Science of weightloss

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Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 43
   Posted 7/8/2009 3:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Conventional wisdom states that the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume, which makes sense. But I've always heard that diabetics have a harder time losing weight and was wondering if there's something more complex going on in our bodies (like maybe we don't actually burn as many calories as a non-diabetic doing the same work would, just as an example). I know that we lack a certain digestive enzyme that slows stomach emptying, which means we get hungrier faster. Is this all that's behind the claim that it's harder to lose weight when you're diabetic--since we get hungrier faster, we're more likely to eat/consume more calories and hence have a harder time burning more than we consume? (On a similar note, why/how does taking certain medications cause a person to gain weight or make losing weight more difficult?)

Sorry for the onslaught of questions recently. I'm (finally) on one of my health kicks and am really trying to understand all this (diabetic) stuff...

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 7/8/2009 4:42 PM (GMT -7)   
These are really great questions! Unfortunately, I have no idea what the answers are but now, I am curious.

Lanie G
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 6027
   Posted 7/9/2009 8:27 PM (GMT -7)   

Oh boy, what a question!  I believe there are many factors involved.  First off, regardless of diabetes, there are more overweight and obese people today than there were 20 or 30 years ago.  According to statistics cited Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories (p. 232) , there is a lot of evidence that American men increased their calorie consumption from the 1970's to the 1990's by 150 calories a day, whereas women increased theirs by 350 calories a day.  At the same time, low-fat diets came into popularity and consumption of carbs increased.  Meal sizes increased and super-sized orders became popular.  Lots more snacks were marketed and there was a general decrease in physical activity.  That is, we drove more and didn't walk or ride bikes to go shopping.  So, not only were many people eating more but they were not as active.  Soft drinks switched from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup began appearing as an ingredient in cereals and other products.  Carbs more than protein or fat in the food prompt the body to produce insulin for metabolism for energy but when too many carbs are consumed and so much insulin is produced, the person gains weight if that person can't use up the energy or doesn't work it off.  Insulin is a fat-building hormone.  Type1 diabetics who don't produce their own insulin may become emaciated if they're not diagnosed and treated because their cells are literally starving since there's no insulin to help get nutrients into the cells. 

I don't know about diabetics missing a digestive enzyme.  I have not heard of that.  I've heard of some people having gastroparesis - which is delayed stomach emptying.  I know that a high carb diet will make you hungrier later and so you might eat more.  And of course carbs do increase blood sugar which is one reason to cut down on them.

There are many more facets to this and I don't understand it all.  And then there are the medications that add weight!  Like prednisone and other steroids.  And insulin...  It's puzzling! 


forum moderator - diabetes
diabetes controlled so far by low/no carb diet and exercise; no meds

Post Edited (LanieG) : 7/9/2009 9:30:50 PM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 230
   Posted 7/24/2009 4:54 PM (GMT -7)   
To my mind, insulin lies at the heart of the problem.
We know, for example, that all overweight people exhibit elevated insulin levels. Insulin is an anabolic, fat building hormone, as Lanie said. It's easy to see how elevated insulin promotes weight gain therefore.
Type 1's have a chronic lack of insulin and are typicaly slim. Type 2's overproduce insulin at first which promotes weight gain and insulin resistance, and often struggle with excess weight. Again, it's insulin.
It goes further than that though. When insulin levels are elevated, the body cannot access its fat stores for fuel. The fat is locked up, inaccessible, and that lack of fuel promotes hunger for more carbohydrates as a fuel for the body cells instead.
Only when insulin levels fall is it possible to lose weight and keep it off. This can be done by calorie resriction of course, but hunger inevitably follows calorie restriction. The only sensible and sustainable method of weight loss must be carb restriction therefore.
This way, insulin levels remain low, the body can access fat stores for fuel, and hunger is much less of a problem.
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