9

votes

Is being fat unhealthy?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 21, 2012 at 7:30 PM

OK, so at first glance the answer is "yes, of course it is", but since learning more about paleo I've started questioning EVERYTHING that common medical wisdom offers. This has led me to a couple of questions about being overweight, and fatness in general 1) Would it be possible to get very "fat" on a standard paleo diet? I'm guessing yes.?? 2) Is being overweight a health risk on its own, or are the health risks to do with the awful food consumed? Would a long-term paleo follower who is still overweight have the same health issues and risks?

I'm talking about obviously "fat" bodies by anyone's definition. We all know about the elite athletes with a BMI of 30, but I'm wondering about the majority of bodies I see at the mall.??

8e323afb2e0ba3d104091f7e47815b40

(450)

on December 22, 2012
at 10:24 AM

Thanks guys! Yes, the more I learn the more I realize I don't know. Sometimes I (almost) wish I could go back to a low-fat-whole-grain-diet-soda lifestyle. Much less thought required.

8e323afb2e0ba3d104091f7e47815b40

(450)

on December 22, 2012
at 10:22 AM

Thank you, yes this is the way I'm beginning to think about it.

8e323afb2e0ba3d104091f7e47815b40

(450)

on December 22, 2012
at 10:20 AM

Your blog post was very interesting. I had never thought about the idea that overweight people would be less likely to seek out health care, but it makes such sense.

532cfd279d793e8fcc23b9f6d91dde5c

(1981)

on December 21, 2012
at 10:56 PM

Loving this conversation. Good question!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 21, 2012
at 10:40 PM

Nemesis–true, the lean mass thing is important. I think is helps explain why overweight people frequently have increased longevity relative to so called normal weight people.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on December 21, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Fat people tend to have more muscle too (it's just not visible), just because it takes so much more effort to move their bulk around than it does for a thin person. So there's that...

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 21, 2012
at 09:15 PM

+1 for questioning EVERYTHING, even things that seem like common sense.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 21, 2012
at 09:15 PM

Agreed with Mscott.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 21, 2012
at 08:57 PM

In fact, people have said that overweight people are, in an odd way, the "lucky" ones -- they have visible proof that something's not right in their bodies. It's easy for lean/"normal weight" people not to ever connect their illnesses with diet because "they're not fat." An overweight non-smoker who exercises regularly is probably healthier than a "thin" smoker who manages to stay thin despite a steady fast food diet and no exercise. (Let's face it...we all know someone like that!)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 21, 2012
at 08:54 PM

Agree...I think it's more like somewhat poor health (or at the very least, sub-optimal health) and obesity go hand-in-hand for exactly the reasons you & Paul describe -- there are common factors underlying both obesity/overweight and poor health. But this doesn't mean that the opposite is true -- that *not* being overweight automatically implies someone's in good health. We all know many examples of that. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's even T2 diabetes -- lots of thinner people with those conditions. So I don't think that being fat *causes* poor health. It's a "symptom," if you will.

  • 8e323afb2e0ba3d104091f7e47815b40

    asked by

    (450)
  • Views
    1.6K
  • Last Activity
    1405D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

5 Answers

9
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 21, 2012
at 07:46 PM

I left a comment over at the perfect health diet website at one point and Paul's had an interesting response that seems pretty applicable to this question:

I think many of the same factors cause obesity and poor health. To fix your health you have to remove these factors, and to normalize weight you have to remove these factors. Any effective program of weight normalization will improve health, and any lifestyle or diet that causes obesity will generally harm health.

Obesity is a protective response of the body, so I wouldn???t say obesity per se promotes poor health, but everything that brings about obesity does harm health, so maybe the best phrasing is ???obesogenesis promotes poor health.???

I don't know for sure, but lately I'm inclined towards this line of thinking.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 21, 2012
at 08:54 PM

Agree...I think it's more like somewhat poor health (or at the very least, sub-optimal health) and obesity go hand-in-hand for exactly the reasons you & Paul describe -- there are common factors underlying both obesity/overweight and poor health. But this doesn't mean that the opposite is true -- that *not* being overweight automatically implies someone's in good health. We all know many examples of that. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's even T2 diabetes -- lots of thinner people with those conditions. So I don't think that being fat *causes* poor health. It's a "symptom," if you will.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 21, 2012
at 10:40 PM

Nemesis–true, the lean mass thing is important. I think is helps explain why overweight people frequently have increased longevity relative to so called normal weight people.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 21, 2012
at 09:15 PM

Agreed with Mscott.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on December 21, 2012
at 08:57 PM

In fact, people have said that overweight people are, in an odd way, the "lucky" ones -- they have visible proof that something's not right in their bodies. It's easy for lean/"normal weight" people not to ever connect their illnesses with diet because "they're not fat." An overweight non-smoker who exercises regularly is probably healthier than a "thin" smoker who manages to stay thin despite a steady fast food diet and no exercise. (Let's face it...we all know someone like that!)

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on December 21, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Fat people tend to have more muscle too (it's just not visible), just because it takes so much more effort to move their bulk around than it does for a thin person. So there's that...

8e323afb2e0ba3d104091f7e47815b40

(450)

on December 22, 2012
at 10:22 AM

Thank you, yes this is the way I'm beginning to think about it.

2
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on December 22, 2012
at 02:27 PM

To add to the other answers, fat is metabolically active, and part of your endocrine system, and behaves just like another organ. Fat produces several signaling hormones/proteins, and just as we can develop insulin resistance, we can to leptin, which tells our brain how much fat we have and to stop eating. It also produces some inflammatory cytokines, which can spiral our health down the tubes.

