The hormone that makes you fat is leptin and insulin, and curbing its harmful effects is actually very simple, and you’ll learn in this amazing article.
“Insulin diverts sugar to fat. Insulin produces fat. More insulin, more fat. Point.”
If you have been involved in nutrition for the past few years, then you have probably heard of Dr. Robert Lustig.
He is a pediatric endocrinologist and an expert in childhood obesity. He became well known in 2009 for his viral conference on YouTube called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”
You can watch this video in its original language, as well as other interviews, where he poses and believes that sugar is the true cause of obesity and other diseases of civilization.
There are “biochemical forces” that make us eat more and exercise less
Some people believe that obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little.
In other words, the behavior is driving weight gain and it is the individual’s fault that this has occurred.
However, Lustig does not believe that this is the case, at least in most people.
He believes that behavior, increased food intake and decreased exercise, is secondary to changes in the function of hormones.
It turns out that there are well-defined biological mechanisms that can explain how the food we eat disrupts the function of our hormones, which makes us eat more and gain weight.
In other words, we are not getting fat because we are eating more , we are eating more because we are getting fat.
Insulin and leptin are two of the main agents of obesity
Obesity is an incredibly complex disorder and scientists disagree on what causes it.
However, it is well established that hormones have a lot to do with this.
A key actor here is a hormone called leptin.
This hormone is secreted by fat cells. Send a signal to the brain that we have enough stored energy and that we don’t need to eat.
Obese people have a lot of body fat and a lot of leptin in their bloodstream. But the problem is that leptin does not reach the brain to send that signal.
Simply put, the brain does not “see” leptin. He does not see that we have enough stored fat and therefore thinks that we are starving. This is known as leptin resistance and is believed to be one of the main drivers of obesity.
When people are resistant to leptin, it is the hormones that drive the increase in food intake . We eat more because the brain does not see leptin and believes that we are starving.
Trying to exert willpower against the starvation signal driven by leptin is almost impossible.
Another hormone , which Lustig (and many other respected scientists) believe is one of the main culprits, is called Insulin.
Insulin is the hormone that tells our cells to collect glucose from the bloodstream . It is also the main energy storage hormone in the body. It tells our cells to store energy, either as glycogen or fat.
According to Dr. Lustig, one of the ways in which insulin contributes to obesity is to block the leptin signal in the brain.
For that reason, having chronically elevated insulin levels could be one of the reasons why people become resistant to leptin.
High insulin -> No leptin signal -> The brain does not “see” that we have a lot of stored energy and thinks that we are starving, which makes us eat.
Another thing that insulin does is send signals to fat cells , telling them to store fat and hold on to the fat they already carry.
It seems simple and makes perfect sense, but I would like to point out that many other researchers do not believe that this is true.
What causes insulin to increase?
A key feature of metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes is insulin resistance.
What insulin resistance means is basically that the cells in your body do not see the insulin signal and therefore the pancreas needs to produce even more insulin.
This leads to a condition called hyperinsulinemia , which basically means that insulin levels are high all the time.
Of course, insulin is not a “bad” hormone. It is absolutely essential for survival . But when it rises chronically, it can start to cause major problems.
But what makes insulin go up? According to Lustig, excess dietary fructose from added sugars is one of the main drivers of insulin resistance, and insulin resistance leads to chronically elevated insulin levels .
Actually, there is enough evidence to show that when people eat a LOT of fructose (from added sugars, not fruit ), this can lead to insulin resistance, high insulin levels and all related metabolic problems.
But it is important to realize that even if the dietary fructose from added sugars is one of the main causes of insulin resistance, the simple elimination of added sugar is NOT enough to reverse obesity and associated metabolic dysfunction.
Therefore, avoiding sugar is an important prevention strategy , but it will not be very effective as a cure.
The easiest way to reduce insulin levels
If high insulin levels are causing leptin resistance and weight gain (which is controversial), then reversing it is very simple.
The main stimulus for insulin secretion is dietary carbohydrates. Protein also stimulates the release of insulin, but carbohydrates are THE main factor.
Many studies show that eating less carbohydrates (a low carb diet) leads to a drastic reduction in insulin and automatic weight loss .
When people cut carbohydrates, they lose weight. Not counting calories. Whatever the mechanism, it works.
So…. It is not necessary to wait for scientists to reach a consensus on what exactly causes obesity, because whatever the mechanism, there is already a simple way to reverse it.
Although low carb diets are not a “magic” solution to these problems, we do know that they are at least much better than the failed low-fat diet that is still sold today.