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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

The current theory that dominates medicine, science, media and most peoples opinions today is that overconsumption of calories causes obesity. If you overeat you get fat. Simple physics right? I propose that instead of this old premise, overeating is a consequence of our body putting on fat. This is a subtle but rather major difference. If some other factor is the cause of obesity then it will make no difference how much energy we consume because this is the resulting behaviour, not the cause. I am going to try and show evidence that obesity is caused by a defect in fat metabolism and homeostasis. The human body has many biological controls on how fat is stored and any change in these controls can have large consequences that results in obesity. 

 If overeating was the cause of obesity then by reducing the calories you eat you would lose weight. This of course is obvious to everyone. But what if it is wrong? It is well known, much to the medical communities frustration, that only 1% of diets work. Clearly, reducing calories has not resulted in a reduction in obesity. In fact, in many situations obese people have been shown to consume less or as much calories as their lean counterparts but still remain obese. A reduction in calories does not necessarily mean a reduction in weight. Only on extremely restrictive diets do obese people lose weight but they are found to lose muscle and fat from their organs and often still maintain a very high level of fat in their adipose tissue – they are simply emaciated fat people. 

However, some of the best examples to prove this point is through animal studies, which can directly test whether obesity is caused by eating too many calories. We simply ask ‘when animals become obese do they do this by eating more calories’? The examples I will give involve influences from genetics, neurobiology, hormones and natural circadian ryhthm’s.  

The first example I give looks at animal hibernation, which decouples food intake from weight gain. Hibernating squirrels will double their body weight during late summer in preparation for the hibernation in winter. This is remarkably controlled and unaffected by food intake. Squirrels in the laboratory will gain this weight even if calories are severely restricted. In addition, if the fat stores are surgically removed they will still gain that fat back very quickly despite limits on calories. This seasonal fat deposition is strongly genetically programmed and is robust to changes in food supplies. 

Investigators who have looked at weight regulation and reproduction have also shown this. Female rats who have had their ovaries surgically removed exhibit a reduction in the amount of the female sex hormone estrogen. Without estrogen the rats develop out of control appetites, severely reduce their physical activity, and quickly grow obese. Rats put on weight even if their diets are restricted to what they were eating before the surgery. When estrogen is infused back into the rats they lose the weight and adopt the normal eating and exercise behaviours exhibited prior to surgery.  Thus, calorie intake and physical activity were directly influenced by a change in hormone levels.  

Mice who have had lesions applied to their hypothalamus (a region of the brain that regulates fat metabolism) become severely obese and gain six times as much weight per calorie of food compared with normal mice. These mice became so lethargic that they barely move and develop voracious appetites. Again a change in the biological controls of fat storage results in changes in eating and physical behaviour – not the other way round.  

Genetic studies on obese strains of rats show that individuals that are placed on a restricted diet from birth onward, grow fatter by adulthood than their littermates who were allowed free reign over what they ate. Therefore, calories did not effect the obesity of these rats over their lifetime. Quite the reverse a reduction in calorie consumption seemed to be associated with increased obesity.  In addition, those rats on a restricted diet had 50% less muscle mass than normal rats and 30% less muscle mass than their counterparts who could eat what they wanted. Emaciated fat mice. 

It is clear from these animal studies that the intake of calories has no influence on weight gain. In some cases the animals would severely reduce their physical activity becoming very lethargic. However, it would be difficult to propose that a reduction in physical activity was the CAUSE for these changes but rather an associated behaviour. These studies certainly suggest that the cause of obesity is some error in fat metabolism or homeostasis that leads to increases in fat deposition and changes in behaviour (overeating, lethargy). 

In this final and human example I hope to put an end to the hypothesis that overeating is the cause of obesity. There is a rare condition known as lipodystrophy. In one case in 1913, a ten year old girl first loss fat from her face, then, over the next three years, this emaciation gradually extended down her trunk and arms. Obesity of the lower body began at fifteen and by the time she was 24 she had all the body fat localised in her lower waist. You can see the example below. 

