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Fatty Acid Mobilization, Glucagon, Epinephrine


O.K. Excuse me if I seem a little slow with the nutrition thing. But I need a little clarification and guidance on this topic. I just pulled out my Principles of Biochemistry textbook and flipped through some pages I had highlighted. I am obssed with getting my clients lean naturally.

First, I was reading that fatty acid breakdown and mobilization into the bloodstream is stimulated by the hormones glucagon (pancreas) and epinepherine (the medulla of the adrenal glands).

My question is to stimulate glucagon I need to make sure my clients eat every 3-4 hours, eat a meal with protein and a low glycemic carbohydrate, add to the meal or supplement with flaxseeds to increase EFA and Omega-3 intake, and drink water mixed with a little of lemon or pure cranberry juice to keep the liver clean and fuctioning properly?

For epinephrine stimulation I will need to wake up my sympathetic nervous system with a mild stimulant like ephedra, guarana, or caffiene either just before I workout or once a day preferably between morning and mid-afternoon? Does this sound like I am on the right page with you guys or did I totaly screw this all up? Help me out, please. Thanx


I'm only responding to this because I believe it will help me learn more. Hopefully Thibs will come in and correct any incorrections that I have made (like he did last time I tried to help answer a question, which is good).

Glucagon is an antagonistic hormone to Insulin. Insulin is released when blood sugar levels rise (via consumption of carbohydrates). If Insulin levels are elevated, then Glucagon levels will drop. Eating carbs, even low glycemic, will still cause an insulin release and therefore hinder glucagon.

In regards to meal frequency, eating every 3-4 hours isn't necessary. In fact, I believe glucagon would be released preferentially when blood levels of glucose and amino acids (some amino acids cause an insulin response too), which would be done with a lower meal frequency.

I'm not too fond of epinephrine, but I believe that a cup of coffee here or there isn't enough to stimulate great amounts of it. Then again, epinephrine is one of those hormones that you really want to be careful with. Too many stimulants can cause adrenal burnout. I would just leave it alone.

In the end, I think focusing on glucagon or adrenaline is minute at best. People can lose fat on a high carb diet, as well as a low carb diet, high frequency eating, low frequency eating etc. Everybody's physiology is different. Rather than focusing on the manipulation of these hormones, I would try various approaches to see what works best for your clients.


I also forgot to say, that exercise causes a release of adrenaline and other catecholamines. So, if your clients are workout out often AND vigorously, then they'll be getting a frequent release of adrenaline.

But again, I think its minutiae anyways.


I don't think it's that simple. I'm not saying that a caffiene/ephedrine stack isn't effective - it is for some people, every bit helps, but don't forget there are plenty of reactions in between glucagon/epinephrine and free fatty acid release that can be up or down regulated by lots of things. And we don't know all of these "things" even are yet.

Perhaps Thibs can shed some light on the subject.


Thanks everyone for the responses. i am not trying to focus so much on individual responses of the hormones as much as I am trying to capitalize on the hormones respomse to getting at FFA and adipose tissue through proper nutrition first. Again, thank you to everyone who has or will respond.


Correct. But you can also add growth hormone and even cortisol as fat mobilizers. In fact cortisol is often referred to as a low-grade adrenalin (epinephrine).

People in the strength training field are kinda scared of cortisol because it can be catabolic (breakdown muscle tissue). But one must understand WHY it breaks down muscle tissue and what are its other roles in the body.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, that alone give it a bad name. But epinephrine and nor-epinephrine are also stress hormones.

Being a stress hormone is not a bad thing! It simply refers to an hormone released under stressful situations with the purpose of making the body capable of overcoming that situation.

Cortisol and epinephrine's main roles are to mobilize energy sources (glucose and free fatty acids) and to prime the nervous system.

Glucose can be produced from the breakdown of muscle (or hepatic) glycogen. But it can also breakdown muscle tissue into amino acids and these amino acids (some of them) can be turned into glucose by the liver.

So really muscle breakdown is NOT the function of cortisol... we don't have an hormone which has the responsability of decreasing muscle mass. Rather muscle breakdown is a POSSIBLE end result of the main function of cortisol, which is to free up energy substrates.

Cortisol is thus not a bad thing! In fact we need it for optimal exercise performance and to have energy in the morning.

Chronically elevated cortisol is a problem though. Cortisol should be low at night. If its not proper sleep and recovery are compromised.

The best way to spike glucagon is to fast! When you are not eating for a relatively long period of time glucagon is released. The role of glucagon is to free-up energy substrates when the body needs them. At rest (when not working out) glucagon is released mostly when blood sugar goes down too low (hypoglycemia) . Under that circumstance glucagon is spiked, breakdown muscle or liver glycogen into glucose to bring blood glucose levels to normal.

Note that if glycogen stores are too low (e.g. on a super low carbs diet) glucagon, like cortisol, can breakdown muscle tissue into aminos to produce glucose and return blood glucose levels to normal.

