I would like to thank Brad Pilon for his wonderful book EatStop Eat. It is full of very good information. I do not believe that his method is complete or useful for someone who is obese, but I do recommend reading it for some excellent background on this topic. It is not necessary to buy it, but it helps dispel some myths of what causes us to get fat.
Two more books that I think have very important information (but I believe ultimately veer off course) are Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes and The Gabriel Method by Jon Gabriel.
I have never seen or read of someone explaining the cause and cure for obesity in a USEFUL way. But the cause and cure for obesity is actually pretty simple. Here is why it was such a puzzle to me.
We have two cats. The older one is named Alex. He also has two nicknames. We refer to him as Baby and (ironically) The Old Man. He is a purebred Tonkinese and is lean. I would say he is even a bit small for an adult cat.
The second cat is Katie. She was born on a farm. She is a combination of Calico and Tabby. She is overweight.
We have raised both of these cats since they were kittens. Now how is it that one cat is obese and the other one is not? Is it due to breeding? Is it due to the TYPE of food we feed them? Does one cat just have no sense of self-control? Is the obese cat just lazy? Keep in mind that I have NEVER heard a satisfactory explanation for this.
What about children? How is it that CHILDREN become obese? Is it from FRUCTOSE? Is it from eating too many carbohydrates? Is it from a lack of nutrient dense foods? Are obese children just lazy?
Here was another puzzle. Why is it that someone who eats their native diet comes to a Western country and suddenly becomes obese and begins to suffer western diseases associated with obesity? Were their native foods healthier? Are Western foods making us obese? Did they just become lazy in our society?
How about this puzzle. How is it that a person can weigh 325 lbs and MAINTAIN that weight? What causes that phenomena (set-point)? Is there some magic elixir to fix it? Is it a brain defect? Did that fat person who is so out of control as to have become obese suddenly become able to count calories like a savant? Why is it that people GAIN weight after losing it?
And why is it that there was a sudden alarming rise in obesity rates in the United States? Was it due to the new low-fat diet recommendations? Was it the rise in usage of high fructose corn syrup or high polyunsaturated fatty acids? Was it an increase of fast food restaurants? Did we suddenly become lazy?
What the hell is causing all of this obesity? Is it caused by eating too many carbohydrates? Eating too much fat? Eating too much protein? Too much laziness?
The solution to all of this obesity is very simple and unexpected. But first let me explain how the body gains fat.
When you eat a meal, the food in your stomach raises your insulin level. Insulin is a hormone that causes us to store fat and stop burning it. While your insulin level is jacked up, you are using carbohydrates OR proteins for energy. When your insulin level drops low enough, you begin burning fat. Very simple.
I’m going to give you a rule of thumb that will help you understand obesity better:
YOU DO NOT BURN FAT FROM EATING FOOD. YOU ONLY BURN FAT BETWEEN MEALS.
It doesn’t matter what kind of a diet you follow; low-carb, low-fat, raw vegan, low-calorie, etc. Food (carbohydrates OR proteins) make your insulin levels rise. You will not burn fat until your insulin levels drop low enough to allow it. The longer you wait to eat while your insulin levels are low, the more fat you will burn.
THE LONGER YOU WAIT TO EAT WHILE YOUR INSULIN LEVELS ARE LOW, THE MORE FAT YOU WILL BURN!
So why is one of our cats obese and the other isn’t? Baby and Katie had a pecking order at dinner time. Baby would not eat until Katie had eaten. Why, I don’t know. It’s a cat thing. We would put out a can of cat food for the cats once a day. We also had some dry cat food out at all times, but Baby doesn’t like dry food. So here is why Katie got fat:
Katie can eat whenever she gets hungry. Baby doesn’t eat dry food so he will only eat when we put canned food out ONCE a day.
From this I concluded that people and animals can feel hunger before their insulin levels drop low enough to burn fat.
So what caused the sudden rise in obesity in the United States? The solution is surprising.
In the 1960s there was a huge counter-culture revolution going on. Traditions of all kinds were breaking down or changing. By the 1970s divorce began to skyrocket. Families used to sit down and eat meals together. Suddenly mothers were working and kids were responsible for getting their own food. So what does a person do when there is no structured meal time? They get something to eat when they are HUNGRY! But hunger can happen before insulin levels sufficiently drop.
There used to be a common admonition said by mothers all over the U.S. “Don’t eat now, you’ll spoil your appetite!” This makes no sense to someone who eats whenever they get hungry. The practice of eating discrete meals is a lost tradition. It is vital to make meals discrete to give time for insulin levels to drop and body fat to be maintained at a more optimal level. Without discrete meals, eating is dictated by hunger and hunger can happen before insulin levels drop enough to burn fat.
When people come to a western country and abandon their discrete meals and eat ad libitum, they quickly get fat and all of the associated pathologies that go with it. If children are fed whenever they want instead of at regular discrete meals, they too will pack on the weight.
There is no factor that causes obesity more than eating ad libitum. To prevent obesity, meals must be made discrete. Desserts can be eaten with meals, but not between meals. Soda pop can be consumed with a meal, but not between meals. Snack foods can be consumed with a meal, but not between meals. It is important to build an appetite for your next meal.
An appetite has two parts:
ONE—You get hungry.
TWO—Your stomach is empty.
ALLOW YOUR BODY TO BUILD ITS APPETITE. DON’T SPOIL YOUR APPETITE BY EATING BETWEEN MEALS!
An empty stomach is a much better guide to tell you when to eat than merely being hungry. You can easily get hungry after eating a meal by an array of triggers. Images of food, thoughts of food, smells of food, etc. all can trigger hunger. But hunger should ONLY be satisfied at meal time and only when the appetite is built and the stomach feels empty.
FOOD IS THE REWARD FOR BUILDING A STRONG APPETITE! IF YOU DON’T HAVE BOTH PARTS OF THE APPETITE BUILT, THEN SKIP MEALS UNTIL YOU DO!
Obesity is not caused by eating sweet foods, fatty foods, high protein foods, or any number of other demonizations. Obesity is caused by:
CHRONICALLY ELEVATED INSULIN LEVELS ONLY!
So eat your meals, enjoy your food, and allow your body time to resolve its obesity.
Answers to the questions:
What caused one cat to get fat and the other to not get fat? One cat ate ad libitum, the other cat ate discrete meals.
What causes childhood obesity? Eating ad libitum. Children should be allowed to eat until their appetite is satisfied, but only at discrete meal times.
Why do people gain weight after moving to a Western culture from their native culture? They begin eating ad libitum and abandon their discrete meals.
How is it that an obese person can maintain their weight? When a person goes through a period of ad libitum eating they will gain weight. When the ad libitum period turns into more discrete meals then weight becomes maintained. To lose weight requires longer periods between meals.
What is causing all of the obesity in the United States? It is simply ad libitum eating. Returning to discrete meals will prevent obesity. Allowing longer periods between meals will reverse obesity.
A final word on physical activity. Physical activity has NOTHING to do with obesity, unless it gets you out of the kitchen and away from food long enough. You cannot burn fat faster by physical activity. Remember that the proteins in your body have calories, too. There is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that physical activity helps reduce body fat. Bodybuilders have the largest muscles of ALL people and they have to fight body fat just like the rest of us.
LET YOUR APPETITE DETERMINE YOUR CALORIC INTAKE. LET YOUR DESIRE TO LOSE WEIGHT DETERMINE YOUR TIME BETWEEN MEALS.