Burn More Calories With Krill Oil
By Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, PhD, RD
Increased body fat and a sluggish metabolism may not be entirely your fault.
Sometimes, no matter how well you eat and how much you exercise, your body fat levels barely change; especially if you have been overweight for awhile. Women experience this more than men due to other hormonal and physical differences.
Now, it’s true that weight loss is hard, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth so much to people to lose those stubborn pounds.
Body Weight Frustration Can Be Solved!
But not everyone is willing or able to undergo surgery, or take medications and eat like a mouse to lose weight. And they don’t have to.
Luckily, scientists are discovering new ways to change our cellular makeup with simple, but powerful, dietary strategies so that it’s easier for people to eat less, burn more calories, and shed unwanted fat.
All this may sound too good to be true, but it’s actually real. You can add or subtract specific foods and nutrients from your diet, and make a drastic difference in your metabolism, without having to starve yourself to do it.
However, before I share some of this exciting research with you, I must first make this disclaimer:
There is NO magic bullet in existence for weight loss!
Losing fat is a multi-factorial effort. It takes consistent and good eating habits, regular and effective exercise, and the right mindset to make it happen. Without these all in place, no new scientific discovery will make any difference in your weight or health.
Now, on to the science:
Researchers have recently discovered that certain systems in our body are responsible for appetite and metabolism. One of these systems is called the endocannabinoid system (called ECS).
Some people may recognize the word cannabinoid and think it’s related to marijuana. And, in fact, they are right, which I’ll explain more below.
The ECS is a complex signaling system located in the brain and many other tissues, and is comprised of special receptors (CB1 and CB2), proteins and ligands (such as AEA and 2-AG), that play an important role in physical and emotional responses to stress with appetite and energy regulation.
This system is thought to affect a wide variety of physiologic processes including nociception (pain sense), motor control, memory and learning, food intake, and energy balance.
Several studies have demonstrated that in obese or diabetic rodents and humans, activity of the ECS is elevated in adipose tissue, liver, and pancreas, also in the brain, particularly the hypothalamus. These people also have increased levels of the ECS ligands, anandamide (AEA) and 2- arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
Activation of the ECS increases food intake, decreases energy expenditure, and disrupts glucose and lipid homeostasis by inducing insulin resistance - which is not good for health or body composition at all.
On the flip side, blockage of the ECS receptors and ligands in the lab through pharmacological means or genetic knockout of ECS receptors in mice, decreases food intake and body weight, and markedly improves insulin sensitivity, glucose, and lipid homeostasis in obesity.
With respect to marijuana, the chemicals (primarily THC) in this plant are shown to act directly on ECS receptors in the brain and greatly increase food-seeking behavior, while decreasing energy expenditure (munchies anyone?).
Marijuana Munchies Are Rooted In Our Brains
The EC System was actually named when scientists discovered the receptor in the brain (and then other organs) that were responsible for the actions of cannabis (aka, marijuana). The endocannabinoid system was essential to life and relates messages that affect how we relax, eat, sleep, feel pain, forget, and protect. But most interesting right now is its role in body weight regulation and hunger.
As such, the EC System is being investigated in great detail so scientists can find ways to decrease its activity and help people with greater appetites and lower energy output to lose weight and be healthier.
Krill Oil and the Endocannabinoid System
Scientists are now looking for ways to restore normal tone and activity to the ECS in obese and diabetic people that have abnormalities with this system.
Some pharmacological antagonists have been tried without success, as they have been shown to have psychiatric side effects, such as increased incidence of depression and anxiety.
However, recently, triumph with supplemental krill oil has been found.
Krill Oil is Better Than Pharmaceutical Drugs
In obese rats, krill oil, more so than fish oil, was able to down-regulate the ECS in different tissues, helping rats eat less and lose body fat.
Even though both oils caused an increase in blood levels of EPA and DHA (the omega-3 fatty acids in marine oils), krill oil was more effective at inhibiting the ECS and caused greater decreases in fatty liver and fatty heart.
Recently, the beneficial effects in humans of krill oil supplementation were shown, as well.
Sixty-three normal weight, overweight, and obese men and women were given either 2 grams of krill oil, 2 grams of fish oil, or 2 grams of olive oil for 4 weeks.
At the beginning of the study, it was found that the obese men and women, but not the overweight, had increased levels of AEA, while both overweight and obese people had higher levels of 2-AG (than normal weight people). This supports other findings that show that high 2-AG levels are associated with high body fat levels rather than just high BMI.
After 4 weeks, the krill oil was able to significantly decrease levels of 2-AG in the obese and overweight subjects, while the fish oil and olive oil did not do anything. Both the fish oil and krill oil had a positive and similar effect on blood EPA and DHA levels, but the krill oil was better at reducing endocannabinoid levels.
Krill oil is more potent in this regard because of the more efficient utilization of krill oil fatty acids into cellular tissues due to its unique molecular phospholipid structure. Compare this to fish oil, which has a triglyceride structure.
A Phospholipid Has Only Two Fatty Acid "Tails" While A Triglyceride Has Three
Since this study was so short (4 weeks), there were no significant overall changes in the participants' body fat levels or cardiovascular disease risk. However, longer studies will probably show benefits similar to animal studies conducted for a greater length of time.
Overall, krill oil has the ability to help people struggling with high body fat levels, enhanced appetite, and sluggish metabolisms better than fish oil and other common cooking oils. A dose of just 2 grams of day can have a great effect on the energy regulation system in the body, as long as the length of time consumed is more than just 4 weeks.
Central endocannabinoid signaling regulates hepatic glucose production and systemic lipolysis.
O'Hare JD, Zielinski E, Cheng B, Scherer T, Buettner C. Diabetes. 2011 Apr;60(4):1055-62.
Endocannabinoids may mediate the ability of (n-3) fatty acids to reduce ectopic fat and inflammatory mediators in obese Zucker rats. Batetta B, Griinari M, Carta G, Murru E, Ligresti A, Cordeddu L, Giordano E, Sanna F, Bisogno T, Uda S, Collu M, Bruheim I, Di Marzo V, Banni S: J Nutr 2009, 139:1495-1501.
Krill oil significantly decreases 2-arachidonoylglycerol plasma levels in obese subjects.
Banni S, Carta G, Murru E, Cordeddu L, Giordano E, Sirigu AR, Berge K, Vik H, Maki KC, Di Marzo V, Griinari M. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Jan 30;8(1):7.