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Can high insulin make you fat?

  1. Dec 5, 2012 #1
    Can high insulin make you fat directly?

    I thought this was a very interesting study because it seems to question the usual relationship between insulin levels, insulin resistance and obesity:
    Hyperinsulinemia Drives Diet-Induced Obesity Independently of Brain Insulin Production

    Could High Insulin Make You Fat? Mouse Study Says Yes

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2012 #2
    Assuming this model pans out, it will be interesting if insulinogenic food indexes like below will be used to monitor insulin-releasing responses of different foods as a means to limit weight gain/maximize fat loss? Then again, I'm not sure because other studies suggest total calories is king. Nutritional research is very confusing:
    An insulin index of foods:the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foods.

    Beyond Glycemic Index: New food insulin index
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  4. Dec 5, 2012 #3

    jim mcnamara

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    All of human nutrition is extremely complex for both very sound scientific reasons and sometimes political or religious reasons. We understand rat nutrition pretty well compared to some aspects of human nutrition because studies can do things with rats that should never even be contemplated for humans. So a lot of studies are like the ones you cited, more like clinical investigations. There are some population studies, like the ongoing Framingham study.


    So what you're seeing is interesting but not surprising. There is sort of a dichotomy in the current nutrition world view. This book:

    Gary Taubes 2008 'Good Calories Bad Calories and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health' explains it and how it got the way it is.

    Taubes is a science reporter, but this does cite quotations from interviews with scientists, peer reviewed papers, so in that sense it is reasonable. But you can see from this book that how we view Nutrition Science and what makes us fat are both undergoing a major reconsideration. Exactly how science works.

    The dichotomous view is centered around fat and calories in the diet. As a simplification you can view it as:
    1. A Low fat, high carbohydrate paradigm
    2. A low carbohydrate, higher fat & protein paradigm

    Both of these versus the "Western diet". The Western diet is the bad guy, and everyone pretty much agrees with that. They usually mean the 'Pizza Hut-McDonalds-KFC-Dunkin Donuts' diet. Lotsa fat, lack of veggies, and lotsa simple carbs. My favorite!

    The choice between #1 and #2 is the issue. On a popular level, if you want to read about #1, any of the Dean Ornish books explains that point of view. If you want to go for #2, any of the "Paleo Diet" books deals with it. Example: 'The Paleolithic Prescription', S Eaton, et al 1989.
  5. Dec 6, 2012 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I'm hypersensensitive to carbs and was diagnosed as having had metabolic syndrome since I was very young. I was was a total mess until I went on the Atkins diet. Been doing it for two years and am now relatively fit and trim [lost over 50 pounds] for the first time since I was in my twenties. I also feel better than I ever have, ever! My life has always been plagued with low blood sugar problems, passing out, uncontrollable weight gain [since my early 30s], the whole works, until now.
  6. Dec 6, 2012 #5
    Thanks, I have read some of Taubes, Eaton's and Atkin's suff. I think what is interesting about the papers I've linked above is that some proteins appear to elicit significant insulin secretion while fats may blunt the response. Consider this interesting comment in a more recent paper by some of the same authors:
    Food insulin index: physiologic basis for predicting insulin demand evoked by composite meals
  7. Dec 7, 2012 #6
    I'm always very skeptical about this stuff but this was another study somewhat related to this thread (e.g. Atkins diet) that came out today arguing for a potential benefit of ketone production seen in hypocaloric and low-carb diets:
    How Calorie Restriction Influences Longevity: Protecting Cells from Damage Caused by Chronic Disease

    The original paper:

    Suppression of Oxidative Stress by β-Hydroxybutyrate, an Endogenous Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  8. Dec 7, 2012 #7
    I'd be cautious about recommending such diets to the general Western population. There's ample evidence that the antioxidant content of a variety of foods (but not supplements) has a beneficial effect. Caloric requirements vary considerably based on life style and other factors. The Inuit people, prior to receiving the "benefits" of westernization, survived on a high fat, high calorie diet with virtually no fruits or vegetables. I don't think that's a reason why the Inuit diet should be recommended for the typical consumer of a Western style diet either.


    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  9. Dec 7, 2012 #8
    I think many vegetables are encouraged in low-carb diets? It's the bread and cereal group that is not recommended but I guess there are different versions. Personally, I think the vegetables and fruit group should be at the bottom of the pyramid not the bread and cereal group as is typically recommended. The former are nutrient-dense with fewer calories.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  10. Dec 7, 2012 #9
    My point was that a low calorie ketogenic diet is not suitable as a general recommendation and caloric restriction ignores the fact that people vary widely in terms of their caloric requirements. The Atkins Diet restricts vegetables in the induction phase to less than 15 grams (about a half ounce) per day not counting fiber, which is encouraged . Note selected cereals and grains are rich sources of fiber.


    Your previous post suggested that the protective antioxidant effects of ketones is a benefit. I simply countered that there are many foods rich in antioxidants available without resorting to a ketogenic diet.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  11. Dec 7, 2012 #10
    I'm not sure about the ketones benefits, whatsoever, that's why I wrote I was skeptical. Moreover, how compelling is the evidence that increasing anti-oxidants whether as supplements or fruits/vegetables actually increases longevity? I know with supplements it's almost nil. In fact, some anti-oxidant supplements appeared to slightly increase risk of some cancers. Even with fruit/vegetables, some studies suggest that the effects are not as robust as was once thought. I'm thinking about the European cancer reduction study.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  12. Dec 7, 2012 #11
    The second link in post 7 summarizes the case for the benefits of antioxidants in foods. There is a list of references. If you're arguing that a ketogenic diet is sustainable over a lifetime and would increase longevity, I would like to see valid references. Sustained ketosis is not a physiologic state in humans and ketones are toxic at certain levels. How does one assuredly regulate the level of ketones resulting from a diet?

