How to Increase GLP-1 Naturally for Weight Loss

Let’s talk about how to increase GLP-1 naturally….

Wild to think – a year ago most of us had never heard of GLP-1. Now you have to be living under a rock not to know about this class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists that includes Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro.

These medications work by mimicking the effects of GLP-1 – a hormone in the gut – to slow down gastric motility (a.k.a. the speed at which food travels through the GI tract). You can read more about the what and the how here in this post.

As a result, the person taking the medication, feels full longer and ends up eating less.

That’s an over simplification, and there’s much still to be learned about exactly what makes these drugs so effective for not only weight loss but also addiction, inflammation, among other things.

Even still, there are some very real lessons we can takeaway from seeing these drugs in action that can give us some insight into what diet and lifestyle factors may be able to give us the same effect.

The main nugget I want to focus on with this post is this…

The clear connection between gut motility, glycemic control, and weight loss.

And the first domino in this cascade is increasing GLP-1.

So it begs the question…

How can you increase GLP-1 naturally? 

Turns out how much GLP-1 we release has a lot to do with what and how we’re eating…

Eating more whole foods, increasing fiber, protein, water-rich fruits and vegetables all increase GLP-1 naturally, slowing motility in the GI tract and leading to greater satiety.

Let’s look more closely at each one….

Increase soluble fiber in the diet

Fiber rich foods increase satiety in general because fiber takes longer to digest promoting more release of GLP-1 from the intestinal cells.

Soluble fiber also nourishes and feeds our gut bacteria (prebiotics!) which further enhances GLP-1 production as a healthy balance of gut bacteria supports healthy levels of GLP-1.

Sources of soluble fiber includes ground flaxseed, chia seed, avocado, raspberries, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, cruciferous vegetables, lentils, beans, etc.

Eat adequate lean protein

The general guideline for how much protein to eat is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. So for a 140 pound person that would be about 50 grams of protein per day. Note though this amount increases with activity level and age.

Protein-rich foods trigger GLP-1 release and other peptides associated with satiety.

Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fat

Note, this does not say “eat more fat” but of the fats that you’re eating, make them healthy and include ample Omega-3 fats, like salmon, dark leafy greens, walnuts, ground flaxseed.

Exclusively use olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and avoid seed oils as best you can like canola, soybean and corn oils as these are extremely high in pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids and will throw your 3:6 ratio out of balance and skew your body toward a state of greater inflammation.

Studies show diets rich in monounsaturated fats (olive, avocado) increased GLP-1 in those with type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3 or fish oil supplements are another way to increase Omega-3 in the diet.

If going this route, ensure you’re getting a high quality supplement from a reputable brand.

I personally like Nordic Naturals for Omega-3 and Jigsaw for cod liver oil.

Both are favorites inside my Fullscript dispensary— where you can get 10% off the highest quality, practitioner-approved supplements.

Couple notes on supplements: I am a health coach, not a physician or medical doctor, and this is not a prescription or medical advice. Always check with your primary care physician before starting a new supplement. Also – I always recommend purchasing supplements either from a reputable online dispensary like Fullscript or in person rather than Amazon, as there’s a risk for counterfeit products and warehouse storage practices are not controlled either. In short, you just don’t know what you’re getting…

Increase water-rich fruits and vegetables

What are water-rich fruits and vegetables? Anything fresh — berries, apples, melons, pretty much any fruit. And vegetables, too — zucchini, onion, squash, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber, peppers…

Eat more mindfully

We focus so much on what to eat, but how we eat is often just as if not even more important.

The more we are present with our food, paying attention to what we’re eating, as we’re eating it, tasting it, savoring it, CHEWING it, avoiding distractions (yep, this part is the hardest) – it all increases GLP-1 naturally.

To think, just eating and not doing anything else, putting the phone down, stepping away from the laptop, and just eating… could it really be that simple?!

Move your body

Some call it exercise, but we don’t have to be all official and fancy with it.

Any movement counts.

When it comes to glucose in the body it’s a use it or store it situation.

So the more you move the more glucose gets used up promoting better glucose control and insulin sensitivity.

Also the more muscle mass you have – particularly in the legs – the more insulin sensitive your cells become which means better glucose control too.

And we’ve established here – glycemic control is another domino on the way to weight loss.

Prioritize quality sleep

Studies show sleep deprivation is associated with hormonal imbalances including GLP-1.

Anyone whose ever had a crappy night of sleep knows it affects your appetite.

When the body’s low on energy from poor sleep, it does it’s best to make up for it in the form of quick energy (eg. sugar). Meaning sugar and crab cravings for you!

Even just one night of poor sleep is enough to increase cortisol the next day which reduces GLP-1 secretion and interferes with appetite regulation and all by itself promotes weight gain as well.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can reduce GLP-1 and increase feelings of hunger.

Fun fact: hunger and thirst send the same signal in the body making it hard to distinguish between the two. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger.

Interesting Supplemental Effects….

Same supplement notes I must remind of here again: I am a health coach, not a physician or medical doctor, and this is not a prescription or medical advice. Always check with your primary care physician before starting a new supplement.