This is clearly not a case of overeating. The most obvious explanation is fat was placed due to some genetic or hormonal condition. In fact, this is seen in the differences between the sexes. Males tend to store fat around the waist while females at the hips and this is large genetically and hormonally controlled. Although these are obvious examples they do beg the question – is fat deposition controlled by our biology and physiology or is it controlled by our behaviour. If it is not controlled by our behaviour then it is difficult to argue that obese humans are that way because they have no willpower, eat too much and do not exercise. Obesity is likely to be a defect in fat metabolism which results in overeating and lethargy. Asking obese people to change their eating patterns or to exercise more is equivalent to telling a seven foot man that they need to stop eating and exercise less in order to become shorter. 

Soon, I will talk about how I think obesity is controlled by our biology, how we get fat DESPITE calorie consumption and what we can do about it.

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I cannot believe that I only ate 1600 calories today and I am NOT hungry. I simply am amazed at this. I literally do not feel hungry at all. I am starting to get used to the meals and that horrible nausea has gone. But most of all I am simply NOT hungry. Still feeling a little weird about not eating the veges but I did have a whole brocolli head today and it didn’t blow me over my carb budget. So I think I am getting to know how to do this. 

On a more negative note I didn’t do so well on the exercise today. My heartbeat was rising very quickly and I did not burn off as much calories as I normally do by keeping my HR between 145-155 heartbeats per minute. I will monitor this. 

Today I ate:

Breakfast:

50g Edam Cheese

Lunch:

Curry Chicken: Full cream yoghurt, Garam Masala, Turmeric, Cloves, Garlic, Chilli, Ginger, Brocolli, Skinless Chicken, Mint, Canola Oil

Dinner (ATKINS STYLE)

Pork, Eggs & Butter

Exercise

20 Mins Brisk Walking on Treadmill – 143 calories

Total Calories – 1623

Carbohydrates – 20g (13.6g sugar)

Fat – 90g (33.1g Saturated Fat)

Protein – 206.7g

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Well today I woke up feeling great. Full of energy and my mood is a take on happy. I honestly believe it has taken my body three days (since sunday) to work itself free of the carbs. I will no longer eat what I want one day a week. More evidence for this is the fact that I have remained constipated since Sunday and only today do things seem like they are changing. Ive only been on this for a week but I wonder – if this is what happens when I eat carbs once what was happening to my body when I ate them everyday!!!!!!!

I have also noticed that at around 8.30pm every night I suddenly get really hungry. Cravings galore. So yesterday I thought I would have a late night supper (two eggs and a salad) and this seemed to cure this ailment. So I think that the late night supper will be a more common feature here at Darwin’s Table. 

So here was yesterdays food. 

Breakfast

Apple, Orange, Handful of cashew nuts

Lunch

Tuna Salad – Tuna, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato, Spring Onion, Olive Oil, Almonds.

Dinner

Chicken Stew – 2 chicken legs, olives, olive oil, mushrooms, onion, canned tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, celery, red wine (the chicken is buried beneath the sauce so you cant see it)

Supper

Egg Salad – 2 Eggs, Lettuce, Spring Onions, Olive Oil

Total Calories – 2064

Exercise

Brisk Walking for 20 minutes: 157 Calories

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Apparently my carb fest on sunday did put on some weight. Today I dropped from 113.5 to 113.2 kg, which is quite dissapointing considering I was down to 112.6 kg before Sundays treat. It amazes me that I could put back on that much weight overnight. But hey I definitely learned not to do that again. Also after eating the paleo food yesterday I just felt so much more healthier and I felt glad to be back on it rather than that dense feeling from all those carbs. I felt a lot less hungry yesterday and it wasn’t until dinner that I really started feeling hungry. I think it is because I am not having so much sugar as I have decided to lay off the potatoes and dried fruit. I also discovered all these different types of olive oils at the local supermarket so I will have to experiment a little in the near future. Im an olive oil king at the moment. I bought olive oil infused with garlic…..yum. 