Eating carbs frequently actually prevents glucagon release, even if they are low-glycemic carbs. In fact low glycemic carbs are probably even better to prevent glucagon production because they help maintain a normal blood glucose level for a longer period of time because glucose enters the bloodstream more gradually, not causing an insulin spike...

But the question is, do we really want high levels of glucagon throughout the day? The answer is: probably not if your goal is to have muscle on ya!

Glucagon is a mobilizing hormone thus it is also anti-anabolic. Anabolism requires storing nutrients, not mobilizing them. When glucagon is elevated, anabolism is all but stopped dead in its track. Glucagon is the antagonist (opposite) hormone to insulin. Insulin is often (rightfully or not) as the body's most anabolic hormone... what does that tell us about glucagon?!

I don't like stimulants. They do indeed artificially increase epinephrine stimulation; but this is really not a good thing.

Your adrenal glands can only produce so much epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. When you constantly force them to produce more and more epinephrine you risk desensitizing them (they wont be able to produce epinephrine by themselves, and at some point they wont even produce it when stimulated by ephedra and the likes). When that happens your client will have an extra hard time mobilizing fat. So a short term "solution" actually lead to long term problems.

In fact you could even cause adrenal burnout. This means that your adrenal glands can't even produce epinephrine.

The body then have to compensate by producing more cortisol, which means that cortisol stays chronically elevated; thus you don't recover, you lose muscle... because you lose muscle your metabolic rate goes down and it becomes all but impossible to lose fat.


Excellent answer! I wish I had read it before posting mine... would have saved me some time!



Getting lean is simple... but compliance is hard!

  • Train hard and relatively frequently (train as much as possible without exceeding your capacity to recover.
  • Eat no carbs except green veggies most of the day (the exception being the period before and during your workout)
  • Ingest enough carbs pre-workout to fuel your workout (a grueling session will use up anywhere from 100 to 200g of carbs)


You are the man! Thanks brotha. Thanks again to everyone.


Glad I could help :slight_smile:

And like I said, it helps me learn. I actually learn best when I try to explain concepts to people. It kinda drives it into your brain, so you remember it and understand it.

However, I understand that my knowledge is FAR from being expert, so it helps to know that even if I did make a mistake, someone more knowledgeable than me can correct me (which furthers the learning process).


Very good read Coach.

So going off of this, and what you have said in the other threads, eating low carb all day can accomplish these things, correct?:

-Prevent insulin spikes when you don't need them.
-Elevate glucagon levels due to lack of blood sugar throughout the day, but you won't be "starving" or "fasting" since you will have energy from meals throughout the day and won't lose muscle in the process. In other words, you find a happy medium between fasting and being in an anabolic state.
-Increase insulin sensitivity.

Also, does eating like that leave you partially fat-adapted for fuel, since you are getting a significant portion of calories from fat (which could would tie back into fat loss)?



The key is the period immediately before, during and after the workout. This is where the anabolic response takes place. Once you get that right, adjust the rest of the day according to your goal. And maximizing fat loss is best accomplished by eating low carbs except for the workout period.


Let's say that someone have consumed ephedra for about 8 weeks (1 on and 1 out). Obviusly his adrenal glands are kind of exhausted.

Preaphs he got some kind of "ephineprine resistance", so, is there a way to revert that, and get the body response to ephineprine back?

Also, without going too far from the topic, i would like to know how to get rid of caffeine resistance, I used to have really concentrated cups of coffee (to stay awake when i had to study, but now even if a drink a 400mg caffeine cup, i can still fall asleep); the obvius answer would be stay away from coffee. But just to be sure if that's the right answer to this problem.



"The best way to spike glucagon is to fast! When you are not eating for a relatively long period of time glucagon is released. The role of glucagon is to free-up energy substrates when the body needs them. At rest (when not working out) glucagon is released mostly when blood sugar goes down too low (hypoglycemia) . Under that circumstance glucagon is spiked, breakdown muscle or liver glycogen into glucose to bring blood glucose levels to normal."

So when your blood sugar drops, your body releases glucagon. Is this why using leucine to spike insulin or insulin can bring people back into a ketogenic state quicker?


Hey Coach

I was wondering why you now recommend carbs with pre-workout meals, but in your carb cycling codex you have no pre workout carbs for those who train at 5-6pm?

Does this still stand? Or have you changed your position on pre workout carbs?

quick off topic question, I plan on starting your OVT program to gain some LBM soon. Should i just wait for i bodybuilder? OR maybe even do 8 full weeks of OVT and then follow with I Bodybuilder after a 2-3 weeks resting phase?



The CCC is several years old. Training is my passion and I always research thing to improve myself. Read my protocole thread and you'll better understand the need for the PROPER carbs pre-workout and why they are not useful post-workout.