Thinking Thursday – The Real Story On What Makes Us Fat

Thinking Thursday is a day to think about something besides lean, business improvement, six sigma, or the usual items discussed. Sometimes topics can relate to the business world and other times it’s just plain fun.


Today’s topic is about being lean but not about being “Lean.” It’s a topic that hits very close to home, your gut and health. Besides being a Lean propoment in business, I’m a nutrition coach at my local gym CrossFitCFT. I have to say growing up I was always the “big boned” kid who was picked on for being fat. My whole life until November of 2009 I was a vegetarian and initially that was because of religious reasons. My parents are Hindu and didn’t keep any meat in the house and they always packed my lunch so it was pretty simple not eating meat.

I got into martial arts and sports as a young teenager and slowly the pounds began to shed but I never had a strong physique. I ran cross country in high school and wrestled but endurance was all I had. Then came college. And over the course of 5 years (I cooped so it too me an extra year) I put on 60 lbs. of weight and was a very big 230. After college I decided I needed to get my act together and started eating better and exercising but still wasn’t loosing the weight.

In 2009 I was introduced to the Paleo Diet. The diet has four tenants:

1) Keep your body insulin sensitive by not giving it too much insulin in the first place. In other words watch the carbohydrate intake and no dairy because dairy protein will spike your insulin dramatically. Lower carbohydrate intake isn’t too much of a problem if you follow principle 2.

2) Prevent gut lining damage. There are several foods that can cause the intestinal walls in your stomach to be damaged. The worst of these is gluten but this also includes beans, legumes, peanuts, rice, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant.

3) Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio should be 1(omega-3):3(omega-6). If the ratio isn’t correct your body can become systemically inflamed and while I’m not going to go into the details but it has to do with too much production of arachidonic acid and other factors. The modern diet is approximately 1(omega-3):20/30(omega-6).

4) Acid-Alkaline balance. You want your body to be close to a Ph of 7(neutral) as possible. Meat, dairy, and grains are acid producing and vegetables and fruits are alkaline producing in the body.

So what actually makes us fat? It’s insulin regulation. Yes total caloric intake is a factor but not the primary factor and definitely not the only factor. Insulin is a hormone that tells your body to use or store the food you just ate. If you eat a meal like pasta and garlic bread you have a very high insulin response (and a very fast insulin response) so your body gets all this fuel that it doesn’t need and puts it in storage. Conversely since your insulin levels spiked up they will come crashing down making you hungry again in a few hours even if you had a 1000 calorie meal.

What to eat? Basically lean meats (grass fed/wild/free range), vegetables, fruits, and some nuts and good fats. Next time you’re at the supermarket try to only buy food from the outside of the store and not processed junk on the inside aisles. The more processed a food is the more it will spike your insulin.