The famous and now withdrawn USDA’s failed food pyramid was made with an assumption that a low fat diet is better than a low carbohydrate diet? What does the latest research on low fat versus low carbohydrate diet show? Is low carbohydrate diet any superior?
To understand this question, it is important to understand how we evolved as a human species. It is believed that for about 2 million years, humans lived a “hunter gatherer” type diet which consisted of meats, eggs, fish and other animal based proteins with some gathering of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some roots.
Most of these foods are either very low glycemic or extremely low glycemic with a few foods such as some roots, honey etc. that are medium to high glycemic. Given the very physically active nature of the hunter gatherer lifestyle, having a few medium to high glycemic foods was actually not a problem as it allowed them to fatten up a bit to be ready for any eventual famines etc.
However, about 50 years ago, the USDA’s food pyramid was made with the assumption that fat is what is making people fat and eating low fat foods should help them be less fat! However, low fat foods tended to be high starch. When one consumes foods that are high starch (also called high glycemic foods, see glycemic index of foods), they trigger the production of a hormone in the body called insulin. Since the role of insulin is to control blood sugar by converting that sugar in to fat, the body actually starts storing fat leading to weight gain. In order words, all this sugar is being converted by the body in to fat! It is also believed that overexposure to a diet rich in high glycemic foods, along with a sedentary lifestyle leads to what is called “insulin resistance” where the body is not responding to insulin.
How does insulin resistance affect me?
Since insulin is one of the most common anabolic (body building) hormones in our body, insulin resistance leads to significant weight gain. Most people do realize that insulin controls blood sugar. Any idea as to how insulin controls blood sugars? What does insulin do to the blood sugar in order to control blood sugar? Insulin actually controls blood sugar by helping the body convert blood sugar in to body fat, thereby leading to weight gain, according to Dr. Prab R. Tumpati, MD, a leading weight loss physician and founder of W8MD Medical Weight Loss Centers of America.
What is metabolic starvation?
Insulin resistance also means that your body has to produce more and more insulin to continue to keep the blood sugars under control. Since insulin being high triggers fat storage and inhibits fat burning(means not burning fat even in between meals), a person who is insulin resistant (71% of all US adults are considered to be insulin resistant), not only keeps gaining weight but also has an urge to consume more carbohydrates as their bodies are unable to burn fat. This situation of a feeling of starvation while a person is overweight or obese is called “metabolic starvation”.
Why we tend to blame the victim for being overweight or obese?
Although we tend to blame the victim or the person who is overweight or obese for the overeating or eating sugary or starchy foods, if you really understand how this insulin resistance affects them and makes them choose those foods due to their own fat stores being unavailable to them leading to overeating. Most people do not understand this situation of metabolic starvation, and therefore just blame the victim or the overweight or obese person for their eating habits although it is no intentional overeating for most people.
Does insulin resistance lead to increased risk of diabetes?
Yes, the real difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 (which is the more common variety) is that in type 2 diabetes, your body is insulin resistant. Up to 71% of the entire adult population are insulin resistant, and about a third of the entire population have insulin resistance to a degree of prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome, and about 11% of all adults in the US currently have type 2 diabetes – an epidemic!
In fact, insulin resistance is the underlying process that causes type 2 diabetes eventually but for a long time, it remains undetected by most physicians that are not familiar with the effects of insulin resistance on the body in the earlier stages!
It can easily be recognized by a trained obesity medicine or metabolic medicine physicians as people would develop things like Acanthosis Nigricans on the neck, darker or thicker lines, skin tags, upper body weight gain, craving for sugars itself is a sign of insulin resistance, fatty liver, polycystic ovaries, high triglycerides, low good cholesterol etc. all of which are early signs of insulin resistance!
In fact, type 2 diabetes has gone up about 500% in the last 50 years and is expected to go up another 500% in the next 20 years, thanks to the bigger epidemic of insulin resistance!
Did our obsession with low fat diet indirectly lead to this epidemic of insulin resistance?
Yes, since most low fat foods are fortified with added sugars or high fructose corn syrup, it not only needs to insulin resistance, but also makes them gain a lot of weight, much more than had they eaten the fat to begin with!
Is it that we eat too much, gain weight, and get insulin resistance or can insulin resistance explain the overeating?
Although we traditionally thought that it is the overeating or eating habits that are leading to weight gain which in turn leads to insulin resistance, the new science and thinking is that it is the opposite. You become insulin resistant that in turn leads to “metabolic starvation” leading to a feeling of increased hunger, overeating!
Although it is a subtle distinction, it is a very important distinction as in the first scenario, we just blame the victim for overeating, while in the second scenario, we understand that the person is responding to metabolic starvation as eating then becomes survival. So, it is important to understand that it is the insulin resistance that is causing the overeating, not overeating that is leading to insulin resistance!
STOP BLAMING TO VICTIM FOR OBESITY! CORRECT THE INSULIN RESISTANCE. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP FROM PHYSICIANS TRAINED IN METABOLIC OR OBESITY MEDICINE SUCH AS THE W8MD MEDICAL WEIGHT LOSS CENTERS PHYSICIANS!
