Why Are We Overweight?

13th May 2018

There are 2 main hormones in the body that control whether you gain weight or lose weight. The first one is Insulin, which a lot of people have heard of through diabetes, and the second one is called Glucagon.


Now before I go into those what I want to do is talk through what most people typically eat on a daily basis. Most of the people I see will predominantly have cereal for breakfast, some form of crisps or chocolate for a snacks, a sandwich for their lunch and for dinner some form of pasta dish, that’s typical of about 95% of people who first come to see me to lose weight.


When we are looking at foods we need to break them down into 3 food groups essentially.


The first one is Carbohydrates.


Carbohydrates are anything that grow from the ground, so any wheat based products, things like bread, pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, you have also got more fibrous carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables and salad then you also have things like biscuits, crisps, chocolates, sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and ice cream.


So they all sit in the carbohydrate box


The second one is Proteins.


Proteins are anything with eyes and a mouth and come from a meat source things like chicken, sh, turkey, eggs, beef, lamb, pork. Then you have also got some plant based proteins such as chickpeas, lentils and tofu.


So they all sit in the protein box


Then we have Fats.


Fats are things like nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, butters, dressings and spreads. And they sit in the fat box


So if we were to break down most people’s typical days, here is what we would find


B- a bowl of cereal, we know that’s pretty much 100% carbohydrates
S- a bar of chocolate again that’s 100% carbohydrates
L- Tuna or chicken sandwich, would be around 80% carbohydrates S – a bag of crisps again 100% carbohydrates


D – Pasta or spaghetti bolognese again mainly carbohydrates so about 80%


Most of the people I see typically have 80% carbohydrates on a daily basis, now let me explain to you what carbohydrates are and their role in the body:


Carbohydrates no matter what you eat, whether you eat biscuits, crisps, chocolate, cake, pasta, bread, potatoes or cereal are all the same thing, your body cant tell the difference between any of those foods and at the end of the day they all end up as sugar in the body.


Let’s explore how this all works…


When you eat your first meal of the day, (which are predominantly carbohydrates), that comes into the body and your body breaks that down to sugar. From there that raises your blood sugar levels up high, at the high point your body says that there is too much sugar in the blood and I need to get rid of that so it produces the hormone Insulin. Insulin’s role is to the lower blood sugar levels, so insulin says to the body there is too much sugar in the blood and I need to get rid of this sugar.


Insulin then stores this sugar into three pots, the first pot it fills up is in the liver. Now the function of your liver is for the brain and the vital organs so the most important thing to the body is, get enough sugar in the liver to feed the brain throughout the day.


The second pot is for the muscle cell, we know we need sugar in the muscles to enable us to be able to move on a daily basis otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do anything.


The real trouble with these two pots is that they only have a limited capacity to store sugar, which means they can only store a little bit.


All of the excess sugar then goes into the third pot which is the FAT pot, we know that pot has an unlimited capacity to store sugar which is why we are now seeing people weighing 20, 30, 40 or 50 stone.


You are continuously getting excess dietary sugars stored as fat within the body.


Now whenever insulin is produced it always produces too much and it drops your blood sugar levels down low, at this low point your body goes into something called hypoglycaemia (which is low blood sugar levels) typical symptoms of hypoglycaemia are lack of concentration, mood swings, tiredness, headaches, craving sugary types of foods, sound familiar?


Most of the people I see experience these symptoms around 3-4 times a day on some level as I’m sure most of you do as well. What you then do is have your next meal, which again are predominantly carbohydrates, which lift you back up, then you will go back down, back up, back down, back up, back down.


So what you are doing throughout your day is what we call sugar spiking and every time insulin is produced at the top, all the excess dietary sugar is converted as FAT.


Now our body is really clever, it doesn’t just store fat for no reason, it doesn’t just say let’s have fun with everyone and make everyone store fat, it stores fat for this reason, for every 1g of fat is worth 9 calories of energy, 1g of carbohydrates is 4 calories of energy and 1g of protein is also 4 calories, so your body will naturally want to use fat as its main energy source.


The trouble we all face is that we eat the same things day after day therefore gaining weight over a period of time, you don’t just wake up one day and all of a sudden you are carrying 2, 3, 5 or 10 stone, it comes on you bit by bit until one day you look in the mirror and say actually I need to make certain changes.


So the key thing what we must understand is what makes us overweight! We now know it’s not fat that makes us FAT, it’s carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar which makes us overweight.


“Low Fat diets are Get Fat diets, because they replace the fat with Carbohydrates which are essentially just sugar”


So we really now need to begin to understand how much sugar we are eating on a daily basis, we do this by a rule called the divide by 5 rule.


If you divide the total grams of carbohydrates minus the fibre by 5, it equals the teaspoons of sugar in something. Let’s put this in perspective; the average person in the UK consumes 500-600g of Carbohydrates per day, which is 100-120 teaspoons of sugar per day.


For effective fat loss your body only really needs 20-30 teaspoons of sugar per day, so as a nation we are overeating around 100 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is why we are getting bigger and bigger.


Keep a look out for our next Blog, The Solution to Weight Loss through Nutrition