat) is much more important. “If you have two people, both 180 pounds, and one has 20 pounds of fat and one has 50 pounds of fat, the person with less fat, i.e. more muscle, is going to burn more calories,” says Jensen.

As a general rule, however, overweight people — especially those with some amount of muscle — torch more calories per day than skinny folks, since bigger bodies require more calories for everyday functioning. So why are heavy people still carrying extra baggage if they burn so much energy? Simple: Overweight people may unknowingly consume way more calories than they torch. “Your typical normal-weight person underestimates how much they’ve taken in that day by 20 to 30 percent. Obese people will typically underestimate by as much as 50 percent,” says Jensen. “Someone with a serious weight problem may truly believe they’re taking in a very limited amount of food.”

Related: 5 Vegetables That Make You Fat

Myth #5: Some people must eat fewer than 1,000 calories a day to lose weight.

Unless you have a sluggish thyroid, you probably don’t need to drop down to the 1,000-calorie mark in order to lose weight, says Martina. In fact, “the only people I’ve seen who burn that little are people with long-standing anorexia, who weigh about 70 or 80 pounds,” Jensen says. So why do some dieters insist severe calorie-cutting is the only way to move the scale? Because they expect rapid results. “You’d probably lose weight if you cut back to 1,200 or 1,400 calories, but it wouldn’t be quick and it wouldn’t be consistent,” he says. Read: Your weight will drop even if don’t crash diet — but the number on the scale may stay the same for days at a time, leading you to believe the diet isn’t working.

Myth #6: Yo-yo dieting will destroy your metabolism.

Constantly gaining and losing has been linked to a number of health problems (including some serious ones, likeendometrial cancer). But ruining your body’s ability to burn calories isn’t one of them. Although it may create temporary metabolic drops, “yo-yo dieting won’t permanently wreck your metabolism,” says Mike. Case in point: In a 2013 study in the journal Metabolism, researchers found that severe weight cyclers — people who’d lost 20-plus pounds on three or more occasions — were able to lose weight, shed body fat, and gain lean muscle just as easily as people with fewer fluctuations.

So why do yo-yo’ers find losing weight to be such a struggle? “They’ve lost and gained, lost and gained, and each time, they give up sooner,” says Jensen. “Since they always regain, it seems harder each time, and they give up easier each time.” Read: Each time they try to diet, they feel frustrated faster — and assume their lack of weight loss is because their metabolism has stalled out.

Myth #7: You have no control over your metabolism.

Yes, there’s a genetic component to your body’s burning power. “Even if you match up people with the same amount of lean tissue, you have some who burn 400, 500 calories less,” says Jensen. “And that seems to be heritable.” But that doesn’t mean you’re locked into your metabolic rate for life, says Martina. “You can change your metabolism — for example, by packing more muscle onto your frame.”

In fact, gaining muscle through resistance training is one of the best ways to offset the small decline in metabolism that naturally occurs with age, says Mike. “Typically, from age 30 to about age 80, you lose about 15 percent of your muscle mass,” he says. “You can offset that if you start lifting. The earlier you start, the better off you’re going to be as you get older.”

Myth #8: The right diet — lots of green tea and chili peppers! — will boost your metabolism.

As much as we’d all like to believe the right foods can work a metabolic miracle, the calorie-burning jolt some foods provide isn’t enough to affect your weight, says Jensen. “If I was eating nothing but chili peppers, I might not eat that much — because my mouth would be hot all the time,” he jokes. “But you’re not going to lose weight because of the metabolism effect.”

As Mike explains, metabolism-revving foods really only boost your burn by 4 to 5 percent — and for a very brief time. “You might see a slight increase [in metabolism], but it’s mainly due to a slight elevation in body temperature and sympathetic nervous system activity,” he says.