Friday, June 15, 2012

Hyperlipid: Insulin and the Rewards of Overfeeding

The link below will take you to the blog of "Peter of Hyperlipid".  His blogline is telling:
"You need to get calories from somewhere, should it be from carbohydrate or fat?"
The reason this is the question is that protein almost never makes up more than 40% of kcal, and you have to work pretty darned hard to get that much of your kcal from protein.  There are two reasons for that.  One - high protein foods are generally even higher fat (at least, they are if they are of good quality), and two, no one sits around gnawing protein.  It's work, it's high in satiety, and frankly people who have that impulse just get busy and do something else instead.  If you have video of yourself depressed and compulsively eating high quality protein, by all means send it to me, I'll reconsider the above summary of what I consider the facts to be. 
In other words, do your best but you won't get fat eating meat, eggs, bacon, or fish.  If you get 600 kcal/day on protein, you'll be in the range of world class powerlifters for protein intake.  
Peter's blog can be hard to read.  He likes sarcasm and he likes to be subtle.  He's not a big fan of mercy as regards those whom he thinks are using substandard science or logic.
This particular article references the brouhaha that took place last year between blogger and researcher Stephen Guyanet, of Whole Health Source, and science writer Gary Taubes, when Gary confronted Stephen at the Ancestral Health Symposium.  That confrontation brought to a head two competing theories of why carbs make people fat, and why carb restriction makes it easier for fat people to get leaner and more healthy; and why it does so faster than simple calorie restriction.
So what's the study he uses to make his point - that fat regulation is regulated by insulin more than by leptin and the notional "adipostat" that is conjected to be dis-regulated by highly palatable foods (salt, sugar and fat laden foods) - ?  In this case, it is a study in which young healthy "blokes" are overfed to the tune of 2000kcal/day.
That's a lot.  That's enough to theoretically force a weight gain of a pound every two days. Most "blokes" supposedly run on 2700kcal/day, so bumping them up to 4700 kcal means they were eating almost as much as Morgan Spurlock was (of Super Size Me fame or infamy).  Turns out, they were eating a bunch of high carb junk to get the extra kcal, just as Morgan did.  Would you be surprised to find that in the case of these subjects, overeating by 2000 kcal/day of mostly processed carbs made them fat and sick, just like it did for Morgan?  Nope, me either.
As Peter puts the next part:
Now, all you have to do is to go and ask any cutting edge, state of the art obesity researcher and you can be told that hyperinsulinaemia is a consequence of obesity, not a cause, and that carbohydrates are the worlds greatest slimming aid because insulin is a satiety hormone and, oh, did I fall asleep there?????? Sorry.
So what stats does Peter use to prove that it's not fat accumulation that causes excess insulin, but instead the excess intake which causes high insulin which commands storage of fat (and of excess blood sugar as fat)?  Here's the summary:
If insulin resistance is the result of increasing fat mass, then insulin levels should increase as the subjects - lean healthy blokes - gain fat.  However, that's not what happens.  The insulin rates fall as the rate of fat gain falls.  That's a weird one too - if kcal is still excess, why does the rate of fat gain stall?
The chaps gained, from Table 3, 1kg of fat mass in the first week and only 0.5kg of fat in the second week... Oh, I guess this must be because the subjects either (a) sneaked off to the gym in the second week or (b) flushed their Snicker Bars down the loo in the second week, without passing them through their gastro intestinal tract first (good idea!) or (c) got bored with Snickers and stopped finding them rewarding. And of course they disconnected their Actiheart monitors at the gym.
Otherwise how you can eat 2000kcal over your energy expenditure, equivalent to nearly 200g of fat gain per day, and gain a kilo of fat in the first week, then continue to eat an excess 2000kcal/d for a second week and only gain half a kilo of fat? Calories in, calories out, you know the rules. Hmmm, in the second week there are 14,000 excess calories-in, 5,000 stored, very interesting.
We all know the obese lie about calories. It seems probable that so too must experimental subjects, in direct proportion to the duration of their over eating! Now we know. Bit of a milestone paper this one.

Uh, well, let's hope you are not allergic to sarcasm.  But as he explains, what this study shows is exactly what the body should do, which is: become increasingly insulin resistant as the massive over-feeding continues, to protect the cells from damage which results when tissues are "over-stuffed".  The result is hyperglycemia, as the ability of insulin to shunt excess sugar into cells is blunted via "cellular self defense" aka insulin resistance.
Depending upon the individual predilections of the overfed, some may have had fat cells that remains insulin sensitive long after others lost all insulin sensitivity (that would be the endomorphs, folks, whereas the ectomorphs would lose insulin sensitivity the fastest, since they are quite obviously not lipophillic).  Once the insulin resistance progresses far enough, the liver will begin to store the fat that cannot be stuffed into other tissues - intra-abdominal obesity will increase.  With enough fructose, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will manifest itself, which will accelerate the insulin resistance.
In short - Peter's brilliant analysis has taken an otherwise just plain weird experiment and shown how it provides the predicted result if viewed through the lens of the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis.  
Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.


  1. Although Peter of Hyperlipid so very often presents his views in a way that demand a second or third reading, I personally find the effort invariably to be rewarding. True he has a ready facility to ladle out large amounts of sarcasm, but they are usually well deserved and directed as witness the article above where he displays a wit more insulogenic than insolent.