Calories And Obesity

excessive calories






Obesity is a huge issue with diabetes, so it's definitely time to add an article to start talking about this.  The conventional view continues to maintain that obesity and weight management in general is a matter of managing caloric intake and expenditure.  In other words, if you take in more than you burn off you will get overweight, and vice versa, and this relationship directly influences our weight.

This theory is actually fairly new, coming into being in the second half of the 20th century, and it sure did catch on.  The problem though is that it sounds pretty good on paper at first glance, but when you actually look at how this all plays out in human subjects, well a completely different story is told.

This is typical of conventional medical views though, which tends to be based upon dogma, not scientific evidence, and even in the face of overwhelming evidence against them, they tend to very stubbornly cling to their broken theories.

The calorie theory of weight management continues to be vigorously defended these days in fact, and when you look at the arguments for it, they all tend to be circular, meaning that for them to be seen as true you first have to accept that the theory is true.

So you see all sorts of references to the fact that other views cannot be true because they do not fit the calorie theory.  Faulty reasoning does not bother these people at all though, this is way more like religion than science, where the basis of something or the evidence or lack of evidence is not considered even pertinent.

This is not a knock on religion by the way, religion deals with things that can be said to be beyond science, but here we're talking about things that are readily measured by science, yet this does not cause them to question their false beliefs very much at all.

It's not that you have to look very deeply to see the flaws in the caloric theory of obesity though, as when we do studies on this, the truth very readily comes out.  Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist but has gone on to specialize in obesity and diabetes management, has an excellent series of 6 videos on the aetiology of obesity, and I encourage people to watch these as they are outstanding.

In particular, I want to talk about some the issues raised in Part 1 of his series, and I actually want to walk you through the entire series in future articles as this is some of the best material available out there on this subject.  I can only touch on some of the things that Dr. Fung brings up in these videos and I recommend you actually watch them to get the full picture.

Dr. Fung points out that the theory of calories in and calories out has had a 35 year record unblemished by success, that's a great way to put it, people have been trying to prove that this explains weight management all this time and it has all failed.

The major fly in this theory is that they assume that both caloric intake and caloric expenditure are unregulated, meaning that there is a direct relationship between metabolism and calories.  This has not shown to be the case at all though.

The body actually regulates metabolism to compensate for increased and decreased caloric intake, as well as increased and decreased caloric expenditure.  So if you eat less calories for instance, the body will first cause you to become more hungry in order to coax you to start eating again, and when that doesn't work, it will slow down metabolism in an effort to prevent weight loss.

If you eat more calories, it will actually look to decrease your appetite and also increase your metabolism to attempt to keep you at the weight it thinks you should be.

The same is true for energy expenditure, this increases appetite and there are also attempts over time to maintain one's set point, which Fung calls one's thermostat.  So whatever the thermostat is set at, our bodies make great efforts to keep us at that level, and there are some strong biological reasons behind this, and this in fact is a mechanism that has been essential to our survival as a species.

So when you look at long term weight loss studies, neither caloric restriction nor increased exercise results in any kind of significant weight loss, and while we do see some, it only amounts to a very few pounds, nothing even meaningful, and this is because of these adaptive mechanisms.

So if we are going to improve this, we really need to look at what is regulating the thermostat itself, our set point, and what actually controls this is hormones, particularly insulin.  He mentions cortisol as well in the video, and there are some other hormones that play a role as well, but obesity is a hormonal issue really and insulin is the main hormone that controls this.

Excessive insulin by the way drives not only obesity but diabetes as well, and the two conditions are very related.  While there is no real evidence that calories play any kind of significant role in obesity, there is lots of evidence that insulin levels do, and there's been studies where people's calories have been significantly reduced but their insulin levels have been raised, in a kind of showdown between these competing theories, and the subjects gained a lot of weight.

The whole point of medical science is to give us better insights as far as how our bodies work and what we may do in order to achieve better outcomes in health management, but the funny thing is, this doesn't work that well when you just ignore the evidence.

Dr. Fung wraps up the lecture by showing us recommendations from a manual on endocrinology from 1951, which warns against a high carbohydrate diet as far as managing proper weight control and recommends things like a lot of meat and eggs and non starchy vegetables.

In bygone days, it was actually widely accepted that excessive carbohydrates was what made people obese, although we didn't understand all that well why, and now we know that it it is because this diet causes excessive insulin secretion which causes excessive fat storage, as well as diabetes.  We need to wake up more to this though and kudos go out to Dr. Fung for helping spread the word.

Next: Diabesity And Insulin Part 1

Previous: Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

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