This article about (unwanted) weight gain was the feature article in the second issue of "Coffee With Jim". Since the article was personalized, it contained the name of the subscriber at certain points. For now, pretend your name is Claire.
What Causes Us to Gain Weight Fast?
This article might save you from fast weight gain.
It might also save you from embarrassing
Have you ever told a friend that we get
fat from the carbohydrates in our diets?
This is actually a common HALF-truth
many low carb dieters pass on. The truth is that
some carbs do get stored as body fat under
some conditions. But this is not usually the
main source of raw materials for body fat.
And a skeptical medical professional might
express some disdain if you blindly parrot
this line in her presence.
But we all know that excess carbohydrates
can contribute to fat storage, don't we? We all know that eating tons of carbs is a great way to gain weight fast, don't we?
So, if carbohydrates aren't the main source of fat for our fat cells, how do
carbohydrates contribute to fat gain?
It is important to understand the answer
to this question if you are to understand
what is going on in your body when you
eat various kinds of food, and if you
are to avoid the embarrassment of giving
overly-simplistic explanations in front of
the wrong people.
How Do Carbs Lead to Fast Weight Gain?
Carbs in the diet find their way into the
bloodstream in the form of glucose. Fat
in the diet usually makes its way into the
bloodstream in the form of free fatty acids.
When there's too much glucose or other sugars in your blood,
this will cause your pancreas to produce
insulin which will start storing excess nutrients.
The fatty acids in the blood get stored in the
fat cells, much as you would expect. But the
excess glucose typically gets stored in the
muscle cells and the liver as glycogen-which
is ready to be converted back to glucose if
needed. It does NOT first get stored in the fat cells.
Now the liver CAN convert some glucose into
fatty acids, and these CAN get stored in the
fat cells. But this is not the main way that
our fat cells get filled up.
So, technically, carbohydrates don't get stored
as fat. Fat gets stored as fat. And this gives
some credibility to the idea that "fat makes you
But here's the key thing that the high-carb
low-fat crowd can't seem to get. Fat will not
be stored as fat without insulin. And insulin is
not triggered in any significant way without
carbs. So, when we eat too many calories, ...
... it is usually the CARBS in our diet that CAUSE the
FAT in our diet to make us fat.
And it is the carbs in our diet that make us --
at least those of us prone to gain weight fast --
eat too many calories in the first place. This
happens because insulin often "overshoots". It
takes too many fat and carb grams out of our
bloodstream when it stores fat and carbs. And
this leaves us hungry and ready to repeat the
whole process again.
Here are some implications of this fact.
First, this might help explain why some people
are successful losing weight on a high-carb,
I know you don't want to believe it, but
sometimes those diets do work for some people.
The high carb content of these diets will trigger
insulin, but there isn't much fat to store on
these low fat diets, so little fat is stored.
And once all the glycogen stores are filled, the
insulin will have a difficult time getting the excess
glucose out of the dieter's blood stream, and
this will curb hunger.
Second, it can also help explain why some people
are successful losing weight on the diets you and
I subscribe to-- low carb, high fat diets.
Without the carbs to trigger insulin, the free
fatty acids remain in the blood longer, and curb
our appetites as a result. Fat is not readily stored
on this diet either.
Third, the real danger is in eating carbs and fat
TOGETHER. That is what will make you gain weight super fast. Think about it.
What are the foods
that everyone blames for rapid fat gain?
Doughnuts. Pizza. Cheeseburgers. Etc.
What do all of these foods have in common? A lot
of carbs AND a lot of fat.
Now low carbers will say that it's the bun and not
the meat and cheese that's to blame.
And high carbers will say it's the meat and cheese
and not the bun.
Which group is right?
In a way both are. The buns without the
cheese and meat probably will not make us fat.
And the cheese and meat without the buns
probably will not make us fat. It's the two
together that pose the real danger.
But, Claire, now ask yourself: which would
you rather eat? Buns? Or MEAT and CHEESE?
How Did I Learn About This? You
Probably Haven't Seen This Explanation
in the Low Carb Diet Books!
OK, now's the time for me to fess up. I didn't
figure all this stuff out on my own. The
factual basis for this article was largely
informed by what is currently my favorite
low carb book: The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete
Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner.
The book was written by Lyle McDonald, and
it is the closest thing to a reference manual
I have found for low carb dieting. I will probably
discuss other ideas from this book in the
future. If you would like to learn more about
I also consulted Mary Enig's excellent book, Know Your Fats.
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