TCC The Science of Fat Loss Series Part 7 – How You Get Fat

What is the ideal fat storing environment?

Although some of you may ask, why am I covering fat storage when all you want to know about is fat loss? Well, it kind of makes sense, if you don’t want to get fat, you should avoid the things that get you fat.

Let’s look beyond calories again, and look at what is really going on inside the body at the cellular, hormonal, metabolic and enzymatic processes. Some of these things are influenced by the amount and type of macronutrients directly, others indirectly, others are governed by things completely separate to these altogether.

Remember how “The Fed State” was characterised by an insulin response. And in the scientific definition, this was typified by a carbohydrate rich meal. Already, most of you should know you can manipulate macronutrient make up of a meal so this doesn’t have to be the case, but let’s take a look at the actual Hormonal Response to The Fed State.

Hormonal, Metabolic, Enzymatic Response to Eating i.e. “The Fed State”

Rise in Insulin – mainly influenced by blood glucose levels

Activation of Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) – the fat storing enzyme

Rise in Leptin – your fat cells talk to your brain telling you you’re full

Decreased Grehlin – you stop sending “hunger” signals to your brain

Increased Thyroid – metabolism speeds up (there is no evidence that having 5 meals per day is any more beneficial for metabolism than, say, 3. So the old way of thinking that smaller meals throughout the day is better for the metabolism has been pushed to “urban legend” status. This doesn’t mean there aren’t other benefits to spaced out feedings – see Muscle Protein Synthesis post – just saying it’s not done for basal metabolic rate improvements)

Decreased Growth Hormone – You can’t have everything all at once. Just because this beneficial hormone gets suppressed during this eating period, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get released at other, more beneficial, times. There is also evidence that GH can be augmented with amino acids Arginine, Ornithine and Lysine. The only problem is, the jury is still out whether these work that well when taken orally.

Increased Serotonin – this is why some strength coaches recommend a small carbohydrate meal just before bed time. Increased serotonin levels from this can help with quality of sleep.

As you can see, there are some good and some bad things that occur when you eat a meal as far as your fat loss efforts go. Needless to say, not eating doesn’t work as a sustainable way for fat loss.

Is there any way we can manipulate say the composition of a meal in order to optimise this outcome?? You bet.

You can get the positives out of the fed state and offset the negatives. It just depends on how you structure the composition and timing of your meals. This will be covered in the next part of the series. I think you can already take an educated guess as to what this might be though.

We will look at the optimal meal composition to maximise the good hormones and mitigate the bad hormones next instalment.

One of the big things to remember when talking about these hormones. It’s not only the output of these that are important, it is also your cells receptivity to it. How sensitive they are to its effects. The other important point is the interaction a lot of these different hormones have with each other.

Let’s take insulin, for example. You can elicit a NORMAL insulin response. The biggest problem with insulin normally arises from CHRONICALLY ELEVATED LEVELS OF INSULIN. Usually from over consumption of carbohydrates and even worse with the over consumption of the wrong type of carbohydrates. You can also get elevated levels of insulin as a result of the development of Insulin Resistance. With Insulin Resistance, your body no longer has the same effect at a lower dose, so it has to increase insulin output to try and exert even a small effect. Now you’ve turned in to an insulin junkie. Needing a bigger and bigger hit, just to get a small “high”.

To make matters worse, Insulin Resistance quite often coincides with Leptin Resistance. So, now you eat things that aren’t good for you, your blood sugars are way too high, your insulin levels are way too high, BUT YOU DON’T FEEL FULL!! And we wonder why obese people over eat?!?

Glucose tolerance and Insulin Resistance is highly variable from one person to the next. There are diet, exercise and also genetic factors involved. How you respond to a certain level of glucose is going to be different than mine. BUT. This is also a fluid and shifting process for each individual. One that you can actually exert an influence over. You can start affecting insulin sensitivity in as little 2-3 weeks if you really wanted. You can also start reversing these symptoms in that time frame too.

If you just said to me “the only way you get fat is if you eat more calories than you burn”, then you can see now how you start looking like a petulant child learning at a grade 2 level. Think about every level in the list above. And then think about all the things that can go wrong with not only the output of said hormones, but also how the body is receptive to them. Do you think it would change things if a person had:

– Insulin resistance?

– Leptin resistance?

– impaired Thyroid function?, etc

HOW your body process and responds to the calories is a huge factor.