    In treating obesity, these diets may have a place, but I don't think they can be justified in healthy people as a means to achieve longevity based on current science.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  13. Dec 7, 2012 #12
    I'm personally not a fan of any extreme diets including ketogenic diets (but I do have my own biases) because I don't think extreme diets are sustainable over the long-term but I thought I'd comment on this point above. A ketogenic diet or fasting will result in ketone levels between 4-8 mmol. Ketoacidosis is defined as 8 mmol or > and pathological ketoacidosis (e.g. diabetic ketoacidosis), results in ketone concentrations of 20 mmol or >. Ketoacidosis, when it occurs in Type I diabetics and alcoholics which can be potentially fatal, will not occur in nondiabetic individuals due to built in feedback loops whereby excess ketones stimulate the release of insulin which slows down ketone body formation.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  14. Dec 8, 2012 #13
    So we're back to stimulating possibly excessive insulin release. Is this what we want? I will agree that it's better than potentially fatal ketoacidosis.

    EDIT: Some diabetics are currently being treated with high fat, low carbohydrate diets (< 50mg carbs/day). This has resulted in good glycemic control with strict compliance, but I'd be concerned about the increased dangers of deviations from strict compliance with diet induced ketotic patients. In addition, many diabetics have, or are prone to coronary artery disease (CAD), and I'm not ready to throw out the lipid hypothesis regarding CAD yet. This is undergoing a rethink at the present time, but the evidence remains that the (total cholesterol)/HDL ratio is a strong predictor of CAD in industrialized nations.

    http://thewarper.com.au/Downloads/A%20Low-Carbohydrate,%20Ketogenic%20Diet%20versus%20a%20Low-Fat%20Diet%20To%20Treat%20Obesity%20and%20Hyperlipidemia.pdf [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  15. Dec 8, 2012 #14
    That doesn't follow. There's a huge difference in amount of insulin secreted to prevent fatal ketoacidosis versus amounts secreted in gorging on excess calories, particularly ones with a high insulin index.
  16. Dec 8, 2012 #15
    I agree your argument sounds reasonable, but I would appreciate a reference comparing the amount of insulin released in non diabetic persons with a glycemic challenge to that released in non diabetic ketoacidosis induced by a low carbohydrate diet. My interest is not only in the risks of ketoacidosis in such people, but also in the possible effects of hypoglycemia as ketone levels fall.


    Note, this non diabetic patient with low carbohydrate diet induced ketoacidosis required exogenous insulin to stabilize her condition, indicating that her presumably normal endogenous insulin response was inadequate.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  17. Dec 8, 2012 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    In the Atkins diet, most carbs are supposed to come from veggies. The total of all carbs during the induction phase are supposed to be limited to 25 grams per day. And the induction phase is typically short lived - only a few weeks. I don't understand your point here. The induction phase is only intended to induce ketosis. And it isn't even considered to be absolutely necessary, but the effects are indeed amazing! I stayed ketogenic for over six months [two periods of three-months each] and I was shedding weight so fast that my wife was freaking out.
  18. Dec 8, 2012 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    This is pretty much my program - high protein, high fat [<30% being saturated fats], less than 50 grams carbs per day typically. Not only does it result in good glycemic control, my sensitivity to carbs has decreased significantly. I was told that I could "retrain" my pancreas but took that as just more hype until I actually saw the difference. My sensitivity had reached such a level that just one glass of milk could throw me into a low blood sugar crisis. Now, on those days when I allow myself some slack, I can consume many more carbs than before but never experience a crisis.

    The one exception to this was beer; I presume because maltose has a higher glycemic index than does glucose! It only took three beers spead out over five days to ruin an entire Saturday for me.
  19. Dec 8, 2012 #18
    I already said the Atkins diet and other low carb diets seem to be effective in treating obesity. My arguments are directed toward the claims that it can be a lifestyle that would increase longevity. The case of non-diabetic ketoacidosis described in post 15 occurred after 4 years on a low carb diet.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  20. Dec 8, 2012 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    That is a Atkins on steroids. And I didn't see anything about her caloric intake, her nutrients, her fluids intake, or the nature of her diet. She wasn't necessarily following any diet but just severely resticting her carb intake. For example, it is considered critical that one consume plenty of fluids. They did indicate that she needed fluids. So it isn't obvious to me at all that this is reprsentitive of a balanced ketogenic diet.
  21. Dec 9, 2012 #20
    As I said I'm relatively agnostic about this stuff but there are a number of papers on this topic. You might want to have a look at these and the references listed there:

    Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism

    Ketogenic diets for weight loss: A review of their principles, safety and efficacy
    http://www.sochob.cl/pdf/obesidad_a...w of their principles safety and efficacy.pdf

    Metabolic effects of the Very-low-Carbohydrate diets: misunderstood "villains" of human metabolism
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
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