Sunday, April 05, 2009

Starving Fat People

My sister once claimed that she still put on weight even if she ate only 300 calories a day. On the face of it this claims seems absurd as a body generally needs around 80 calories an hour just for base metabolism burn.

However lately I have been thinking about this and pondering if inside every obese person is a skinny person. You would think that with a high energy input and constant weight lifting exercise achieved by just standing up and walking around that a fat person stripped of their fat would be a fine example of a fit person. Yet this is generally not the case. It might be with a young person but most obese people huff and wheeze when doing any physical activity and they look to be in poor health with poor skin etc.

Maybe an obese person is in some way damaged. Instead of food entering their system to be used for energy it is instead stored as fat leaving the body deprived of energy and consequently weak and feeble. Something has happened to the mechanism that controls weight. Perhaps the onslaught of a massive ingestion of sugars over years has broken the metabolism. What is known as metabolic syndrome.

For a fit and healthy person it should be extremely hard to gain weight. I think such a person who regularly over-eats meat, vegetables, root starches and occasional fruit will never become obese. The body has its own mechanisms for governing weight and when fed a diet of natural food the appetite will be suppressed at the right time, metabolism will increase or energy will simply be expelled. That’s with a healthy functioning metabolism. You will notice that animals in their natural habitat respond to a surplus of food not by becoming obese but by increasing in numbers. You never see obese wild animals.

So fat people could indeed be starving. Years of feeding themselves energy rich yet nutrient poor food has over loaded their systems to such an extent that even if they eat healthy food only they may still find it difficult to lose weight. Food is not metabolised correctly and the energy is stored as fat and the system responds by increasing appetite even if they over eat. The starving person inside all that blubber really does need more food because it is being diverted to the fat cells and not being released when needed. Maybe it has never had any practise at being released because the body has experienced an energy surplus for every day of its life. Dieting could possibly exacerbate the situation by putting an already damaged body into starvation mode and so holding onto even more energy and lowering metabolism. There is some sense to having one day a week where you consciously over eat although preferably healthy food – maybe heaps of starchy vegetables with butter.

The breakdown of the metabolism may also be a consequence of aging. Most people seem to gain weight as they age even if they appear to eat less than they did when they were younger. I noticed in myself that I only started to gain weight rapidly when I reached 40. Before that I could munch on chocolate, bread and cake and stay stable but now my weight shoots up as soon as I fall off the wagon.

So spare a thought for the sad plight of the starving fat person.


John Carlisle said...

The starving fat person. Good thought. I've read this elsewhere and I'm sure there's truth in it. One major issue, I feel, is simply ignorance -or it could be resignation. I cannot believe the relationship between quantity is really unknown, but maybe that between starch (which is ubiquitous), sugar, surplus energy and then fat. A simple starch test using iodine is very revealing.

AngloAmerikan said...


I must investigate the iodine test thing as I haven't read about that. What complicates matters is that all people are a bit different and at different stages in their lives. What may work at twenty may not work at forty. The smart thing would be to tailor a diet according to your own fitness/age/weight/metabolic health level. Different people may have different reactions to the modern environment too with its numerous toxins.

Official guidelines such as the classic food pyramid have also done a lot of damage by promoting refined starches as a health food. The sheer ubquity of sugars is also astounding now. Stand at a supermarket checkout or gas station counter and look at all the sweets, cookies and chocolate bars on sale.
Most people just don't think about the consequences of eating this stuff until it is too late as it has a habit of sneaking up on you.