If ever there was a question which multitudes would like a simple answer to, here it is: “Why do we get fat?” Undoubtedly, if we knew the answer to that question, we could solve what has become a national epidemic of obesity, fad-diet insanity, self-esteem issues, some types of bullying, and many heath concerns. Right?

After reading many books, web and print articles and asking that question to medical and other professionals, here’s the typical answer I’ve received: we eat too much, and/or we don’t exercise enough. But is it really that simple? Unfortunately, No.

The last two print sources I’ve completed, Gary Taubes book: “Why We Get Fat” and “The Blood Sugar Diet” by Michael Mosley have provided more insight to this age-old question than just about everything else I’ve seen. Gary Taubes is a lecturer and science/research journalist, and Michael is a guy who, after struggling with his own health for years, successfully cracked the code.

According to both writers, your body’s insulin is the culprit. Michael says weight gain is a product of our muscles becoming insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone produced by our pancreas. And while It controls blood sugar levels, it also controls fat storage. When you eat a meal, particularly one that is rich in sugary carbs, your insulin levels go up.

Insulin’s job is to bring down the fat and sugar that you’ve absorbed from your meals, which is now circulating in your blood stream. Ideally it would push those excess calories into cells like your muscles to be burned as fuel. But if you are “insulin resistant” your muscles find it hard to absorb these calories. Instead they get dumped into your fat cells. The trouble is, your body still craves fuel, and you will soon start feeling hungry again. So you eat, again. But because you are insulin resistant many of the calories you absorb get diverted into your fat cells. You get fatter but still stay hungry.

The natural progression then, according to Michael is insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, diabetes, and obesity. His solution? Stop eating foods that trigger crazy insulin levels, and do something to get your muscles back in shape.

Michael’s web site is chocked full of hints on getting active, eating better, and helpful resources. You can review or purchase Michael’s books on Amazon by clicking here, or Gary’s books here.

Gary’s take on obesity is almost identical, but much more detailed. Here’s a point-by-point explanation:

  • we eat foods and drink beverages containing far too much sugar, flour, simple carbohydrates, and processed ingredients
  • our body reacts by creating too much insulin
  • insulin is the “key” to opening the “locks” on the “doors” to the approximately 30 trillion cells that make up our body
  • normal amounts of insulin would prevent these “locks and doors” from being open too long, but excessive amounts of insulin keep them open, thus allowing our cells to consume the fuel that is needed, and store the rest
  • certain areas in our bodies (stomach and abdominal for men, hips and butt for women) contain cells designed to store more fat than others, and excessive insulin causes these cells to grow the most
  • excessive cell growth = obesity, chronic illness, heart and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

So what should we do? Simple: stop eating so much sugar, flour (bread, biscuits, buns, etc), simple carbs such as fruit juice, milk, honey, syrup and brown sugar, and start eating more protein, complex carbs such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains (instead of processed grains), oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans and lentils.

Luckily for most of us this isn’t rocket science, because I only know one rocket scientist, and she’s busy launching rockets. I’ve always believed that, contrary to popular thought, ignorance (not knowing) isn’t bliss. When we learn and understand something, we can take action. We can make good decisions. We can be successful. We can create our lives exactly like we want them. We can choose to be healthier, less (or not at all) obese, more energetic, and have more vitality.

I hope this motivates you to do a little more digging. No, not in your refrigerator; in your quest for better health. Make a commitment to drive yourself towards eating better. It’s really, really worth the effort. But whatever you do, don’t text and drive – it’s just too dad-gum dangerous.

To Your Health and Mine,

Dr. Hank