Glucagon is a hormone you probably haven’t heard a lot about, but it plays a major role in breaking down fat and allowing your body to have the right energy levels. Glucagon counterbalances insulin, and is also produced in the pancreas, along with insulin. While insulin has the job of helping nutrients get into cells, the job of glucagon is to release the stored nutrients to be used for energy as needed.
Glucagon promotes the release of stored glucose from the liver and the release of free fatty acids from your fat store. 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 sugar or releasing glucagon in response to protein foods. However, neither is released when nonstarchy 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. 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