Obesity is considered as a pathological state involving excess of body fat. Specialists in the field have been trying to establish the limit between what’s considered pathological or healthy for the last fifty years. The BMI (Body Mass Index) was established for convenience as the international method, in order to have a simple and unified system to determine whether a patient was overweight or obese.
The BMI formula
Apart from the unreliability of this method (there are documented cases of bodybuilders with BMI of 32, in other words, supposedly obese), BMI of over 25 is to be considered as overweight and 30 would be the benchmark for obesity.
Graph showing equivalences between BMI and metabolic state
Our experience shows us that it is far more precise to use an anthropometry in order to measure the patient’s percentage of body fat. However, it should be noted that this method is much more expensive and uncomfortable for the patient.
To understand how obesity is produced we should first review how fat is accumulated in the organism.
Participation of insulin (Source:Harvard University)
Basically, each time we consume glucose, it is metabolized to obtain the ATP (energy) that our body needs. If glucose consumption is higher than needed by the organism, then the excess is stored as fatty acids. Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, participates in the storage process. Here lies the key of the whole weight gain (or loss) issue.
If we include glucose in our diet too often, our body will store what’s not used as fat thanks to insulin. Another consequence is what’s known as metabolic syndrome, which happens when the mentioned hormone becomes unresponsive towards sugar peaks (insulin resistance). If we end up developing insulin resistance (remember, due to excessive glucose consumption), our chances of suffering type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other illnesses will multiply significantly.
So, knowing this, how to we avoid developing insulin resistance?
Well, basically doing two things:
First, reducing our consumption of carbohydrates, which are mainly made up of glucose. By eliminating them, we will reduce the amount of insulin needed to control the sugar rises. Also, we shall have to compensate the reduction of sugar-based energy by consuming healthy fats.
The second way to avoid insulin resistance is simply by exercising, preferably engaging in short and intense workouts.
Here we can see a common mistake amongst general public, who think exercise makes us slim down because of the calories we burn. In reality, the big advantage of physical activity is that it increases one’s sensitivity to insulin (up to 16 hours after the effort) and therefore prevents us from accumulating fat.
In our next article we will write about recommendations to lose weight and maintain cardiovascular health.
-Our body stores fat through the action of insulin
-Insulin is produced when consuming carbs
-An excessive consumption of carbohydrates leads to insulin resistance
-No physical exercise contributes to insulin resistance
-We can reduce the risk of suffering metabolic syndrome by consuming few carbs and doing short but intense exercise
-EXCESS CARBOHYDRATES + SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE= OBESITY