Debunking the “eat less / move more” weight loss program.
In Why We Get Fat (part 1) I explained the radical change in mainstream nutrition advice starting late 1970’s: we were told to cut the fat out, eat fat-free, low-fat… you know “eat healthy.” The food industry complied. We got an infinite number of new “Heart Healthy”, Low-Fat, No-Fat, “diet” and more high carbohydrate convenience products than we could possibly need—always in a hurry these were supposed to be healthier for us, right?
Carbohydrates were placed on the bottom of the food pyramid; the fundamental base of good nutrition. Grains were king and no one explained the connection to sugar—or the nutritional differences between processed and sprouted grains or even thought about it much.
You’ve probably seen people who could live off grain-based carbs and yet seem quite slim—but maybe not you. You’re body is just not efficient or somehow responds differently—yes we are all bioindividual—but inside they are not healthy. It is just a matter of time and it has to do with hormones.
This post explains why the common mistake of only focusing on calories can make you fat; how low calorie diets are a recipe for damaged metabolism and complete frustration. But more importantly, I’ll show you how the secret to sustainable weight loss is not to eat less, but to reduce inflammation.
Part 1 debunked the “eat less / move more” weight control plan. Part 2 gives you answers.
Weight gain is a symptom of inflammation in your body.
Other symptoms of inflammation include heart disease, heart attacks, fibromyalgia, chronic pain anywhere, slow healing, no healing, Alzheimers, asthma, autoimmune, autism spectrum disorders and too many to mention.
And remember please: a symptom is simply a sign—it tells you nothing about the cause of disease. The “-itis” and “-osis” at the end of your medical diagnosis is just a term meaning inflamed. Inflammation is your body’s way of saying “pay attention!” (without the “please”).
Our bodies become inflamed for a variety of reasons beyond injury or infection: environmental pollutants, eating an unhealthy diet, even eating foods that are truly healthy except your body has a sensitivity to it. Regardless of the underlying cause, the body responds the same way: inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense system involve a complex cascade of hormones, white blood cells and more—it is normally your body’s way of protecting you.
Chronic inflammation is not normal—and it leads to weight gain.
Hormones are chemicals that send messages to other parts of the body in order to coordinate the body’s response to a shifting environment. The hormonal signals don’t turn off and the body never moves into the healing phase.
Causes of chronic inflammation are all around you. The sugar you eat, high doses of the wrong oils and fats in your diet, hidden food allergens, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and hidden infections all trigger a raging, unseen inflammation deep in your cells and tissues. You may think you have the flu when you actually have a dairy sensitivity, or gluten intolerance, or even perfume allergy.
And this inflammation leads to every one of the major chronic diseases of aging — heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more. It’s also by far the major contributor to obesity. Being fat is being inflamed — period!
Back to weight control.
What is happening is the complex interplay of key hormones have gone way out of balance. Because adipose at makes inflammatory hormones and others, this soon becomes a catch-22.
Let’s look at the shifting food environment and hormones starting with insulin: Blood sugar levels are carefully controlled—by insulin.
Insulin does two main things:
- permits the movement of fatty acids into cells where they are used for energy or stored (fat accumulation).
- is part of brain’s complex signaling of satiety, fullness, not hungry… When we eat and our blood sugar rises, a complex response in the brain tells us we’ve had enough, we’re satisfied.
According to the insulin and obesity theory, those people whose bodies are able to control their blood sugar—in other words, the pancreas makes the right amount of insulin to regulate high blood sugar, move the circulating glucose into cells, without creating a situation of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)—those people can eat blood-sugar-spiking carbs and not gain weight.
But over time and continued elevated blood sugar followed by insulin levels, this regulation goes off. While we don’t notice the symptoms early on, when we elevate our blood sugar above what the body can tolerate, the pancreas silently obeys by making more insulin to bring it back down. Yes, this stresses and fatigues the pancreas. It also causes blood sugar to swing very low—hypoglycemic episodes and the survival brain response called “alert! blood sugar is low = eat now! cravings” is usually the first clue that all is not well.
Low blood sugar hypoglycemia is a potent trigger for food intake and induces major hormonal alterations.
“I need a mid-morning snack” “I just can’t make it through the day without something” It can start subtle, after a while it is most definitely not subtle. As the situation progresses, so do the horrendous mood swings and cravings caused by insulin imbalance and dysregulation of blood sugar.
Hypoglycemia activates the brain’s “counter-regulatory response”, which is a last-ditch effort by the brain to avoid hypoglycemic coma and death. It triggers epinephrine and glucagon release, and ravenous hunger in a desperate effort to bring up circulating glucose. These hormonal signals lead to fat gain.
This coordinated response has nothing to do with the normal response in a healthy person whose blood sugar is balanced.
As an aside, high blood sugar and pancreatic overload appears to also be linked with insulinomas—a form of pancreatic cancer (think Steve Jobs) which constantly secrete and create hypoglycemic episodes.
Putting this together for weight control:
- Consume a low-allergy or low inflammatory diet. Even just 1 week will help you eliminate the excess swelling and fluid that accumulates in your tissues from food-induced chronic inflammation.
- Eliminate all sources of added sugars for at least three weeks, even the healthy ones like raw honey and maple syrup . You want your body to begin burning the fat it has stored. This metabolic shift happens on a gradient taking about 21 days.
- Greatly increase the healthy fats. Anti-inflammatory health fats will help with cravings–a lot!! and also help with blood sugar control. Add them to every meal. Too many seed and grain oils are inflammatory. Sources include grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish, flax and chia seeds, leafy greens, seaweed—I’m sorry, most vegans I’ve helped were relying on grains, seeds and seed oils which are too high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.
- Greatly reduce grain-based carbohydrates and usually dairy—which are both high inflammatory foods. Bring low-inflammatory, low-carb snacks with you to get through the day until your body can do it on its own.
I’m here to help guide you. Keep in touch on this blog or if I can help you in a more personal way please schedule a FREE health consultation.
To your health!
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