The exercise is going extremely well and I am so much more fitter now. Its almost impossible to get my heartbeat up without really working out hard, which amazes me after just one week. I went from 15mins slow walking to 30 mins really fast paced walking. So this diet seems to have some really great benefits for your health. 

Yesterday I ate:

Lunch:

Omelette: 3 eggs, onion, coriander (yes I know not much veges but there were none in the house), canola oil

Dinner:

Baked fish: 1 whole baked fish, 3 carrots, olive oil, celery, sage

Snacks:

3 handfuls of roasted cashew nuts

2 apples 

1 orange

Beef stir fry – no oil just some veges (beans, carrots, onion) cooked with a little bit of meat. Was really hungry around 9ish so cooked it up and it did the trick by fulling me up. 

Total Calories – 1808

Total Exercise – 151 calories (20 mins brisk walking on treadmill)

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2 kg lighter and I am surprised that I can actually see the difference. But I think I can. I am feeling a lot fitter and healthier and am happy with the progress. The 2kg difference is actually smaller than what it actually is. I had a day off yesterday, and so ate lots of carbs. I think I am still holding the food, and so in reality I think I lost 3kg – but we will see tomorrow morning wont we.

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Yesterday was my day off. I had decided that one day a week I would be able to eat whatever I wanted as recommended by the paleo diet book. Dr Loren Cordain says that 80% of the time eat paleo and you can eat what you want for the remaining 20%. That was my day off. I learnt an important lesson having this day off…..NEVER DO IT AGAIN. Not only was the food not what I expected and instead made me feel full and gross but I consumed 3600 calories, a whopping 1800 calories over my limit. I am not disappointed though. I had decided to have this day off and I have learnt that this is not a good option. So from now on its paleo all the way. Today I felt the effects as I weighed in at 113.5kg which is a whole kilo over what I was yesterday. I know that this is just the food still in my system but still…..talk about a wake up call. 

This is what I ate (Im not going to break into lunch or dinner because it was a mess of eating):

Pork Sandwich

Meat pie

Hot dog

Tropical smoothie

Pesto and chicken pasta

Scone w cream and jam

Beef and cauliflower curry

Lemon Meringue pie

Total Calories = 3622 (ouch)

Exercise

30 mins brisk walking on treadmill (219 calories)

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So today I woke up feeling great. I dropped more weight despite thinking I had overate last night. Also I felt full of energy and so jumped on the treadmill. I have a new exercise regime where I am going to base how long/intense my exercise is going to be based off my heartbeat. This is how it works. I aim to keep my heartbeat between 145-155 beats per minute. If it goes above 155 then I lower the level on my treadmill and if it drops below 145 I increase it. I decided that if I go for 15 mins and I have not gone below level 6 then I just keep going until that happens. For the whole week I have not managed to break past 15 mins but today I kept going for 20 mins. I am a little afraid of exercise because I always try to overdo it and then get paranoid of it next time because Im afraid it will be too intense. So this way I have no say in the matter my heart does. 

As for the food I woke up and had a huge craving for fruits so I made a fruit salad. It was great and I could really taste the lemon and so I really do think my tastes are changing. I then was reading a book and felt quite hungry but thought it was 4pm so decided to wait an hour. But later I found out it was actually 5.30pm (meal time) and so I realised why I was so damn hungry. So I have eaten about an hour ago but I am feeling so damn HUNGRY at the moment. I think it is because I waited too long. 

So heres the day. 

Lunch

Fruit salad: apple, pear, two oranges, raisins, sliced almonds, lemon juice, dried rockmelon

Dinner

Salmon, roasted parsnips and carrots

Snacks

8 Green Olives (I was very hungry making dinner)

Total calories: 1697

Exercise

20 mins brisk walking (153 calories)

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