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September 28, 2016

Why do some of us get fat and others don’t

by Helene van den Berg

I, me and my fat, Part 8 and my fat, Part 3

IMPORTANT FACTORS in why some of us get fat and others don’t:

If insulin makes us fat, why does it make only some of us fat?. 

  • Genetic predisposition to being fat: insulin partitions a disproportionate amount of the calories  into storage as fat, rather than use for energy by the muscles; as you get fatter , you have less energy for physical activity and become more sedentary. Genetic predisposition to being lean: a disproportionate amount of the calories are burned as fuel, with little stored, you have plenty of energy for physical activity and you’ll eat in moderation e.g. the skinny marathoners.
  • Insulin resistance or your cells degree of sensitivity to insulin, plays an important role in why you get fat. If cells become resistant to insulin, more insulin is required to keep blood sugar levels under control. Now your pancreas secrete more insulin, which causes more insulin resistance…a vicious cycle!. In the meantime, the insulin works to make you fatter by storing calories as fat.   
  • Cell respond differently to insulin is also an important factor. Fat cells, muscle cells and liver cells don’t all become insulin resistant at the same time, to the same extent or in the same way e.g. if your muscle cells are insulin sensitive, (compared to the fat cells), then the muscle tissue will store more glucose as glycogen and burn more fuel, making you lean and physically active. If your muscle cells are insensitive to insulin (insulin resistant), compared with your fat cells, then your fat tissue will receive a disproportionate share of the glucose you consume, making you fat and sedentary. The cell response to insulin, also differs from person to person and also change with time, in the same person. As you get older, your muscle cells (not really the fat cells) become more insulin resistant. With age more calories are diverted into fat and when people reach their middle age, they find it very hard to remain lean. Due to these elevated insulin levels/insulin resistance (cause), metabolic disturbances follow (effect) : higher blood pressure, higher triglyceride levels, LDL goes up, HDL goes down etc.  

You don’t get fat , because your metabolism slows; your  metabolism slows, because you are getting fat. (generate less energy, with it being drained into the fat tissue, and the metabolism slows down). 


Fat parents born fat children, due to:

  • genetic control of insulin secretion.
  • enzymes response to insulin.
  • Insulin resistance – how and when we become insulin resistant.
  • Child is born with more insulin secreting cells – the higher the blood sugar in the mother, the more glucose her child gets in her womb. The child is born with more insulin-secreting cells. Therefore, the child is born with more fat, over-secreting insulin and become insulin-resistant itself, when it gets older. The child is predisposed to get fat, as it ages. 

Fatter mothers have fatter babies and fatter babies become fatter mothers…where does it stop?. Our children may pay a price, and their children, and every successive generation….

We have more than our own health to consider, when we get fat!!


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