What is AMPK?
AMPK is a functional enzyme made of three proteins essential for maintaining energy balance especially when at a caloric deficit. When this pathway is activated it has benefits throughout your bodies systems including:
- Improved insulin sensitivity (though cholesterol synthesis)
- Targeted fat burning (via the hepatic fatty acid oxidation and triglyceride synthesis and lipogenisis.)
- Stimulates ketogenesis (bodies natural process of converting stored fat into energy)
- Healthy aging due to AMPK enzyme’s involvement in multiple known longevity pathways.
AMPK effects your body right down to the cellular level, in response to the ever changing energy charge in your body. AMPK normalizes this energy charge to bring back and maintain balance in the body on a cellular level (homeostasis). It does this by regulating activity of nutrients and hormones independently of each cell’s individual energy charge.
Functional Structure of AMPK
AMPK is made of three protiens (sub-units) α, β, and γ. Each one plays a role in the activation and function of AMPK
The γ sub-unit includes 4 distinct cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) domains. This gives AMPK the ability to acurately detect changes in the AMP:ATP ratio. These four CBS domains create two points where the AMP can bind. When an AMP is bound to one of these cellular locations this opens up the pathway for the next corresponding ATP point.
AMPK sub-units genetically encoded with the following markers.
- γ – PRKAG1, PRKAG2, PRKAG3
- β – PRKAB1, PRKAB2
- α – PRKAA1, PRKAA2
AMPK Signaling Pathway
The AMPK pathway acts as a master regulator of homeostasis on a cellular level. Activated in response to stimuli (fasting, exercise, and/or nutraceutical supplements) that modulate ATP supply. Activating AMPK positively regulates the signaling pathways and replenish your cellular ATP supplies.
Benefits of AMPK
AMPK blocks the production of cholesterol and triglycerides. Instead promoting cellular thermogenesis and burning fat.
AMPK senses the level of ATP being produced in the body. This results in increased hypothalamic energy expenditure, as well as improved appetite control.
In order to conserve energy at a caloric deficit. AMPK inhibits the production of proteins instead converting stored fat into usable ketones.
AMPK activators have been shown support several longevity pathways. Promoting healthy aging by enhancing autophagy and decreasing protein production.
AMPK activation is incredibly effective at protecting against cardiovascular diseases. By improving blood flow and reducing bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
AMPK inhibits NFκB, a primary activator of chronic inflammation, and thereby decreases inflammation in the body over time.
“If there is one small thing you could do to live a longer healthier life. I believe that is to activate AMPK regularly either by intermitent fasting or by using nutraceutical supplements.”
Natural Ways To Activate AMPK
When you exercise, you expend energy in the form of ATP. This results in lack of energy, which then stimulates AMPK. High-intensity workouts like high intensity interval training and exercises that involve contraction of large muscle groups (compound exercises like Olympic or power lifting) effectively activate AMPK. AMPK also improves muscle performance over time which in turn makes it easier to activate AMPK via exercise.
Restricting calorie intake has been known to have several beneficial effects against cancer, aging, and diabetes. These effects are mostly facilitated by AMPK. The two methods of activating AMPK through calorie restriction is either eating at a caloric deficit (if the goal is also to lose weight) and/or intermittent fasting, the practice of reducing the time you consume calories to a small window of no more than 8 hours per day.
Cold exposure activates AMPK in the hypothalamus. You can achieve this effect by taking a 5 minute cold shower or 2 minute ice plunge first thing in the morning. It’s a bit extreme for me but this practice is getting more and more popular today and is an effective and simple AMPK activator.
Natural Supplements That Can Activate AMPK
- A-Lipoic Acid
- Apple Cider Vinegar / Pomegranate vinegar / Acetic acid
- Arctigenin (Arctium lappa)
- Bitter Melon (Cucurbitane)
- Danshen / Salvia Miltiorrhiza / TanshioneIIA
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Ginsenoside RB1
- Red Rice Yeast
- Vitamin E / gamma tocotrienols + Turkey tail / PSP