Since 1975, global obesity rates have tripled. More than 39% of adults are now overweight or obese (1). In Australia, nearly 2 in 3 adults and 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese (2). Childhood obesity is a strong predictor of the same in adulthood.
Conventional advice tends to centre on an energy balance theory, that is, being overweight is simply a discrepancy between calories ‘in’ and calories ‘out’. People are advised to lose weight in the form of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, and exercise more. As obesity continues to rise, it is surely not the case that people are simply ignoring the advice... who hasn’t been on a calorie counting, exercise-frenzied diet, only to burnout and regain all the weight back in a blur of cravings and fatigue?
Current advice isn’t working because obesity is primarily a hormonal problem; in particular, a problem caused by insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose in the bloodstream to enter into the body’s cells.
Blood insulin levels rise most sharply in response to ingestion of carbohydrates, because carbohydrates release the most glucose into the blood (think of that ‘sugar high’). Over time, chronically high insulin levels lead to insulin resistance, meaning the body must release more insulin to shuttle blood glucose into the cells. Part of insulin’s job is to promote fat storage and prevent fat breakdown. In the liver, insulin promotes conversion of carbohydrates into fat, increasing triglyceride levels in the blood and fat in adipose tissue (3). In order for weight loss to occur, insulin levels must be lowered.
Obesity is also caused by the frustrating ability of carbohydrate rich foods to override our brain’s natural appetite regulation mechanisms, enabling over-eating. Carbohydrates are extremely palatable and encourage over-consumption, whereas traditional whole foods rich in protein and fat are more satiating. This overeating is not simply gluttony: it’s the inability of the human body to properly process carbohydrates. By reducing carbohydrates, we can both spontaneously eat less, and also reduce blood insulin levels - giving our bodies the opportunity to unlock our fat stores and use them for energy.
There are many other factors contributing to obesity and insulin resistance, including poor sleep, high stress and a sedentary lifestyle. At the Low Carb Clinic, qualified practitioners work with you to meet your weight loss goals – not just by helping you change your diet, but also by addressing the ‘why’ behind weight gain and difficult weight loss. We are there to help you lose weight quickly, safely, and forever.
World Health Organisation . (2018, February 16). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018, January 17). Overweight & obesity. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview
Noakes, T. (2014, September). Prof Tim Noakes - Medical aspects of the low carbohydrate lifestyle. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL5-9ZxamXc