- What happens if you consume a high percentage of carb loaded, low fat diets? Does that lead to insulin resistance?
- How does insulin resistance lead to weight gain?
- What can I do to reduce my insulin resistance?
- Does insulin resistance explain my sugar cravings?
- Is blaming the obese, blaming the victim?
- Does insulin resistance explain why I keep eating the sugary and starchy foods?
- Is insulin resistance causing your weight gain?
- How to understand the sugar content of popular foods?
- What is glycemic index?
- What is glycemic load?
Before we discuss how one becomes insulin resistant, let is discuss what the role of insulin is in the human body. Insulin is the key hormone for fat gain and loss. After you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels will increase. It is the insulin’s job to push the glucose into the cells where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat and liver cells store sugar that can be released when it is needed. Each cell surface has insulin receptors which act like little doors that open and close to regulate the amount of blood sugar allowed to flow in.
If the body takes in too many simple sugars found in carbohydrates, the cells are bombarded with so much insulin that the “doors” begin to malfunction and shut down. If the doors aren’t open, the pancreas feels the need to produce even more insulin to push into the cells because it cannot perform its function to lower sugar levels, tending to leave the insulin floating in the blood stream. A vicious cycle is now in place resulting in a condition called Insulin resistance. If you have excess weight especially around your tummy area, you may have an underlying metabolic process called insulin resistance that might be contributing to your weight gain.
IN OTHER WORDS, SUGAR BECOMES FAT DUE TO INSULIN AND INSULIN MAKES YOU CRAVE FOR MORE CARBS LEADING TO OVEREATING!
ALTHOUGH IT APPEARS THAT IS A LACK OF CONTROL ISSUE WHEN IT COMES TO SUGAR CRAVINGS, IT ACTUALLY IS NOT LACK OF CONTROL OR LACK OF WILL POWER, BUT JUST PLAIN AND SIMPLE INSULIN RESISTANCE LEADING TO SUGAR CRAVINGS!
What percentage of the US population is believed to be insulin resistant?
Currently, up to 70 percent of the population of the United States have some degree of Insulin Resistance! One in three have Metabolic Syndrome or prediabetes – a later stage of insulin resistance.
How does insulin resistance cause weight gain?
Every time your body takes carbohydrates, you need insulin. The glycemic indexes of foods determine how fast the sugar is absorbed into the blood stream. Over a time of eating high glycemic index diets such as white bread, white rice, potatoes, French fries, soft drinks etc, the body becomes insulin resistant. In order to compensate, our body produces more insulin. Insulin resistance inhibits our fat cells from giving up their stores of energy to let us lose weight. The more overweight we are, the more insulin resistant we tend to become and can cause adverse health effects. The more insulin that is created leads to more fat cells to store it in, especially around the belly area, which causes less ability or desire to exercise so the glucose cannot be burned. Since abdominal fat produces harmful cytokines leading to body inflammation, it is imperative that reducing insulin resistance would be the key to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
How did the USDA’s Failed food pyramid may have contributed to increase in insulin resistance?
About 50 years ago, the food pyramid was compiled by USDA with the understanding that dietary fat was the basis of obesity and reducing the dietary fat from 40% to about 35% percent would reduce the obesity. The food pyramid was constructed with very little scientific evidence and significant carbohydrates, especially the ones with high glycemic index were allowed to be consumed. However, the high starch containing foods lead to the phenomenon of Insulin Resistance which eventually leads to a whole host of metabolic problems.
- Do You Or Someone You Love Have A Family History Of Diabetes?
- Are Overweight? Or Have Heart Disease?
- Have Trouble Losing Weight, Especially Around The Middle?
- Have High Triglycerides And Low Hdl Cholesterol?
If you answered yes to one or more, you have Insulin Resistance.
How can W8MD Medical Weight Loss Centers of America help me reduce my insulin resistance, reduce my risk of diabetes and help me lose weight?
W8MD’s weight loss physicians are very knowledgeable on the role of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of weight gain, and can help design a weight loss plan that is specifically designed for you using evidence based medicine.
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Other related questions commonly asked by low carb dieters which we hope to address in the future
- What is low carbohydrate diet or how do you define low carb diet?
- What is a sample low carbohydrate diet menu?
- Is low carbohydrate diet better for diabetics?
- What are the side effects of low carbohydrate diet?
- What are some low carbohydrate diet plans?
- What are some low carbohydrate diet recipes?
- What are some low carbohydrate diet foods?
- What is very low carbohydrate diet?
- Do people who are insulin resistant do better with low carb diet?
- How do I know if I am insulin resistant?
- Should I try to go in to ketosis for faster weight loss results?
- What is the best weight loss diet for fast weight loss results?
- Is W8MD medical weight loss centers diet considered low carb diet?
- Can I take an appetite suppressant prescription medications or diet pills with low carb diet?
- Where can I find a diet doctor that can help me get on a safe low carb diet for me?