Tuesday, June 12

Why Am I Still Fat?

Why am I still fat?

A friend of ours has just returned from a holiday in the US.  He tells us than in America, everything on restaurant menus has the number of calories for the meal in bold next to it whether you are McDonalds or an exclusive Michelin starred restaurant, it makes no difference.  Even the ice-cream seller at the movies wears a pin badge telling all fans that the $10 ice cream they are about to eat may take you way over your daily allowance without the need for you to eat anything else for the rest of that day.. Is this progress?

No!

Why?  Because a calorie is not just a calorie.  All calories are not born equal.  Food calories affect our bodies very differently depending on their source and the overall context in which they are consumed.  Conventional wisdom would have us believe that the key issue is the total number of calories consumed regardless of whether the calorie comes from carbohydrate, protein or fat.

Weight management is therefore a simple game of maths.  To stay at your current weight, simply consume the same number of calories that your body burned each day.  To lose weight, reduce the number of calories you eat regardless of whether those calories are fat, protein or carbohydrate – Right Weight Watchers? Right Slimming World? Right Rosemary Connelly and your weight loss plans?

It sounds reasonable.  But actually it’s not true.

Because the body processes each macronutrient in a distinct way and these differences have real implications for weight loss.  What is making us fat?

Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that according to NHS figures in 2010, 24 percent of Britons are now obese – some 15.5 million people - while one child in three leaving primary school is overweight.  Britain is dying young.  And bankrupting the NHS in the process!

One of the first diet plans written was in 1864 by William Banting.  He was advised to cut out carbohydrates.  He lost 35 pounds and having succeeded where he had failed so often in the past and being so delighted with the results, he published a short pamphlet “Letter on Corpulence”.  He lists the foods he avoided noting that they contained starch and saccharine tending to create fat. Hmmm……

This excellent advice was followed for the next century but as coronary heart disease figures rose after the second world war, scientists began to investigate.

In 1953 Ancel Keys published “Atherosclerosis. A problem in newer public health”.  His research at the University if Minnesota appeared to have isolated fat as the primary cause of heart disease introducing the ideas of “diet-heart hypothesis” and “lipid hypothesis” into out language.  Bingo – the low fat diet was born.

In 1977 the US congress adopted his theories and advised a low fat diet for the nation.  This was picked up in the UK and we still follow this today.  But you should know that many questioned Ancel Key’s findings including his later published study the Seven Coiuntries study which whole heartedly supported his science….until you realise that in fact he researched 14 countries throwing out those countries (such as Switzerland) whose figures did not accord with his hypothesis!  John Yudkin, a British scientist went further than that pinpointing sugar and sweeteners as the key to obesity, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Ancel Keys made fun of him.

Hmmmm again.

And now the pendulum swings back the other way.  Carbohydrates are making us fat and are the key to weight loss (just as Banting advised in 1864).    To tackle weight loss we must realise the metabolic issues around fat and fat control.  Do you think however that our Government will stand up and say the advice over the past 40 years is wrong forget everything we have said and lets do the opposite – not likely!  It’s for us (you and me) to get on and do it.

You know current government guidelines advocate between 6 and 11 servings of carbohydrate per day.  No wonder Britain got fat!

How did we get fat eating carbohydrates?  Like we have written before and many times over: it’s all about the insulin.

Listen up: here’s what Dr David Haslam of the NationalObesity Forum has to say on the matter:

“After a carb-heavy meal, the glucose (sugar) in your blood stream rises rapidly and your pancreas pumps out insulin.  Insulin takes glucose out of the blood stream, converts it to glycogen so the excess glucose is stored as body fat.  When you blood glucose levels return to normal., after about 90 minutes, the insulin level in your blood stream is still nearer maximum.  As a result, the insulin continues to stack glucose away in the form of fat.  Ultimately the level of glucose in your blood falls below normal and you feel hungry again”.

So you go grab a snack (twix anyone)?  In excessive carbohydrate laden diets our bodies become insulin resistant: fat stores grow and diabetes follows.

Pre pubescent children are being diagnosed with Diabetes 2.  They are on medication.  They have the following to look forward to : weight gain, blindness, heart attacks, strokes, possible amputations the list goes on.  That’s down to diet.  That’s reversible.

We can make a difference to all of this.  Eat real food.  Ditch processed food.  Avoid all foods that raise the blood sugar in the first place.  And don’t rely on medication that simply suppresses the issue without dealing with the underlying cause.

Looking for practical tips to bring paleo into your life?  Come on lets have some fun and find that life of yours once more!

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