Skip to content

September 22, 2016

Fat Accumulation

by Helene van den Berg

I, me and my fat, Part 1


We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic!. Just over 50 years ago one in every nine Americans were obese; today it is one in every three; two in every three are now overweight!. Adolescents and children are fatter, even babies are born fatter!. Obesity and especially type 2 diabetes, are closely linked. Many obese people become diabetic. In fact, obesity and overweight are associated with every chronic disease like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia and asthma. 

The fault lies with the medical authorities in the mid-1990’s, who believe that excess fat is caused by consuming excess calories, the so called calories-in/calories-out theory of adiposity. They blamed it on overeating and/or sedentary behavior. We are either gluttons or slothful!.If this was true, then why can’t we solve the problem of overweight and obesity by eating less and moving more?. Instead of blaming it on weakness of character, we should be looking at human biology. In his book, “Why we get fat”, Gary Taubes stated that obesity is not a disorder of energy balance (eating too much), but much more a disorder of EXCESS FAT ACCUMULATION. 


There are TWO FACTORS that will determine how much fat we accumulate – both of them are determined by the hormone INSULIN: 

  • when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue; when levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn fat for fuel.
  • Our insulin levels are effectively determined by the carbohydrates we eat – the more refined and sweeter they are, the more insulin we will ultimately secrete.

Carbohydrate, drives the insulin, which drives the fat !!! 

Hormones, enzymes and growth factors regulate our fat tissue. We do not get fat because we overeat; we get fat because the carbohydrates in our diet makes us fat. Obesity is ultimately the result of hormonal imbalance – not  calories – and specifically, the stimulation of insulin secretion, caused by eating refined carbohydrates ( pasta, bread, high-fructose corn syrup, liquid carbohydrates (sodas, beers, fruit juices), sugars (sucrose e.g. table sugar, sweets) and starchy vegetables (potatoes). 

These carbohydrates make us fat and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier and they make us sedentary. 

How can I lose excess fat or remain lean?. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar and starchy vegetables!!….



The poorer we are, the fatter we are likely to be. During the Great Depression it was noted that there were really fat children. How is that possible?. Consider the Pima, a native American tribe in Arizona: during the 1840-50’s the Pima had been very extraordinary hunters and farmers and were in fine health. Then trading posts were opened in the Pima reservation and the Pima bought sugar, coffee and canned goods, replacing their traditional foodstuffs. Between 1901 and 1905 anthropologists commented on how fat the Pima women were (Frank Russel’s account of “Fat Louisa”). Today the Pima may have the highest incidence of obesity and diabetes in the US… not because of prosperity, but they are an example of what happens when a traditional culture is exposed to the toxic environment of modern America!. Like the Pima, it’s possible to become fat when you’re poor, hardworking and even underfed. Other examples are: the Zulu population in the 1960’s in Durban, South Africa, where 40% of the women in their forties are obese, weighing an average of about 75 kilograms, as well as the slum dwellers in Chile. In the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the waiting room of a clinic is filled with overweight mothers holding thin, undernourished, stunted young children in their arms, not because the mothers starve their children so that they themselves can overeat.

Underweight and overweight coexist ( in the same population and even in the same families). 



If overeating is not a cause for obesity, this suggests that undereating isn’t a cure!.

To prescribe low-calorie diets for obese and overweight patients, leads to temporary weight loss – the few kilograms lost in the first six months, are regained within a year. Low-calorie diets/fasts require us not only to semi- starve ourselves for a few months, but even indefinitely, if we are to maintain the required weight loss. 

A diet has to be a lifestyle program – something we can follow for life. 



Exercise is healthy for body , mind and spirit, but it will NOT help you to lose weight.


The evidence shows, that with an increase of energy expenditure (exercising), you are more hungry and eat more. When you restrict your food intake (diet), your body compensates by reducing the energy expenditure (less active and cells use less energy), thereby limiting weight loss. Once the food restriction/diet ends, you will eat more, to get back to your earlier weight.

The body’s increased energy uptake (hungrier, eat more) compensates for it’s increased energy expenditure (exercise)!. 

When you are overweight, you tend to be sedentary, because the fuel is partitioned into your fat tissue and you lack the energy to exercise. Once you avoid carbohydrates and start burning your own fat for fuel, THEN you would have the energy to be physically active. 



Health experts agree weight gain is a gradual process. A pound /500g of fat,  contains about 3500 calories worth of energy. Therefore, losing a pound a week, we have to eat 500 calories a day less.

WEIGHT LOSS = 500 calories/day less x 7 days = eating 3500 calories a week less, to lose 1 pd/wk.

By eating only 20 calories /day more, we accumulate 2 excess pounds (1 kg) of fat /year or 7000 calories stored as fat /yr!!.  

WEIGHT GAIN =  20 calories/day more x 365 days/yr = 7000 calories– two pounds of excess fat per year.



 Where on our bodies we get fat and when it happens, are important considerations. Steatopygia, the prominent fat deposits of the buttocks on African women (sign of beauty), is a genetic trait, not the product of overeating or sedentary behavior!. If your parents are fat, it’s far more likely you will be fat, compared to someone whose parents are lean – obesity has a large genetic component!. Another example is a stocky Aberdeen Angus, compared to a lean Jersey cow. Their genes determine how they partition the calories they consume into protein and fat in the muscles or into milk. 

Your  genes determine what you do with the calories consumed !

Progressive lipodystrophy is a disorder of fat accumulation e.g. where a five feet four woman, weighing 185 pounds, has virtually all her body fat located below her waist (extreme lean upper body). 


HIV-related dystrophy, are caused by people taking anti-retroviral drugs. They get double chins and “camel humps” (fat formation on the upper back), their breasts enlarge (even in men) and they have a funny potbelly – which has nothing to do with how much they ate or exercised.  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: