Author Topic: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies  (Read 23620 times)

Offline C C G

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This post is written for the benefit of stumblers and newcomers  ;D

The paleo way of eating is about optimising health, and that's what we should all ultimately be aiming for.  But the fact remains a lot of people start the paleo diet because they want to lose weight, so as we have a lot of new people on the forum these past few weeks (hi guys!) I thought I would write a little endocrinology 101

When I first started paleo I read quite a short, simple article online about insulin, carbohydrates and weight.  I don't remember where it was but I do remember that as a person who knew little about the subject, it really clarified it for me and made me finally understnad why it is important to cut carbs to lose weight.  So to help others, I will attempt to reproduce it!

 The below is all very basic common knowledge for anyone who knows much about diet and biology, but not necessarily such common knowledge for the average stumbler starting out on the paleo diet.


Part 1 - what happens in the body when you consume carbohydrates, a very simplified version
- Consumption of carbohydrates results in an increase in blood sugar.  The more refined the carbohydrate, the faster and higher the rise
- Glucose is a fuel when it's in the muscles, but when it's in the blood stream in high levels it is essential a toxin.  Yes, a toxin.
- The body wants reduce the amount of this toxin in the blood, so the pancreas produces a load of insulin.  Again, the higher volume and refinedness of the carb ingested, the more insulin is produced.
- Muscle cells are covered in insulin receptors; insulin binds to these and prompts them to take in glucose to remove it from the bloodstream.  It is stored in the muscles as glycogen, to be used as energy when necessary (e.g. anaerobic exercise)
- if the muscles are 'full', the excess is converted into triglycerides and stored in adipocytes i.e/ turned into fat.  (this is why athletes, whose muscle cells have 'space', can eat a lot of carbs and not get fat.  But they can still get diabetes on route to winning 5 olympic gold medals - see Redgrave, Sir Steve).  -
- This is not a problem in and of itself, because the body is creating and burning fat constantly.  However because of the spike in insulin, some of the glucose that was already in the blood is also converted to fat as well.  So you end up with slightly more energy stored as fat than the energy from the carbs you just ate.
- Additionally, this leaves you with low blood sugar and makes you more likely to snack or overeat, as you are hungry!

Insulin sensitivity and Insulin Resistance
- if someone is described as being insulin resistant, this means that their muscle cells are not as sensitive to the effects of insulin and do not uptake glucose from the bloodstream so readily; the excess glucose is more likely to be stored as fat rather than stored in the muscle cells.
- this turns into a vicious cycle of the pancreas producing more and more insulin in response to the same carbohydrate intake.  Diabetes and obesity are the eventual results.
- Someone who is insulin sensitive has muscles that are good at taking up glucose from the bloodstream.  Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, as does intermittent fasting.

How to lose weight on the paleo diet
- first one must understand that to lose weight, one must minimise the production of insulin
- rule 1 - every time you eat, insulin is produced.  So to lose weight, eat less frequently, and don't snack
- rule 2 - carbohydrates result in the largest insulin response, followed by protein, followed by fat.  So to lose weight, the intake of carbs (especially sugar) must be minimised and the intake of fat must be maximised.  This is one of the many reasons why so many people on the forum will say 'eat more fat'.  Remember that protein still has an insulinogenic effect - http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2010/1/11/insulinogenic-is-not-hyperglycemic.html
- rule 3 - anaerobic exercise uses glycogen for fuel and increases insulin sensitivity = less of the energy from your carbohydrate food will end up in fat cells, because it will either be burned, or taken into the muscles.  It will also liberate body fats for use as energy, which can then be burned off via LOW INTENSITY aerobic exercise. Lifting heavy things is also crucial
- rule 4 - In terms of minimising the insulin spike, **Carbs from leafy green veg > carbs from roots and bulbs > sugars in fruit**

Paleo doesn't have to be very low carb - you can eat 30/30/40 as carb/protein/fat or 5/30/65.  But generally, the *less* carbohydrates (especially sugar) you eat and the *more* fat you eat, the more easily you will loose weight.

