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What makes us gain weight?

Unfortunately, in recent years the obesity epidemic has intensified and a certain paradox has become more apparent, because with the growing awareness of the causes of gaining weight, the number of obese people is not decreasing. The well-known American journalist Gary Taubes, specializing in nutrition science, in his research published in the book “Why we get fat and what to do about it?” presented theses based on the following conclusions:

First, we must examine some of the fundamental assumptions on which Taubes bases his conclusions. Let us examine the details of how the body functions in terms of carbohydrates – information that is generally believed to be true, but in fact far from proven facts. Although Taubes starts from the right starting position, he presents a very narrow view of the effects of energy production and metabolism and does not take into account the whole range of other processes that take place in the human body at that time and cause various interactions.

When a person consumes carbohydrates, glucose is produced in the intestines, where food is digested, which is absorbed into the bloodstream, and then, thanks to insulin, penetrates into the cells where it oxidizes and becomes a source of energy. In this way, hunger is fulfilled – that is, the energy need that emerges in the cells and translates into our urge to eat.

Glucose, which is not used immediately for energy production, can be stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen, a starchy polysaccharide that will be quickly used by the cells when needed. There is also a third possibility: unused glucose can turn into triglycerides (fat) – a more permanent form of energy storage that gradually builds up as adipose tissue – the essence of obesity.

After a meal, blood glucose levels rise, then return to baseline levels within a few hours. After glucose is used up by cells, energy is immediately produced or converted into an energy reserve that can be used later. Accordingly, when we eat meals, blood glucose and insulin levels together rise and fall in waves because glucose entering the bloodstream automatically causes insulin to be released. All of these actions are natural and necessary in a healthy body.

However, in too many cases, a diet high in highly processed carbohydrates and simple sugars causes a constant increase in blood glucose levels. In order to maintain balance, this high glucose level requires a constant, high level of insulin, which, for reasons as yet unknown to us, gradually loses its ability to allow glucose to enter cells. To overcome the declining effectiveness of the insulin secreted – “insulin resistance” – the pancreas begins to produce more insulin, creating a vicious cycle that is counterproductive. High blood sugar leads to the secretion of more insulin, and if this condition persists for a long time, insulin resistance increases, which again leads to high blood sugar levels. This vicious cycle results in a disease of excessively high levels of insulin or, perhaps, the toxic effects of glucose, as is the case with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. According to Taubes, the reason for this is regularly consuming an excessive amount of carbohydrates.

Insulin is a hormone whose role and function are not limited to allowing cellular absorption and the metabolism of glucose. It can also assist in the absorption, metabolism, and storage of glucose in the form of triglycerides (fat). Although this stored fat is used as an energy source, high levels of insulin in the bloodstream usually block this process. Thus, excess insulin prevents energy from being available to cells that may need it. As a consequence, we feel hungry and eat, which makes us gain weight because the body stores more and more glucose.

According to Taubes, the most practical solution to the problem of too high insulin levels in the blood is to reduce the need for insulin, i.e. not supplying the blood with high-glucose food, especially highly processed carbohydrates, They are readily absorbed and assimilated and frequently cause fat deposition.

Taubes’ theory, even if assessed briefly, shows some inaccuracies. Although the basics of the presented process of digestion, absorption, and use of carbohydrates by the body are generally true, it should be emphasized that this mainly concerns the effects of consuming highly processed carbohydrates and not all carbohydrates that can be found in wholesome products. In addition, deprived of context, the results of short-term studies – achieved under controlled laboratory conditions – must be confronted with long-term health effects. There are numerous examples of experimental research that has not been confirmed by observation of everyday life. (Probably one of the better-known examples concerns beta-carotene, the primary form of vitamin A: it produces positive effects when administered through the diet, but is harmful to health when taken as a supplement.) What is certain is that the aforementioned theses are an excellent introduction to a healthy lifestyle as well as the key to understanding the causes of the global obesity epidemic.

How to fight insulin resistance and obesity caused by too high carbohydrate intake? Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting is a solution to these health problems. You will find a lot of information that will help you take care of your health on our website. Determine for yourself how much carbohydrate withdrawal can alter your life.

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