The cause of obesity is multifactorial and still poorly understood. It is not a simple as an excess of calories. It would be so easy if it was.
Calories in, Calories out-the backbone of the diet industry does not work.
Obesity is a disease of deranged metabolic hormones. That’s a bit scary.
Let’s call it an imbalance of hormones. The king hormone in this imbalance is Insulin.
So, what is insulin?
Insulin is a super important hormone produced by the pancreas. It circulates throughout the body in our bloodstream. Inulin is release when we eat carbohydrates and to a lesser extent protein.
Insulin has many jobs
1/ It tries to keep our blood sugar levels stable-not too high, not to low-just right Goldilocks!
2/ It moves the carbohydrate (glucose) from the blood into our cells. Our cells use glucose for energy.
3/ Insulin inhibits lipolysis. Lipolysis means fat break down. When we are discussing weight loss we mean fat loss. We want to use fat for fuel but high insulin stops this process.
The problem with our western diet and is that we eat too many carbohydrates. We eat too many and we eat too often. We have been told to.
"Eat 6 small meals a day".
"Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and complex carbohydrates."
We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus morning tea and afternoon tea and often a snack on the couch after dinner watching TV.
This means our cells have a steady stream of glucose. The glucose fills the cells and before they have even had a chance to empty, we are eating again. Over many years, this results in insulin levels rising to regulate blood glucose. The insulin is rising, it is trying to keep our blood sugar stable by stuffing the cells with glucose. The overflow is being converted into fat and stored in our fat cells under our skin, in our abdomen and in our organs. This is the cause of fatty liver. Over time, insulin gets higher and higher.
An analogy I like to use is that your body is like a house with a fireplace. It needs fuel to warm the house. You have some kindling (carbohydrate) which you make a fire with. It burns quickly but doesn’t last long, so you keep putting more kindling on. What you need to do is get the logs (fat) out of the woodshed (fat stores). But, your woodshed has a padlock (Insulin) on it so you can’t access the logs inside your shed. Your house needs warmth so your only option is to go back inside and keep using the kindling.
💙 The kindling is the carbohydrate,
💙 The logs are your fat
💙 The woodshed is your stored fat and
💙 The padlock is insulin.
Some people who have very high insulin, have many locks on their woodshed. They cannot get their stored fuel. They are tired and hungry!
Back to the fireplace
As the fire goes down you get hungry and eat more fuel. You grab something quick and "healthy" like bread, fruit, pasta or low-fat yoghurt. Insulin rises and more padlocks are added to your shed door.
Unfortunately, the low-fat message has done nothing for our long term health. Our society is riddled with obesity and chronic disease. Food companies have jumped on the low-fat message and replaced the fat with sugar. Sugar, a highly-processed and addictive substance is making us sick.
Believe me, this has been a huge paradigm shift for me. I grew up in the ’80s with the low-fat message. I can still sing the jingle for the skinny milk ad and thought anything that was low fat was healthy. I thought fat clogged our arteries. This is not true.
There is a solution to hunger, overweight and obesity.
The solution is to lower your carbohydrate intake. Stop putting kindling on the fire. You need to fuel your body with fat. Fat does not cause an insulin rise.
Eating fat keeps you full.
Fat does not cause insulin to rise.
At the start of your low carb journey, you will need to eat a lot of healthy fats (ie buy some logs). It takes time for insulin to come down. Then you can lower your fat intake.
As your insulin comes down, the padlocks open.
your woodshed opens and you will burn your own logs.
Your hunger will reduce.
Your metabolic hormones will return to normal.
Health is restored.
Your future is bright.
Dr Lucy Burns and Dr Mary Barson