Paleo is not a weight-loss diet, it's a way of eating




Sidenote 1 - leptin
- Leptin is a hormone that inhibits the appetite.  It is (mainly) produced in the adipose (fat) tissue
- Wheat germ agglutinin is a protein found in wheat and contributes to leptin resistance
- obesity results in overproduction of leptin and thus leptin resistance
- one who is leptin resistant does not feel 'full' so readily so is more likely to overeat
- this is one of the many why it is very important to cut out gluten grains

Sidenote 2 - Fasting Induced Adipocyte Factor - simplified
(I believe the the below is still a theory rather than a fact)
- FIAF is another hormone, produced by the gut wall, liver and muscles.
- FIAF is mainly produced in times of starvation and prompts the body to burn fat by blocking the action of another hormone (lipoprotein lipase)
- active gut bacteria inhibit the production of FIAF, inactive (hungry) bacteria cannot do this
- gut bacteria live on carbohydrate and fibre.  They cannot 'feed' on fat and protein, become inactive, and stop blocking the production of FIAF
- for a proper explanation see http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2007/12/fiaf-whos-fat-is-it-anyway.html

Sidenote 3 - hypothyroidism and hypothalamic amenorrhea
- Some some people, an extended period of time on a VLC diet can cause hypothyroidism
- the mechanism for this involves the leptin pathway - consistently low leptin causes the body to believe that it is starving and must conserve energy.  Hypothyroidism results
- Tests will not show low thyroid because the overall thyroid levels often are not low.  What is happening is that reverse T3 is not being converted to active T3; generally it will end up a T4 instead
- this is much more common in women than men, especially women who are not overweight
- symptoms include fatigue, coldness, dull hair and skin, reduced libido, irregular or absence of menstrual cycles, lack of weight loss despite a low calorie diet
- immediate introduction of more starch to the diet (e.g 80g-100g a day) should quickly bring things back to normal, if it does not, natural dessicated thyroid can be taken (other thyroid meds are not effective in this case)

Sidenote 4 - adrenal fatigue
- a lack of cortisol production as the adrenal glands are exhausted by 'chronic stress'
- stressors do include low-calorie or low-carb diets, and/or frequent intense exercise without adequate recovery, injury, emotional stress, overwork, infections, drug/alcohol use (including prescription), sugar, lack of sleep etc.
- solution - a very clean paleo diet, absolutely no sugar or gluten, and a moderate amount of starch (50-150g depending on body size and exercise levels), sleep, reduce workload, sensible levels of exercise, elimination of any long cardio workouts
- unlike hypothyroidism this is not yet a medically recognised condition

Further reading
1) Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes
2) http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/27/how-to-lose-weight.html
3) http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/27/can-protein-turn-into-fat.html
4) http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-carb-binge/
5) http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 03:14:59 AM by celticcavegirl »

Offline kyleen66

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Re: How to lose weight on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 04:12:14 PM »
Thanks for the great write up!

It completely makes sense because those times in my life when I've dropped weight just being busy where when I only had time to eat one meal a day. I'm really getting to the point where I'm not hardly hungry much anymore and may move back to eating an early dinner, like at 3:30 - 4:00 when the kid gets home. Based on this, that will be my next experiment.

I'm really in this for better health, but part of that is dropping some very needed weight. :-D


Offline GinaG

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Re: How to lose weight on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 05:07:24 PM »
Great thorough information!  We usually have an early dinner here and then a snack later of some fruit.  Basically we have breakfast, and then one large meal in the afternoon around 3 or 3:30.  thank you for this information.  It's very interesting!

Gina

Offline Wlfdg

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Re: How to lose weight on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 05:36:30 PM »
Great post!
Weight loss should NEVER be the goal though!
Weight loss = muscle loss = fat gain.

Fat loss should be the goal. For most people that REQUIRES training for muscle gain. That REQUIRES gaining strength aka lifting heavy weights with compound movements.

Cortisol levels also need to be kept in check.

Offline C C G

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Re: How to lose weight on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 06:08:45 PM »
may move back to eating an early dinner, like at 3:30 - 4:00 when the kid gets home. Based on this, that will be my next experiment.


personally I find it a *lot* easier to have brunch at 11.30 and dinner at the normal time.  I get hungry most in the evenings, and in the mornings I'm in ketosis anyway after the night time fast

Great post!
Weight loss should NEVER be the goal though!
Weight loss = muscle loss = fat gain.

Fat loss should be the goal. For most people that REQUIRES training for muscle gain. That REQUIRES gaining strength aka lifting heavy weights with compound movements.

Cortisol levels also need to be kept in check.

I'll admit to being a complete ignoramus when it comes to weight training!  I was going to ask you for advice in that area actually but will save it for another thread!


Offline Warren Dew

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 07:26:26 PM »
Good post.  A couple of minor things.

