Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat: The Truth behind Obesity

In the last decade, there has been a dramatic rise in the cases of patients suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and other related cardiovascular diseases.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Each minute, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key heart disease risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors. Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Most of these diseases have been found to be concurrently related to obesity or diet-related issues as the CDC places the below reasons for culprit:

  • Diabetes (high sugar/carb intake)
  • Overweight and obesity (excess calorie intake)
  • Poor diet (excess calorie intake)
  • Physical inactivity (leading to excess calories)
  • Excessive alcohol use (leading to obesity through water retention)

More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity. The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. Source: CDC1,2

Obesity has now been considered to reach epidemic proportions with 1 in every 3 adults in the US struggling with it.

But, when did it all start? Why did all of a sudden people are getting obese? Where did we go wrong?

Turns out the dramatic rise in obesity can be traced back to the 1970s with the introduction of High Fructose Corn Syrup and the wrong dietary guidelines of “lower saturated fat but increase carbohydrate” to the general population.

Ever since then, saturated fats have been held in the negative lime light while people modified their diets to incorporate more and more carbs.

Some cynics believe the move to more carbs was due to radical increase in corn production. The corn industry witnessed the largest output in production and provided the food industry with economies of scale that was earlier unheard of. In fact, corn has now infiltrated pretty much all of our diet. Even the meat we eat comes from cattle that feed on corn and NOT GRASS. That’s a serious deviation from natural diet for the animals and for us.

Another wrong guideline we were given was to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), such as vegetable oils and margarines, without much clarification. PUFA-containing foods have a high ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3, which has been found to be directly linked to serious health problems.

Now The Truth

Fat, in itself, doesn’t make you obese or FAT. In fact, saturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats are probably the best source of energy for human beings as a species. In the sense that the amount of energy or calories concentrated in them per gram is more than twice as in per gram of carbs or in proteins. (Check out the calculations here)

In fact, mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3 fats are considered extremely healthy for the body and are required to prevent brain diseases such as Alzheimer or Parkinson’s disease. On top of this, saturated healthy fats (find exhaustive list here) are important for the healthy and efficient function of all organs.

Yes, excess consumption of anything is bad. If you consume more calories than you expend on a daily basis you’re bound to gain weight. But, turns out there’s more to just controlling calories.

The truth behind obesity, or excess fat in the body, is caused when the body’s metabolism becomes “fat sparing”. In this situation, instead of burning fat for energy, the body starts burning carbs (or protein) for energy.

Since, the fats don’t get burned, the body continues to store them in different parts of the body, usually under the skin.

But how does the fat enter our body in the first place?

  • Excess consumption of unhealthy fats. (Find the right sources of fats here)
  • Conversion of excess carbs stored as fats (wherein the excess carbs or glucose are converted to lipids that are stored as fats)

But, why does the body prefer carbs over fat?

The rise in the use of sugar and carbs in most of our diets modified our body’s preferred fuel for energy. Additionally, it is easier for the body to turn glucose into energy. It is a ready and quick source of energy. However, the problem with using glucose for energy is that it doesn’t last for long. And, you are left wanting for more. Refueling again with more sugar and carbs.

But, how does eating carbs lead to over-eating?

The body’s ability to expend sugar and control hunger depends on the functioning of two hormones, insulin and leptin, respectively.

Under normal conditions, when we consume sugar or carbs, the body breaks it down to glucose and the insulin takes the sugar to various cells in the body (60% to the liver) to break it down for energy. This helps in regulating the body’s blood sugar levels.

At the same time, when we have filled our body with sufficient food i.e., with the amount of food required for immediate energy requirement, the leptin hormone sends the signal to the brain (and pancreas) that it is satiated. In simpler words, we get the sensation of being “full” and we stop eating.

In conditions, where we continue to eat more carbs than required, especially simple carbs like sugar, insulin has to deal with too much blood sugar and is unable to find cells to drop the glucose leading to Insulin resistance. To counter the situation, insulin reacts to form triglycerides of these excess glucose, which is further converted into fat and stored. As the level of triglycerides increase, it interferes with leptin’s ability to send signals to the brain. This is also known as Leptin resistance.

As such, the brain becomes oblivious to cut off food intake. Result? Overeating. This leads to even more overeating and it eventually turns into a deadly cycle. This is why obese people find it harder to stop eating.

Don’t believe us? We understand. Check out what the experts have to say:

So, what should one do?

The need of the hour is a strong control and recheck on the type of diet we’re consuming.

The greatest source of simple carbs or unhealthy fats is processed foods and junk foods. If your diet consists primarily of processed foods, junk foods, canned foods, grains, and sugar, then there is a critical need for change.

Instead of consuming more carbohydrate, focus more on eating healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, ghee, avocado oil), healthy proteins (such as lean meats, fish and eggs), and low-carb vegetables that are rich in essential minerals.

Basically, focus on foods that have a low impact on your blood sugar levels or foods with low Glycemic Index.

Note that fruits (esp. those high on sugar) are also composed of simple sugars called fructose. So you need to pick carefully. Usually, berries and melons are safe bet because their Glycemic load is lower.

We personally recommend the Ketogenic diet to all of our community members. The Ketogenic diet incorporates the benefits of healthy fats and reduces the body’s dependency on carbs, thus allowing our clients to lose drastic weight in a healthy way. Be sure to check out the science behind Ketogenic diet.

Else, if you are looking for immediate benefits and want to lose weight within four weeks, try this diet.