Weight Loss for Dummies

Fitness | | July 21, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Photo by Gamma Ray Productions.

Manage your insulin, manage your fat. That’s my article. I hope you enjoyed it, thank you for reading! What? You want more? I’m a big fan of the K.I.S.S principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) but Okay, I’ll elaborate a little.

While being overweight or obese can have several main contributing factors, studies as well as a sound understanding of modern physiology show that metabolic dysfunction, not character weakness, is the main cause of an individual’s inability to lose weight.

Maybe you’ve been told to just eat less and exercise more. Well, for any of you who’ve struggled with weight, let me ask you this, how’d that work out for ya? The surprising answer to this question is very often, “not very well.” In fact, the frequency of that answer is one of the anecdotal pieces of evidence that debunks the ‘calories in vs. calories out’ theory. And I’d never, with the patients I meet, suggest that there was a lack of willpower.

Instead I point to metabolic and endocrine dysfunction, which is at the root of most any challenging situation involving being overweight or obese. “Wait,” you say, “maybe it’s genetic!” Valid statement. But how do you explain the obesity rate, as a percentage of the population, tripling within the last 40 years? Did the genes decide to have a coming out party?

One needs only to look briefly into the science of epigenetics to abandon the old dogma of the predestined fate of genes theory and adopt the fact that our environment and lifestyle choices affect how or if those genes express themselves. So if it’s not willpower and it’s not genes, what is the key to losing, maintaining and managing weight?

Insulin production is fueled by carbohydrate consumption, which controls how fat your fat cells are. The body will go into a fat storage mode when sugar (from dietary metabolized carbohydrates) is available as fuel.

Here are some fat physiology facts that you should know:

  • The primary regulator of excess fat is a compound called glycerol-3-phosphate. It’s a by-product of metabolized glucose, which is increased when carbohydrates are consumed.
  • Inside a fat cell you can have triglycerides as well as fatty acids. Triglycerides are basically three of those fatty acids (hence the prefix ‘tri’) held together by the glycerol-3 phosphate molecule. With me so far?
  • Of those two, the fatty acids are smaller and move in and out of the cell and into the blood for use as fuel, so that other cells, organs and tissues can function.

Therefore, since glycerol-3-phosphate is a by-product of dietary carbohydrates, the more carbs that are consumed, the more glycerol-3 phosphate is made available. As a result, more fat in the form of triglycerides are produced, which make fat cells fatter!

So, how do you stop this? If you decrease the amounts of carbs that you consume, you will cause less insulin to circulate and blood sugar levels will be lowered. This will reduce the amount of glucose (and glycerol-3-phosphate) that enters the fat cells, which will eventually make them fatter.

So again, by consuming less carbs, there will eventually be less glucose in the fat cells, and therefore less glycerol-3-phosphate. So triglycerides are not as easily accumulated and stored (which leads to fat fat cells).

Triglycerides that are available will be more readily broken down into fatty acids, which the body can use (read: burn) for energy! Did you know that people who are on low-carb diets can lose weight even though they may consume far more calories than someone on a low-fat diet? Am I saying that a low-carb diet is more effective than a low-fat diet in losing weight? Yes, and so is the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a two-year study of three diets; Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, and a Low-Fat Diet, the people on the low-carb diet lost the most weight. But what surprised many was that blood markers like HDL, triglycerides, liver enzymes and C-reactive protein improved in the low-carb group- all for the better.

What’s more, LDL levels were also comparably improved in the low-carb diet, even though amounts of total calories, protein, and fat were not limited. Isn’t that the holy grail of weight loss, not to deprive yourself of healthy foods and still lose and manage your weight?

Would you rather spend your time counting calories or eating reasonable amounts of fresh, healthy, nutrient dense foods like grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and wild fish and game? Or healthy fats like avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive and coconut oil, fresh organic, in-season, non-starchy vegetables and low-glycemic load, nutrient packed fruits, like blueberries?

What you won’t be shown in the above referenced study is that invariably, the group that was put on the calorie restricted, low-fat diet will, in most every circumstance, put the weight back on once they ‘fall-off’ of the caloric restriction. And they will, invariably, in most every circumstance, put it on much faster than they took it off.

And now you know the secret to effective weight loss: manage your insulin.


Dr Ron Spallone.

Dr. Ron Spallone, D.C. practices complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), in Lakewood, Colorado. He is the CIO for Core Health Innovations and writes a natural health blog.

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