Our Human Genetics and Body Composition Today

April 26, 2023 By , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • Semaglutide for weight lossThe worldwide phenomenon of weight gain, despite so many attempts at dietary intervention and exercise, indicates that the current methods that we are using to regulate caloric energy balance and body weight are not working. We need a paradigm shift with food for the way we live today as humans in developed nations. It has become very clear that we are not able to cope with our obesity-promoting genetic makeup while eating within the modern food environment, where calories are often abundant, fairly inexpensive and insulin promoting (our fat storage hormone).

Weight Loss in Today’s World

  • Working towards a healthy body composition has major health benefits for overweight individuals. It has been shown to even increase life-expectancy in those with obesity-related complications – this group of people makes up a large part of our population today.  A reduced energy/caloric intake combined with increased energy expenditure is known to be an effective weight-loss strategy.  This is somewhat of an old way of thinking and far too general. Calories of different qualities will have a dramatically different impact on the metabolic nature of the body.  Another concerning statistic is that 90% of those who lose weight through dieting will return to their original weight within 2-5 years.  I want to help my patients be the ones in the 10% that maintain their weight loss. I truly believe this is possible. Food is clearly the best medicine that we have over time. Hitting the reset button on habits and patterns with food is 100% worth the effort. We have to find a way to eat in harmony with our human genetics and be in the modern world, too. This is my intention in helping my patients. It is all very possible.  At The Natural Path, our main goal in helping patients lose weight is to reset habits and patterns with food and TEACH our patients how to maintain their losses. 

Weight Loss as a Multi-Prong Approach

  • Weight loss strategy has to use a multi-prong approach. I like to work on the food aspect, the behavioral aspect, the mental/emotional aspect, as well as bringing in some daily exercise to the table. We have to remember that we are in human genetics that comes from long ago when food was not available on the daily. We had to struggle for survival. We are also living a lot longer. Just 10,000 years ago, they say the general human life expectancy was 25-30 years old.

The Behavioral Aspect of Weight Loss

Most people gain weight because they eat too much and also eat the wrong foods. This could be due to poor dietary habits, but often over-eating stems from emotional, behavioral, and sometimes medical issues that get in the way of appetite. Working with behavioral eating psychologists over the past 7 years, I have learned a lot about how to help patients in this realm. Successful weight-loss requires PRACTICE. It takes effort fueled by motivation and inspiration.  I have enjoyed helping my patients target this aspect of eating

The Metabolic Aspect of Weight Loss

We have all seen that person who can eat a lot more than we can and not gain an ounce. Genetics is at play here in a big way. We all have to work with the set of genetics that we have been given. We were never designed to live in a world with food on demand. We were never meant to live in temperature controlled environments. We were never meant to sit all day with a technological device.  In my opinion, we are no longer living in harmony with our genetic make up and it is taking a toll on our health.  The wild amount of carbohydrate laden food in the grocery stores is clearly responsible for the fact that most of us today have some level of insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

INSULIN as our FAT Storage Hormone

INSULIN is the single most important controller of metabolism and not the thyroid hormone. Thyroid can play a role, but insulin is far more powerful.  Insulin has several different roles that lead to fat accumulation in the body. First, insulin promotes fat synthesis and storage.  When the quantity of glucose that enters the liver cells is more than what can be stored as glycogen, insulin promotes the conversion of excess glucose into fatty acids. These fatty acids are subsequently packaged as triglycerides in very low density lipoproteins and transported to the adipose tissue where they are deposited as fat. Then, insulin upregulates the use of glucose by most of the body’s tissues, which slows or halts the body from burning fat. In the presence of insulin, it is extremely easy to store fat and very difficult to burn fat. Insulin promotes obesity. Due to insulin’s obesity promoting effects, an insulin promoting diet will cause fat storage and make it very difficult to lose weight. 

The Danger of Visceral Fat and Insulin Resistance

Fat cells generally have two main functions, one is to store energy and the other to help our body temperature by means of insulation.  Excess intra-abdominal or visceral fat, has an other role. Once the visceral cells fill with fat, they take on a hormonal function by making and releasing inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines can interfere with normal hormonal functions. For reasons still being researched, some of these inflammatory cytokines disrupt insulin’s role on cellular level and make insulin less effective on the cell receptor.  The medical term for this condition is called ‘insulin resistance.’  To get the same job done as before, the body compensates by producing even more insulin. Now, the fat storage effects of insulin and its role in inhibiting fat breakdown are even stronger. This is why so many feel that their metabolism has slowed down. This becomes a vicious cycle. Dialing into an eating plan that will keep blood sugar and insulin stable over time will allow you to burn your fat stores for fuel.

Fat Breakdown is Enhanced in the Absence of High Insulin Levels

Many aspects of fat breakdown to be used for caloric energy are enhanced in the absence of insulin.  It is important to have a longer space inbetween meals to allow for insulin levels to decrease. Intermittent fasting is very beneficial for our insulin regulation. When insulin levels become healthy and regulated, we will find that fat can easily become available to be burned for fuel, and fast storage dramatically slows down.   When insulin is regulated, we see the enzyme hormone-sensitive lipase in the fat cells become strongly activated. This causes hydrolysis or the breakdown of stored triglycerides, which releases fatty acids and glycerol from the adipose tissue into the circulating blood. The overall effect is significant weight loss. This is the #1 reason that I recommend the specific eating plans that I do on our medically supervised weight loss programs at The Natural Path. This also takes TIME. We see in the research that it can take up to 6 months of following a low carb diet to get insulin to become sensitive again.

The Modern Day Food Environment on Fat Storage

Here we are today as humans in the modern world with very ancient genetics. Our metabolic genetics will take millions of years to change. Our caveman ancestors used considerable amounts of energy on the daily and covered great distances on foot in search of food. Their meals were mainly low energy-dense foods, were often infrequent and interrupted by regular periods of famine. They also utilize large amounts of energy to maintain their body heat, especially in colder climates. In order to survive periods of starvation, the caveman’s body perfected ways to store excess energy in the form of body fat. Those with more efficient storage systems had a significant advantage over their less padded friends during periods of famine.  Today, we have food on demand.  Today, our food is more calorically dense. Today, we never have the famine but are programmed to store fat very easily. Today, we live in temperature controlled environments. Today we sit more than any other humans who ever came before us. Today, we are up against A LOT when it comes to body composition.  Our genetics and our food environment are not working well for our body composition today.

The worldwide phenomenon of weight gain therefore indicates that the current mechanisms of regulating energy balance are clearly unable to cope with the prevailing obesity-promoting environment.



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