So Why Do We Get Fat??!! … A Little Weight Loss 101

I am a science gal.  I love to know the science behind why something works and I love to see the evidence of something working even more.  Science is about a combo of evidence based research, theory, practice and practical, visible, everyday results.  If we just theorize about something and it sounds really good, but it doesn’t actually work then I would be very hard pressed to take that info as fact from a scientific perspective….unfortunately that happens alot in science (ie the THEORY that eating fat makes you fat).

Nutrition is a very young science (2nd in youth to neuroscience…hmmmm…the brain is super complex, maybe the way be take in and process food is too).  There is SOOOO much that we have learned since we as a people first started spewing nutrition theory and fact and sometimes we have to go back and accept that what we once thought was right is actually in fact wrong, because we have learned oh so much more!

There are sooo many weight loss myths out there, much that is wrong and little (in comparison) that is actually right.  We now KNOW for fact (at least now) that eating healthy fat does NOT make you fat.  The low fat hypothesis (b/c that is all it is, there was never any practical evidence that it was true….just essentially one Dr trying to lobby the AHA, mind you it took him practically 8 years to convince them to spread his message….read Good Calories, Bad Calories if you are interested in the story) is now regarded as wrong by the leading endocrinologists and bariatric doctors as well as many up to date nutritionists out there in the world.

Since Americans went “low fat” beginning in the 50’s, we have only gotten fatter and more disease ridden as a nation.  When the low fat craze came into play, we began to eat low fat yet high carb. Hmmmm….

So why do we get fat??

“Well we don’t get fat from eating too much and exercising too little and somehow we can’t get the right balance of that and therefore the excess is going to fat tissue”, says Gary Taubes.  The answer is not as simple as calories in and calories out.  It is about what makes up those calories and how do those nutrients effect our very intricate inner workings, our hormones, our biochemistry.  If it were that simple then there would be a million or rather billionaire out there raking it in on that “right” formula of the calories in, calories out.

Gary poses this question:  “Think about it for a minute…if you were walking down the street and you saw an 8 foot man walking toward you, you might think (with a scientific mind)…”wow!  I wonder what is going on inside them to secrete so much excess growth hormone”.  If you see an obese individual, how about applying that same “out of balance internally” thinking….”wow! I wonder what is going on inside them that is causing them to not be able to burn fat”.  It is the same issue…HORMONES!

Another weight loss myth to consider….we need to increase our metabolism in order to burn lots of calories and then we won’t get fat.  So, ask yourself first…”what is metabolism?”.  If you answered “it is how you burn calories”, you would be wrong.  That is one of the things it does, but not what it is.  Your metabolism is your biochemistry, which is the interplay of your many hormones.  It is your body’s electrical system that switches all else on and off thru a very sensitive set of feedback loops and alot of detailed communication.  It is similar to the engine in a car…if we increased the heat, the car would only get hotter, not run better.  We don’t want to increase metabolism, we want to make it run more efficiently. And how do we do that?  Thru creating proper communication thru our electrical system, our biochemistry, our hormones and thus the rest of our body.

So we come back to HORMONES….So what do we KNOW regulates fat?  The hormone Insulin.  And if it is insulin, then we need to look at the main regulator of insulin, which is the carbohydrates in our diet.

Insulin is your fat producing AND fat storing hormone.  The carbohydrates that we eat cause us to secrete more hormones thru a variety of mechanisms.  When we secrete insulin (in response to eating carbs), the broken down calories (glucose) go first to our muscle cells and is stored as glycogen and a little goes to our brain.  (I don’t mean that you have a little brain, just that we only need a very small amount of glucose to feed our brain!).  The excess (really anymore than 90 grams, b/c that is all we can store at one time) goes into storage in our fat cells.  The problem lies when we secrete too much insulin from too much carbs in our diet…causing us to store fat.  Not only does insulin cause us to store fat, it causes us to lock fat into fat tissue.  So the more fat you accumulate from excess carbs, the harder it becomes to burn fat because it is locked into place.  Now you have a fat producing factory vs a fat burning factory and the viscous cycle will continue until you cut out the excess carbs.  BODY FAT CANNOT BE BURNED IN THE PRESENCE OF INSULIN.

So now what are we going to do?!  Well we need to stop producing so much insulin, which means we need to figure out how to maintain even blood sugar levels so insulin doesn’t have to come in (be secreted) and try to sweep the excess blood sugar away.  And how are we going to do that?  Cut out the excess carbs!  Yes I know the name Dr Atkins may draw up thoughts of a very deranged man and his plan….but in reality, he had it right, the science that is….he just went a little too far to the extreme!

Keep in mind that not only are we concerned with insulin for fat burning and weight loss but more importantly overall inflammation and an increase in blood sugar and subsequent chronic elevation of insulin secretion are 2 of the biggest contributors of systemic inflammation.

It’s really a simple equation:

You get rid of the excess carbs, thus limiting insulin production and you get leaner.

But if you get rid of the excess carbs, what is your body going to use for ‘fuel’??  Don’t forget that there are two other important nutrients out there….proteins and fats.  And what do you know….fats are the only nutrient that do NOT create a surge of insulin.  (Proteins no where near as much as carbs either).  Fat loves to be used for fuel and can be very efficient if you allow it to be.  So you replace carbs with healthy fats….like avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, real whole eggs, real butter, clean meats, etc. Fats make you feel satisfied and do not lead to the cravings that carbs do. Fat is your friend.  Healthy fats do NOT make you fat.

So ideally you are aiming for a lower carb, higher fat intake of nutrients.  (keep in mind that fat adds up alot quicker as there are 4 calories for every gram of carbs and 9 calories for every gram of fat….so you are not really eating a ton of fat)  This is the way of eating that the top endocrinologists, the top bariatric and the top medical Dr’s are suggesting and using in their practices all over the world.  This all comes with a history of over 150 years of working! Science in practice!

We will diving even deeper into all of this soon!!


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