Also – I always recommend purchasing supplements either from a reputable online dispensary like Fullscript (get 10% off through my dispensary) or in person rather than Amazon, as you just don’t know what you’re getting there (counterfeit and no storage standards… no thank you!).

Berberine

Berberine has been called “nature’s Ozempic” and while it doesn’t exactly work the same way, it does also work via the gut and has been shown to increase GLP-1, improve insulin sensitivity, and support weight loss. Studies done in rats show increases in GLP-1.

Probiotics

Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species show potential to increase GLP-1 by enhancing gut function.

I expect we’ll see much more to come here on this front…

Resveratrol

The polyphenol high in grapes, berries and red wine. Research shows it may increase and improve glucose metabolism.

Magnesium

Magnesium is required for appropriate insulin sensitivity and may enhance GLP-1. Read: magnesium insufficiency – which is incredibly common these days – is a predisposing factor for insulin resistance and high blood sugar.

Curcumin

Curcumin can improve blood sugar control by increasing GLP-1 release. One study found that 1500mg/day reduced weight and blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Note: curcumin is contraindicated in those with anemia.

Ginseng

Shown to improve blood sugar control

Psyllium

One of the best sources of soluble fiber and an easy one to supplement. Note, if using be sure to drink lots of water to avoid constipation (eg. too slow motility!)

Yerba mate

Yerba mate seems to reduce body fat in several different ways – including increasing GLP-1. This herb often consumed as a tea has long been known of as effective for fat loss and appetite reduction.

Now, let’s consider the other side of this coin….

What’s Blocking the Release of GLP-1?

The other important consideration is what is getting in the way of producing GLP-1 naturally….

GLP-1 is a hormone. Hormones respond to the environment we’re living in, the conditions we’re asking our bodies to thrive (or survive in) and depending on those conditions they respond and adjust.

Hormones are affected by other hormones. None work in isolation.

High Stress – High Cortisol

If stress is high, especially when we’re eating, increased cortisol release will blunt the release of GLP-1.

It makes sense — why would your body prioritize good digestion and blood sugar control if it thinks it’s in a life or death situation and it may need that glucose in the blood to fuel your escape?

See above, eating more mindfully and getting quality sleep…

High blood sugar

High blood sugar or high glucose states will also block GLP-1 release.

The important question to ask here is why is blood glucose high?

Often I see in my functional health coaching practice, high fasting glucose levels that have nothing to do with diet and everything to do with physiological stressors (eg. gut dysbiosis, simmering infections, toxicity).

This gets back to high stress and high cortisol blocking the release of GLP-1.

Remember hormones are responding to the environment.

If the gut is a mess, hormone signaling will be a mess.

Again, I’m anticipating we’re going to see a lot more coming out of the gut health and probiotics space with regard to supporting GLP-1.

Cleaning up the gut, supporting healthy immune function, and addressing root causes (eg. dysbiosis, infection) that may be in the way is part of improving hormone signaling, including in the gut.

Inflammation

Similarly inflammation is going to contribute to higher cortisol levels and subsequent lower release of GLP-1.

Inflammation, particularly in the gut, can impede enzyme production (eg. enzyme required to digest gluten, dairy, and degrade histamine) and in the same way can impair hormone release as well.

By focusing on reducing inflammation (see all of the above) and emphasizing anti-inflammatory foods you’re affecting hormone signaling and thereby affecting GLP-1 release.

Increasing GLP-1 Naturally: Lessons Learned

Key takeaway: We can get all complex and science-y taking about GLP-1 and GI motility, but it still, always, comes back to these important foundations: what and how we’re eating, what’s contributing to our stress (including physical stressors like gut imbalances and infections), how well are we taking care of ourselves, balancing strength and recovery, prioritizing sleep, and so on.

It’s not flashy or morning show worthy or cutting edge latest hot new thing. And it’s definitely not as easy as taking a shot or a pill…

But it’s a reminder the body is not dumb. It’s perfectly designed. Every action and reaction is logical, evolved, and happening for us all in effort for us to (hopefully) thrive over survive.

The question is how are we supporting it, giving it what it needs, to do the things and give us the reactions so we can have the experience that we WANT?

It truly is all in your control.

And that’s a hard pill to swallow, I know.

Want help taking that control back so you can finally feel at peace with your body, your choices, and your weight?

As a functional medicine practitioner and health coach, I’m your partner on this journey.

Ready to get started? There are two ways we can work together:

1.) Work with me one-on-one — This is me in your back pocket helping you every step of the way from creating a custom plan targeting the unique dynamics of your own body to guiding you through the day-to-day so it happens and sticks and you feel like a new person.

2.) Join No Rules Happy Hour — This is our private community that meets twice a month where you can pick my brain, get the latest health info, and have the support of other like-minded folks who are focusing on their health too. Plus get discounts on supplements, labs, and more.

Not sure what’s the best fit for you? Let’s chat and I can help figure that out – grab some time with me here.

 

Megan Adams Brown

P.S. Want help taking that control back so you can finally feel at peace with your body, your choices, and your weight? As a functional medicine practitioner and health coach, I’m your partner on this journey. Ready to get started? Let’s chat

 

The content in this post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice.

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