It should seem obvious, but…if you eat a high fat high sugar diet, you’re going to have a bad time. Shocking right?!! I know! Imagine that. What people telling us over and over again for years might actually be true. I don’t give a crap about what diet dogma you subscribe to, you can’t get around these factors. And you will see, there is not one diet approach in the world that advocates a high fat / high carb diet. It’s used to be Atkins or Pritiken. Zone or South Beach. These days it’s Paleo. Now the pendulum is starting to swing back again. What I’m trying to say is, you can dress it up and sex it up any way you want to. At the end of the day they ALL fall back on the same physiological principles. You are never EVER going to escape these.

Hormonal Response to Chronic Stress

As discussed in previous posts. Stress affects a great deal of the hormones involved in fat accumulation and fat loss. As a general rule. Chronic stress leads to an increase in all of the “bad” hormones. And a depression of all of the “good” ones.

Increased Cortisol

Decreased Growth Hormone

Decreased Thyroid Hormones

Decreased Testosterone

Increased Grehlin (makes you hungry)

Decreased Serotonin (makes you feel hungry and crave carbs, not to mention pain in the ass cranky)

Increased Insulin resistance / Decreased Glucose Tolerance

This obviously leads to greater fat deposition, increased hunger, muscle loss, and a slower metabolism.

Hormonal Response to Lack of Sleep

What happens to your body when you don’t get a) enough sleep? b) enough quality sleep?

Increased Cortisol

Decreased Growth Hormone

Decreased Serotonin

Decreased Testosterone

Decreased Leptin (feel hungry)

Increased Grehlin (again, you feel hungry)

Increased Insulin Resistance / Decreased Glucose Tolerance

As you can see. The responses from chronic stress and a lack of sleep are pretty much exactly the same. I need to look in to it further, but I’m currently unsure of the compounded impact of both of these occurring at the same time. For example, if you are in a highly stressed job or going through a difficult emotional period AND you are not sleeping, whether this has an even greater detrimental effect on your system than either one on their own. It’s common sense though, you rarely if ever have one without the other though. As most people can easily attest to.

Here it is!! How To Get FAT In 3 Easy Steps!!!!!

What is the perfect $#IT storm then for you to get fat??

1) Eating Too Much High Sugar High Fat Food

High carb / high sugar diet. High fat / high carb. HSHF or HCHF diet. Whichever way you cut it, there it is. Why does “processed” foods get such a bad wrap? Because this is exactly what it’s made up of.

Too much fats, too much carbs leads to “fuller” fat cells and insulin resistance.

Chronically elevated levels of insulin are a combination of too high insulin from too much carbohydrates and too much refined carbohydrates. It is also a result from insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can also result from over eating fats. So, just because you cut out your fruit doesn’t mean you can load up on all the butter and bacon you like and not have a problem. It’s stupid, it’s non sensical. It’s also unfortunate that some people still advocate this type of approach.

Now. Walk through any supermarket aisle and start looking at all packaged foods. Breakfast cereals, biscuits, chocolate, chips, whatever. Now look at the nutritional information and pay close attention to the “per 100g” part.

I will guarantee you it will look something close to:

Carbohydrates – 60g

Fats – 10-30g

Proteins – not much because we can’t get the food to taste good with it

Sugar. Fat. Salt. That’s what makes food taste good, feel good in your mouth, and make you want more.

2) Stress OUT about EVERYTHING

If I have to seriously write again why stress leads to fat gain, muscle loss, being a turd to live with and generally a shell of a human being, then you haven’t been keeping up.


3) Cut Down on Your Sleep

See above.

For every new parent out there that I haven’t had a chance to talk to. You’re going to get fat. You’re going to lose muscle. You’re going to suck at life for a while. For all of you people that don’t have an excuse. Shame on you, you should know better.

Now you know why “adrenal fatigue” is such a buzz word for the day.

Key Points:

1) Don’t eat too many carbs and fats

2) Stress is bad

3) Losing sleep is bad

Good. Now we’ve covered everything that makes you fat. We can now look at what you can do about it. 10 points to the people who can figure out what that’s going to be.

Coming Up in Part 8 – The Ultimate Fat Loss Environment

Calories Don't CountBen Minos has Bachelor degrees in both Physiotherapy and Exercise Science (Human Movements). He has worked as a Personal Trainer for 20 years and a Physiotherapist for close to 15. Ben has authored a book on nutrition titled Calories Don’t Count, available through iBooksAmazon and most online retailers. He has also authored many articles for Ironman Bodybuilding Magazine and also co authored Australia’s first Kettlebell instructor certification course. He has competed in Natural Bodybuilding over a number of years, as well as prepared numerous clients for the stage.