The science of obesity

We get fat because we eat too much and don’t move enough, right? Calories in, calories out?

Actually, no. From a physiological standpoint that’s actually backwards.

Insulin is a hormone that reacts to the amount of glucose in the blood:

  • When glucose is low, insulin receptors tell the body to release fat and burn it for fuel.
  • When glucose is high, insulin receptors tell the body to stop releasing fat and, instead, to store it.

When a person keeps their blood sugar elevated too often, the insulin receptor for fat becomes desensitized. It stops working. It stays switched into the “store fat” mode, even when blood sugar is normal.

Because this receptor is malfunctioning, we get fat. Added fat does several things to the body, but two particularly pertinent things are that it zaps energy (so you move less) and it make you more hungry (so you eat more).

Can the receptor be “fixed”? Can it become sensitive again (without medication)? In some cases, the answer is definitely yes. What you eat is what caused the problem, and it can be the solution.

  • Carbohydrate raises blood glucose.
  • Protein has substances that both raise AND lower blood glucose, so the overall effect is null.
  • Fat lowers blood glucose.

Insulin levels are, by and large, determined by the amount of carbohydrate we eat. Factors such as the amount of carbohydrate we eat, the amount of fiber, and the amount of sugar affect the amount of insulin we secrete. The worst foods: liquid carbs (beer, soda, and fruit juice), flour and grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and sugars.

Varying the percentages and the timing of the macronutrients can enable you to lower your blood sugar and keep it low, enabling your body to return to its natural fat-burning state.

Here’s an interesting study that came through my blog reader a day or two ago:

http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/2011/12/high-saturated-fat-diets-decrease-heart.html

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2 Responses to The science of obesity

  1. Maggie says:

    That is a really interesting article. I had no clue. Eek, and I love my grains and starches! LOL. I missed two cardios (walking dogs and elliptical) and strength training today. Down with flu. Hate when I can’t do my workouts. Watch, in time you’re gonna love your workout. When you can’t do them, you’ll be very annoyed heh.

    I’m enjoying your food blogging. There is where my problem is. My diet is TEH TERRIBEL! It really is. I eat twice a day. And not good foods! Now you got me going on eating better. I planned my menu for this week. I’m not taking on your diet, ’cause I”m not that brave LOL. But I am making an effort to make sure we have our veggies, side dish and meat.

    Thanks for being an inspiration, Melissa!

    • Melissa says:

      Aw… {{{ Hug }}} Thanks for the compliments and get over that crummy flu!

      For most people, baby steps work. For me, not so much. I’m on or I’m off. I don’t really have a moderate, middle ground setting — about anything. So I have to jump in with both feet. The challenge *is* going well, and I’m really happy about that. What will be the real challenge will be maintaining it over a full year. I’m capricious, so I tend to bounce from passion to passion, sticking with no single thing for a long time. This challenge is long-term specifically to force that change.

      I think planning your diet is a big step. It’s easier to eat when you know what you’re going to do. We’ve planned a rotating menu, so going into the weekend, we know exactly what we’re going to have to buy at the grocery. Of course, it also helps that someone else does the cooking for me!!

      If you decide you want to make changes, you can do it. If you can write a book, you can do ANYTHING.

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