It is a 20th century myth that ‘Fat makes you Fat’. This idea was sparked in large part due to the calorie model which stated that we needed to burn more calories than we consumed in order to effectively lose weight. Because fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories in carbohydrate/protein, fat was thought to be the best thing to remove from the diet.
This false, yet widespread belief created a “Fat Phobia,” where the health conscious looked to avoid fat at all costs. Where fat was chosen, it was often the cheap, inferior vegetable oils rather than the rich, nutritious animal and plant fats.
The result of this was that the low fat diet craze focused on a heavily carbohydrate based diet. These carbohydrates all break down into sugar and triggered certain hormonal reactions in our body that turned us into sugar burning, fat storing machines. In addition, this reduction in healthy fat consumption created severe fatty acid deficiencies, and massive hormonal, cognitive, and mood altering problems (since the brain and hormones are primarily made up of fat).
In response, the pharmaceutical demand for synthetic hormones, hormone replacements, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications went through the roof. In addition, people did not effectively lose weight, in fact, they often got even heavier .
Hormones control weight gain/loss and the body’s ability to burn fat.
If we want to be lean, trim, and strong then we need to be mindful of these hormones, their pervasiveness and influence on bodily tissues.
For example, the pro-inflammatory, fat storage hormones – Insulin and Cortisol – trigger either sugar burning/fat storage or fat burning/sugar storage pathways.
The important anti-inflammatory, fat burning hormones are Leptin, Testosterone and Growth Hormone.
The current widely used food guide pyramid emphasizes the consumption of cereals and grains, skimmed milk (lots of lactose sugars), and all kinds of supposedly healthy cereal bars that that are actually loaded with high glycemic index/load foods that stimulate our body to burn sugar (glucose) as fuel.
With elevated sugar comes the release of insulin to lower the blood sugar and fill up the liver, muscle, and fat cells. High glycemic index (lots of glucose immediately) and load (lots of glucose released over a period of time) foods naturally stimulate the need for lots of insulin. This causes a large burden on the pancreas to produce enough insulin. Also, since insulin naturally stimulates the inflammatory pathway, cytokines interact with the leptin receptors in the hypothalamus causing a desensitivity in the leptin response of satiety and fat burning.
This series of reactions swings our body into sugar burning mode. Once insulin is finished lowering blood sugar, cortisol is released from the adrenal cortex to elevate blood sugar again (by metabolizing stores sugars in the muscles/liver and breaking down key proteins). This then releases more insulin causing blood sugar to dip and the pattern continues.
This insulin/cortisol tag-team continues to dominate our body until either a healthy fat/moderate protein meal is eaten, physical nerve stress is removed, or appropriate burst training exercise is performed to lower stress, balance blood sugar levels and stimulate growth hormone and testosterone.
Eventually the insulin/cortisol reaction will continue to wreak daily havoc until we teach our bodies through proper nutrition, detox, exercise, posture and breathing patterns to burn fat more effectively. For most this will take a period of time as the hypothalamus must undergo a period of healing to allow the leptin receptors to take their rightful place and the cellular insulin receptors to regain sensitivity.
Dr. David Jockers is a US based chiropractor, exercise physiologist and natural health specialist. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition and exercise, and structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to www.exodushc.com
Weight gain at menopause is often linked to oestrogen dominance and so rebalancing with bioidentical progesterone can certainly help lose some pounds.