Putting on weight without the help of insulin

I have discovered that for me, at least, eating too much fat on a low carb diet, still makes me gain weight. This seems to contradict the information given by Dr Atkins and by Zoe Harcombe, that if you keep insulin levels low by eating no sugar or starchy foods, it is impossible to gain fat. Zoe Harcombe states that the only way fat can be stored is with the help of insulin.

I was curious to understand how I could have gained weight, so I did some more research. It turns out that there is a substance called Acylation Stimulating Protein (ASP), which occurs alongside insulin. ASP can actually cause fat to be stored without the aid of insulin (proved in vitro) but it may call on insulin in the normal course of events. Of course there is always some insulin present in our systems unless we are diabetic. ASP levels rise when high levels of fat are eaten, and in people who have been overweight ASP levels are raised permanently. This could go some way to explaining how people with a weight problem are stuck with it for life.

This is a link to part of the research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1885258?ordinalpos=16&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Thanks to Martin Levac and KJF on the low carbers forum http://forum.lowcarber.org/ for pointing me in the right direction

2 thoughts on “Putting on weight without the help of insulin”

  1. Hi Sue, thanks for your thoughts about the Harcombe Diet. I read them with interest as I have started the diet, courtesy of Phase 1 and 2 being published in She Magazine. However am awaiting the book to arrive to I am slighly dubious about the scientific basis for the diet and whether I should have started it at all. After Day 1 I developed a headache which cam back the next day and woudn’t budge despite numerous paracetamol/iburprofen. I subsequently changed my routine and had carbs for breakfast which seemed to alleviate the headache (or maybe just was coming out of withdrawal). Am now on Day 4 and starting to feel much better and feel thinner, although my scales are notoriously inaccurate and its dificult to gauge exact weight loss. However I am worried about possible regain of weight once I start eating fruit and skimmed milk again which are the two things I miss the most.
    Anyway thanks again for all your research, it was interesting to read your coments and you seem to know what your talking about! Regards Sue

  2. Hi Sue,

    Thanks for your comments

    I think the science is pretty spot on. I have been reading a huge tome called Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. He drills down into historical and modern scientific research into why Western populations continue to become more and more obese despite the fact that we now eat more ‘healthily’ than ever before. He goes right back to the original research and the first documented slimming regimes. His conclusion seems to be (and I am only half way through) that we eat too much processed carbohydrate i.e. white flour, sugars of all descriptions, white pasta and polished (not brown) rice. He says that these products are too easy for the body to digest and result in high levels of insulin being produced. Insulin is what makes us store fat and so the body just this. After a while our bodies can’t cope with the abnormally high insulin and many people become ‘Insulin Resistant’ and eventually Diabetic.

    The answer, as far as I can make out, is to cut the carbs out, reduce the cravings, get control of our appetites and then – never eat refined carbs again.

    Zoe Harcombe has identified the three problems that make us crave carbs: Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar that causes wobbly knees and shaky hands and an immediate need to binge-eat), Candida, a good bacteria in the gut that can take over and become bad; it feeds off the sugar/starch, and lastly, food intolerance. The latter is difficult to identify because you may have it and have no outward signs. If you find you introduce something back into your diet, like dairy or fruit and you immediately stop losing weight then you may have a food intolerance. Just stop eating the food and see what happens. You will probably be able to continue eating a bit of the food you are intolerant to but you will need to limit it strictly.

    I can’t see a bit of skimmed milk doing too much harm but watch the carbs as skimmed milk is higher in carbs than full fat milk.

    A `lot of Zoe’s book is about healthy eating in general and not all about weight loss, unfortunately it’s difficult to identify one from the other. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good diet, just that if you hit a stall, it’s difficult to know where to make the adjustments.

    There’s a fantastic forum called http://forum.lowcarber.org/ where you will find plenty of people to support and advise you – sometimes too many. There’s also a Facebook group for Harcombe where you may find some support. If you’re interested in the science I can recommend the Taubes book and also Atkins Diet Revolution.

    I should imagine your headaches were withdrawal symptoms and as they have now gone I wouldn’t worry too much about them. The body does take a lot of adjustment when blood sugar gets lower. I had palpitations and was freezing cold until I found I needed magnesium. All is now well with me and I have lost a stone – albeit not entirely thanks to the Harcombe diet. My blood pressure has dropped significantly and my only slight concern is that my heart rate is a little faster than it used to be, but I think time will put that right.

    Good luck.

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