- if the muscles are 'full', the excess is converted into triglycerides and stored in adipocytes i.e/ turned into fat.  (this is why athletes, whose muscle cells have 'space', can eat a lot of carbs and not get fat.  But they can still get diabetes on route to winning 5 olympic gold medals - see Redgrave, Sir Steve).  -
- This is not a problem in and of itself, because the body is creating and burning fat constantly.  However because of the spike in insulin, some of the glucose that was already in the blood is also converted to fat as well.  So you end up with slightly more energy stored as fat than the energy from the carbs you just ate.
What you say is true, but there's another effect here.  In addition to insulin stimulating uptake of glucose in muscle tissue, insulin is also what stimulates uptake of glucose and fat in fatty tissue.  In the absence of insulin, fatty tissue will release fat rather than absorbing it, facilitating weight loss.

Also, while the muscles getting "full" of glycogen is what increases insulin resistance in the short term, longer term and more extreme insulin resistance, such as is associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, comes from the fat cells also becoming insulin resistant.


Offline PaleoRocks!

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 10:01:19 PM »
For those who have been in the Paleo/Primal lifestyle for quite some time, don't forget about Intermittent Fasting! It is great for weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and longevity! The leangains approach (16 hours fasting, 8 hour eating window) seems to be the more popular form of IF.

Offline Talkurt

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2011, 10:20:44 AM »
Ive been playing devils advocate with myself a bit. Not to get off this diet but just to understand the way weight loss works if your dont do low Carb.

It is of course much harder to lose fat/weight while eating a high carb diet but people have done it. Even i have done it before i discovered paleo. The closest i could come to some logical thought was that as you work out, your muscles get better at absorbing the glucose so less and less gets into your fat. Is that correct? Also that sounds like the way it would happen with weight lifting, Is it the same with cardio?

This is more than anything so i can explain it to people that im talking to.

Offline Wlfdg

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2011, 10:44:17 AM »
Ive been playing devils advocate with myself a bit. Not to get off this diet but just to understand the way weight loss works if your dont do low Carb.

It is of course much harder to lose fat/weight while eating a high carb diet but people have done it. Even i have done it before i discovered paleo. The closest i could come to some logical thought was that as you work out, your muscles get better at absorbing the glucose so less and less gets into your fat. Is that correct? Also that sounds like the way it would happen with weight lifting, Is it the same with cardio?

This is more than anything so i can explain it to people that im talking to.
Insulin sensitivity is what you are looking for. Exercise in general improves insulin sensitivity as does fasting and bodyfat reduction.

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/3/445.full

Rolfdevinci

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2011, 12:39:28 PM »
Excellent post.

"don't forget about Intermittent Fasting!"

Amen! With the exception of assuming a paleo/primal WOE in 2010 starting IFing has been the landmark moment in my fitness goals.It so works for me I'm giddy! :D


Offline sparrow

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2011, 02:14:39 PM »
Amen!

Agreed.  I'm so much sharper now that I've added in the IF, plus it means that I don't need to worry about breakfast in the mornings except for the rare occasions that I wake up hungry.

Offline Il Capo

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2011, 04:03:21 PM »
had missed this write up before. Thanks.

Offline acn42

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2013, 07:58:54 AM »
this is an awesome post thank you, im new to PALEO so this was a huge help to understanding things better.

Offline C C G

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2013, 02:16:35 AM »
this is an awesome post thank you, im new to PALEO so this was a huge help to understanding things better.

Thanks!  Bear in mind that I wrote this while I was still VLC, which didn't work out for me.  Carbs are something you have to experiment with until you find your personal sweet spot.   10-30% of calories seems to be good; these days I do 20% carbs

Offline 21st-century caveman

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Re: How to lose fat on the Paleo WOE, or Endocrinology for Dummies
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2015, 03:59:49 PM »
Excellent post, C C G.  I have been reading and watching video interviews regarding ketogenic diets. I think we can take the rules you stated a little further, to facilitate nutritional ketosis (NK) and really get the fat-burning biochemistry going. Keeping carbs under about 30 gm/day (some say 50 gm/day) will deplete muscle and liver glycogen stores, after which the body will switch to ketone production, an energy substrate which the brain and muscles can function very well on. In fact, I've heard well-known nutritional bloggers say that the brain operates better on ketones than glucose, and ATP is readily produced for muscle use via this metabolic pathway.

Check out this presentation by Nora Gedgaudas, at the Ancestral Health Society: 
It sounds like a ketonic, fat-burning state is much more beneficial to both body and brain than being a glucose-burner.

There's also Dr. Peter Attia, who found that his athletic performance, including high-intensity, anaerobic work has improved on a ketogenic diet.  He explains it in this interview with "The Diet Doctor",  Andreas Eenfeldt:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB7aGnfLB-8

The bottom line here is, if you're eating in the Paleo way, and you're still not losing weight, try cutting the carbs further than is usual on Paleo, and increase the good fats - for example, the 5/30/65 caloric intake percentages for carbs, protein, and fats that you mentioned in your post.