Why do we get fat?
For decades the common belief about weight gain was that if you ate more calories than you burn on a daily basis you would eventually get fat. Reasonably then, if you eat less calories than you burn you should lose weight. This sounded good, and was loosely based on the law of thermodynamics, unfortunately it completely misses the fact that weight gain in the human body is primarily hormone driven.
How is weight gain hormone driven?
Hormones are chemical messengers, they tell the body what to do. For example, men tend to have larger, stronger muscles than women. The reason for this phenomenon is not because men eat more calories and burn less calories than women, it is because men have much higher levels of a hormone called testosterone than women do. Testosterone tells the body to build big, strong muscles. A woman could eat massive amounts of food, and lift weights like crazy, and she is still not going to develop equal muscle size and strength as that of a genetically similar man. It is the testosterone that tells the body to add muscle weight. Testosterone’s chemical message to the body is “make more muscle”. Just as adding muscle weight is hormone driven, adding fat weight is also hormone driven.
What hormone is responsible for adding extra fat weight?
The hormone primarily responsible for adding body fat is Insulin. One of insulin’s messages to the body is to take any extra carbohydrate foods not being immediately burned for energy, turn it into fat and then store the fat in the body, hence the term body fat. Insulin’s message to the body is “make more fat”. Generally speaking, the more insulin you have the fatter you will be.
Why is losing weight so difficult?
Besides telling the body to turn extra carbohydrate foods into fat, insulin also tells the body not to burn its stored fat for energy. So basically, insulin’s combined messages tell the body to “get fat and stay fat”. Insulin also interferes with the function of another hormone called Leptin. Leptin is secreted into the bloodstream by the body’s fat cells. It then travels to the brain where it is supposed to tell the brain that you are full and to stop eating. Unfortunately, insulin blocks leptin’s “stop eating” signal, so your brain thinks you haven’t eaten enough and tells you to keep eating. This is why so many people will tell you they are always hungry and cannot stop eating, because insulin is blocking leptin’s “stop eating” message. Essentially, high insulin levels cause us to gain fat, prevent us from losing fat, and make us always hungry. As you might imagine, this makes weight loss extremely difficult.
Do high insulin levels cause other health problems?
Absolutely, sustained elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, pain, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Sustained elevated insulin can also lead to continued activation of the intracellular signalling pathway known as Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (MTOR) leading to Cancer, and Autoimmune Diseases like Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohns disease. Reducing insulin levels will not only help you lose weight, it could save your life.
Is insulin as bad as it sounds?
Insulin, and the other hormones in the body are there for a reason, they all serve vital functions. It is the amounts of hormones like insulin that is important, too much, or too little of a hormone can have severe consequences. Appropriate levels of insulin is healthy, it is high levels of insulin that is obviously cause for concern.
What causes high insulin levels?
There are 4 primary causes of high insulin levels listed below. Each cause will be discussed individually.
Eating too much “starch based” carbohydrate foods
Eating too much “sugar based” carbohydrate foods
Eating too much “combined” (starch + sugar) carbohydrate foods