We have created a food system that makes available large amounts of low-fiber
energy-dense foods that have been engineered with added sugar, fat, caffeine, and
sodium to be hyper-palatable. Especially important, the large amounts of added
sugar lead to chronically high insulin and insulin resistance. Understanding this
physiology gives us key information about what we need to change to get to and
maintain a normal weight. We need to avoid calorie-dense foods that are high in
fats, added sugar, and highly refined carbohydrates.

To facilitate weight loss, focus on diet composition rather than calories. Consumption
of whole foods, including high-protein plant foods, leads to a gentle rise in
blood sugar and insulin, and the calories are used for energy metabolism rather than
being stored as fat, whereas a large dose of added sugars requires the pancreas to
produce high levels of insulin. This, in turn, boosts the storage of fat, and over time,
it also decreases the responsiveness of the body’s cells to insulin, causing insulin
resistance. When the body is resistant to insulin, it forces the pancreas to make even
more insulin and that leads to even more fat storage and obesity. When it becomes
chronic, this unhealthy feedback loop perpetuates insulin resistance, exhausts the
cells of the pancreas that synthesize insulin, and results in diabetes.

One reason that losing weight and then keeping it off is difficult is that as calories
are restricted, and weight is lost, the body’s metabolism slows down by as much as
20%. Of course, this is a valuable characteristic of metabolism that aided human
survival in times of food shortage, but it helps to sabotage the weight loss efforts of
dieters. This was illustrated vividly in studies of the extreme weight loss experience
of “The Biggest Losers.” An NIH study found that after losing large amounts of
weight, 13 of 14 contestants had very low levels of leptin (the hormone released
by fat that decreases appetite), they struggled with food cravings and, over time,
regained significant amounts of weight. When evaluated six years after the contest,
the “Losers” had a slowed metabolism that averaged expending nearly 500
calories less a day, and four contestants were even heavier than when they started
the contest.

Our bodies are programmed to hold on to the fat we have gained.
This suggests that preventing the childhood obesity that ends up in adult obesity is
a crucial step in stopping the obesity epidemic.

Additional bad news about obesity is that some people are more genetically predisposed
to be fat than others. Heredity seems to influence the number of fat cells in
the body, how much and where fat is stored, and how much energy the body uses
at rest. According to a Johns Hopkins report, studies show that only 9% of children
born to normal-weight parents will become obese. This can be compared to the
60% to 80% rate of obesity among children born to two obese parents. Studies of
identical twins confirm that although inheritance increases the risk of becoming
obese, the environment of children born to obese parents is more important than
heredity. Comparison of the weights of individuals who were adopted with the
weights of their biological and adopted parents indicates that the environment accounts
for two-thirds and genetic factors are responsible for only about a third of
the difference in weight. Our genes have not changed significantly over the last 40
years, during which time obesity rates have skyrocketed. Clearly, for most people,
various aspects of our lifestyle and food environment are more important than a
genetic tendency to put on weight.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel