The Truth About Overweight & Obesity
Enough pain, shame, frustration, and judgment. You can lose the weight you hate. Here’s the truth.
How Did I Get Fat? What Can I Do? (Part 2)
Dr. Gary V. Koyen, Ph.D. | March 2021
How do we become overweight and obese?
Virtually all of us get fat in the same way and through the same process: We live in such a way that we elevate insulin, elevate ghrelin (hunger hormone), and suppress the effects of leptin and Peptide YY (“fullness” hormones). Perhaps we also elevate cortisol, one of the stress hormones. As long as we live this way we will get fat, will be unable to lose fat and keep it off, and will become fatter over time. This is the very bad trend we’re on as a country, and each of us who is overweight or obese faces the same truth. See the attached charts.
When I was in high school (1961-1963) we had almost no overweight or obese students, teachers, staff, or administrators. I pulled out my 1963 HS annual today, and found only a handful of students and adults who were overweight or obese. There was only one truly obese student in a class of over 200 kids. We have to recognize and admit that something has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. I think it’s fair to say that things really started to change in the 1960s and 1970s, and then began to produce very bad results in the 1980s. The process has accelerated in the last 30-40 years, and we are now in an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
To succeed at losing weight and keeping it off, we have to know what happened and how to reverse it.
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What changed in the 60s and 70s and accelerated in the 80s?
Back then, normal was lean, with a reasonably good body composition. Now normal is overweight or obese, with a high percentage of bodyfat. The dominant belief is that we got fat from eating too many calories. This is not true. We got fat because of the kinds of calories we ate, which affected our hormones. Only then did the total number of calories become a significant factor. Reminder! Virtually all of us got fat in the same way and through the same process:
We got fat by living in a way that elevates insulin, elevates ghrelin (hunger hormone), elevates cortisol, and suppresses the effects of leptin and Peptide YY (“fullness” hormones).
In the 50s to 70s the content of our diet began to change radically. Sugar breakfast cereals, Kool-Aid, and such effectively began in the mid-1950s. This type of products became increasingly popular during the following decades. In addition, we began consuming ever larger amounts of fast food, convenient food, processed food, packaged food, and restaurant food. All of which had more sugar and refined carbohydrate. Sweetened beverages such as soda pop became common, and in ever-larger sizes. There’s no need for extensive detail here—it is simple fact that we began taking more and more of our calories in the form of sugars and refined carbohydrates (which are processed like sugar in the body).
For more information, search YouTube for Dr. Robert Lustig’s videos and Dr. Jason Fung’s videos. As well, Dr. Benjamin Bikman’s book “Why We Get Sick,” and Dr. Jason Fung’s books “The Obesity Code” and “The Diabetes Code” are excellent resources. And see Gary V. Koyen’s articles on this website.
Our bodies are not equipped for such a sugar load. Evolutionarily humans did not have access to concentrated sugars and refined carbohydrates. Our bodies did not evolve to handle large loads of such foods, and consuming them throws our entire hormonal system into dysregulation. Consuming large amounts of sugars and fast-burning carbs is like putting gasoline in a diesel engine. It doesn’t lead to a happy ending.
Initially, a fat body is a body struggling to cope with bad fuel…not too much fuel. Eventually it has to cope with both—too much fuel and bad fuel.
The changed content of our diet drove up blood sugar, which in turn drove up insulin levels. One of insulin’s jobs is to store fat. Excess blood sugar has to go somewhere. Elevated insulin drove the conversion of excess sugar—through the liver—into fats, which were then stored in the liver, other organs, and our fat cells. Insulin overwhelmed leptin—the hormone that controls fat storage—effectively forcing fat storage.
Elevated insulin wasn’t the only hormonal problem, however. Sugars and fast-burning carbs cause blood sugar spikes, but also cause blood sugar crashes, which activate ghrelin, the hunger hormone. So we eat more calories. And there’s more. Peptide YY is primarily responsive to fats and proteins, producing the feeling of being full. Peptide YY did not evolve as a signaling system in the presence of concentrated sugars and hot carbohydrates. If most of our calories come from sugars and fast-burning carbs, the effectiveness of Peptide YY is reduced, and we consume more calories. In other words, we eat excess calories because we feel hungry from hormones that are made dysfunctional from eating too much sugar and too many hot carbohydrates.
So, am I saying that we do eat too many calories? Yes, absolutely, but it’s because we’ve caused our hormones to be out of balance and dysfunctional. Eating too many calories follows the hormones. It’s an effect, not the cause. The content of our diet affects our hormones, and the disrupted hormones cause over-eating.
By now it’s clear. Sustainable weight loss depends on correcting hormone imbalances—especially insulin. Elevated insulin causes the body to store fat. The higher the insulin, the greater the fat storage. Failure is certain unless we restore insulin and other hormones to their proper levels, roles, and effectiveness. To do so we must stop flooding our bodies with sugar and fast-burning carbohydrates. Then our hormones can begin to normalize.
Besides the change in the content of our diet, there was another dramatic change in how we ate. In the 50s to 70s, most food was consumed in the home in 2 or 3 standard meals. This meant that we spiked insulin 2-3 times a day. All of this changed to the point that today eating and drinking calories is an all-day process. A very large percentage of food is eaten on the go, and is heavy in sugars and hot carbs. Snack food is mostly sugars, carbs, salt, industrial seed oils, flavorings, chemicals, and added colors. Beverages of almost all kinds, including those bought in the “best and healthiest stores,” are almost entirely sugar bombs. In short, we are driving insulin all day except when we’re dead asleep.
So, are we doomed? Are we destined to failure? Is there no hope?
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