Why Are You Fat?

The answer may be as simple as: we’re fat because we crave food more than anything else.

A friend of mine was telling me about her “paleo diet,” which she went through last year. She said all the foods she liked were still on the menu, as though these foods are the only ones that humans could make into a real, healthy diet. When I found out that she was not just making it up as she went along, I asked her why she was so anti-vegetarian. Her answer was fascinating to me. First off, what she describes about “paleo” diets was not paleo at all! No, I am not talking about a bunch of fruits, nuts, salads, spices, grains, vegetables and some meat. Rather: I am talking about the concept of eating whatever I want, whenever I want it with no concern or thought about what health risks these foods could possibly contain and no thought whatsoever about how these foods could affect my body in any way. In short: she was talking about eating whatever our bodies can eat regardless of what they contain. This is not only wrong, but also dangerous. She and my friend were talking about diets, weight loss programs, bodybuilding, etc., and she was basically telling me that we were so obsessed with weight loss and weight loss programs that we are forgetting about what’s actually important in our lives: our own bodies.

I thought about this friend who has not eaten any veggies in two months and had her favorite foods on her Paleo diet, which seemed to include some whole grains, pasta, pasta sauce, tomatoes and other starchy vegetables. Then I thought about my own friend, who had eaten the same kind of foods as I did and still felt awful despite going months without any kind of food. I also thought about the friend my friends and I have who is very thin but eats exactly the same foods as I do. Even though the person has been eating nothing but this food for weeks, I still do not feel the effects of this food. I realize that she may have eaten more in the three weeks prior to me having no food at all, but since I was eating almost nothing, I would not have felt the symptoms of starvation as she did.   I realized that the idea that “the human body is made to eat, like a plant,” was not necessarily true. I also realized that some people (like myself) do not want to lose weight.  

The Paleo Diet (or any other kind) is a very high carbohydrate diet with almost no fat. If there were not enough calories available on any given day, the body would stop taking in any calories. It is very hard for people to lose weight if they eat almost no carbohydrate, even if they avoid eating anything that may be high in cholesterol. However, people can lose weight eating a Paleo diet.  

How does this affect digestion? 

This is the most important issue with this diet. There are several reasons why:

1) Protein. 

Protein is not digested at all in the stomach. Instead, the stomach acid is absorbed into the bloodstream (a process called “protein breakdown”). That’s why you can eat “meat”-meat protein, which is very high and can’t be digested. 

In the early stages of digestion, the body is in a survival state. If necessary, it will try and use energy from any source. This gives a high “need” for energy for the body’s first 3 hours of digestion, so the body’s metabolism is high during this time. In the final part of digestion, the body must stop using energy, especially the breakdown of proteins because there is little energy available. When the body can use only 1/3 the energy of previous energy use, the body’s metabolism begins to slow down and the body begins to use fat and blood to fuel the breakdown of amino acids (the only foods that can be digested well by the body). 

When you eat a lot of “meat” protein and a small amount of “fish,” you don’t get the nutrients the body wants.

2) Fat. 

This is a huge issue. The problem for the body is that no matter how it attempts to break down the “meat” protein, it just breaks down too much protein. That’s why you get a high protein and a low fat diet. The body starts to burn fat instead of protein, and because it burns fat for energy instead of protein, the body’s metabolism slows and the body’s energy drops.