In men, too much fat is also dangerous because it tends to aromatize (nothing to do with odors, but rather this is verb form of an enzyme called aromatase) testosterone into estradiol, which is a form of estrogen, so it prevents us from gaining muscle, and may cause feminization. The lower our testosterone levels, the harder it is to gain muscle, so the harder it is to burn off fat.

You can think of our organs as in both cooperation and in competition, but unlike organs such as the heart, liver, or kidneys, fat is distributed between organs (visceral), and under our skin (subcutaneous), and can even crowd out and invade other organs (though problems such as fatty liver start in the liver due to too high fructose consumption.)

The signals that our organ of fat produces are meant to preserve its survival, which is why its hard to get rid of.

One of the more interesting functions it has is a repository for toxins. When we process toxins, if our livers can render them harmless and wrap them in fats to be excreted, everything's fine. If it can't keep up with the toxin load, our bodies can excrete them through our skin, which cause issues such as acne or rashes. One famous case is when this Ukrainian Candidate Yushchenko was poisoned by his opponents in an attempt to assasinate him. You can see in the photo the damage to his skin.

The final place is unfortunately within our fat cells. When this happens, as you start to burn fat, toxins are released, and our body stops using fat stores until it has no choice. But this comes at a high price and you may experience all sorts of issues such as a Herxheimer like reaction, skin rashes, and so on, so you'll need to be careful and use things like activated charcoal, and ingest a lot of fat to make it possible for your gut/liver to wrap these toxins in a layer of fat to render them harmless as they get excreted.

It's not so much that fat is always bad for us, but rather a) it has its own agenda to survive, as does the rest of the body, and b) it can store toxins that you can't detox fast enough and releasing the fat stores is dangerous, so your efforts to lose fat meet with resistance.

IMO, one of the best things for this is to try a bulletproof rapid weight loss fast, but only do it for a few short days at a time, or try it as an alternate day fast. Note the use of activated charcoal and liposomal glutathione, L-Glutamine, as well as minerals and seasalt. The BCAA is to prevent muscle loss. While the grassfed butter/coconut oil (or MCT oil) can be used for energy, it has a second purpose: to help wrap up toxins in a layer of fat for excretion.

I wouldn't go too hard on this protocol for too long as you can easily get into chronic cortisol release which will paradoxically also prevent fat loss.

There may be other things you can do to detox, but I'd avoid the usual grapefruit/olive oil style "detox" protocols because those are meant to elicit a large bile excretion, along with steatorrhea (explosive diarrhea caused by too much fat consumption), which isn't what you need here. Infact, you'll need all your bile and then some to process all the fat you consume, hence the Betaine HCL caps (though, I'd rather use one that contains ox-bile, or at least lipase.)

I'm trying this now, but not as 5 days in a row, but rather, alternate day fasts. I already see a few red spots on my skin and a bit of body acne so it's obviously working, though I probably need to raise the activated charcoal intake. (I'm down to 20% fat, though was able to get as low as 18% last year, after which I hit a wall. My goal is 10%-15%, don't care whether I see my abs or not, just want to get rid of the stuff around the belly button.)

1
75d65450b6ff0be7b969fb321f1200ac

(2506)

on December 21, 2012
at 09:36 PM

What is normal weight? BMI is a very rough gauge. I think most folks will agree that percentage body fat is a much better marker. Competitive athletes are overweight in terms of BMI but are not overweight ("fat") when judged by percentage body fat.

I've only been on the paleo diet for several months but it seems to me that the diet will hold off people from overeating ... I do not overindulge at all. In the old days I would pig out on comfort food (pasta, bread, ice cream, ...). Processed foods, with all that salt and sugar, make us want to overeat. Wholesome paleo foods do not do this, in my experience.

_Lazza

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on December 22, 2012
at 01:46 PM

Yes, it's completely possible to get fat eating paleo. Folks are putting on weight all the time. The question now is: is this fat bad and health harming? I'm not so sure of that. There are obese folks who have completely normal health markers, they are the exception not the rule, but they do exist. Now if one ate a diet that optimized health but simply did so in energy excess and gained weight, would the necessarily have poor health markers? I doubt it. Maybe some of them would, but I would guess than many wouldn't have conditions that plague obese folks, like CVD, diabetes, etc...

0
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on December 21, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Re 1) I think it's technically possible to get very fat on a 'standard' paleo diet, but it's likely much, much harder to do than it is on SAD. But if your version of 'standard' paleo includes Kurt Harris' "candy cigarettes" (i.e., paleo versions of SAD foods like paleo cake) though, it's probably easier.

Re 2) well there's fat and there's fat. Subcutaneous fat is different from visceral fat. The latter tends to be linked more clearly with metabolic markers for health issues than the former. In either case, fat tissue tends not to be benign (see adipokines), but what really isn't clear is which is more problematic wrt health: the lifestyle factors that likely contribute significantly to making us fat and sick (an inflammatory diet, lack of the right kinds of exercise, way too much stress, lack of sleep etc) or the fat tissue itself.

And I think you also have to give serious consideration to how much of the link between fat and poor health is related to the side effects of the stigma of being fat. I have an old blog post about this if you're interested.

8e323afb2e0ba3d104091f7e47815b40

(450)

on December 22, 2012
at 10:20 AM

Your blog post was very interesting. I had never thought about the idea that overweight people would be less likely to seek out health care, but it makes such sense.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!