Building on my previous post on how I do a LCHF diet as succinctly as possible, this post describes why I think it works. Maybe not as brief as the last post, but tried to make it as simple as possible, while still describing how it works. Here goes.
- Human bodies have evolved to be very adaptable and survive eating many different things -- we're omnivores after all.
- Highly sweet fruits and highly concentrated starches rarely were found by our ancestors, and when they were, there was a healthy portion of fiber along with them. (Well, in the case of honey they came with lots of bees.) These were things which moderated the availability of these concentrated carbohydrate calories.
- We adapted to use any of these concentrated energy sources when we found them, burn what we could immediately for fuel, store some in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and store the rest as fat.
- Because of that we have several hormones that balance all those energy sources a help to keep things in our bodies stable.
- When we ingest sugar (or carbohydrates which almost immediately turn to sugar) insulin is released in our bloodstream to tell our muscles and fat cells to open up and take in the sugar.
- In our current society, we have an endless supply of sugar and carbohydrate that we consume far more of, far more continuously than our bodies evolved to handle.
- Over time, our muscles become insensitive to the insulin signal that seems to never end, and don't take in the sugar because they have plenty already. This is called insulin resistance.
- Eventually, our bodies can't produce insulin very well, leading to pre-diabetes and full-blown diabetes.
- The sugar has to go somewhere and the fat cells take it in since they don't become insulin resistant as quickly. In any event, we pump out more insulin into the bloodstream to make sure the sugar gets taken care of.
- This causes a drop in blood sugar and the brain thinks; "it's time to eat again!" Starting a vicious cycle.
- Fat cells release a hormone called leptin. The more fat cells or the more full those cells are with fat, the more leptin is released.
- Leptin is supposed to signal the brain that "we're good here, we don't need more to eat." It also signals that our bodies have plenty of energy and it will trigger the urge for activity, movement, and generally increased metabolism.
- Here's the key: Insulin blocks leptin! That means, if we're consuming lots of carbs, that signal to the brain is shut down the brain doesn't get the message that we don't need to eat more. (In particular, if we have insulin resistance we're in that vicious cycle and are continuously consuming carbs and keeping insulin high.)
- So when I significantly cut carbs (only takes cutting it below 100 to 150 gms/day or so) the high insulin goes away, my leptin signal was unblocked, and I naturally ate less -- my body's natural control systems start working again. That leptin signal also told my body to move more -- giving me lots of energy I didn't know I had.
So admittedly, this is still a little complicated to explain, but certainly not rocket science. This is the mechanism that allowed me to reduce my weight and enjoy renewed health and lots of energy I thought I had lost for good.