Cure of the Caveman (Or Why we Store Fat)

Obesity seems to spring from a simple cause: take in more calories than you need or burn, and you’ll store fat. Scientists are now exploring a variety of factors that could lead to or predispose one to storing fat more readily than the next person.

The call for comfort foods is a programming obtained when we were tykes, with ertain associations and habits form around certain foods. These are ‘foods’ many embrace to feel better. Secondly, studies have shown that external factors play a role as to how much we consume in one sitting. From the size of the plate (if it’s bigger we’ll eat more) to the type of music being played, many things can influence over-consumption.

Predisposition to varying degrees can influence the body to gain and hold on to weight versus losing it. Hormones known as homeostatic factors indicate whether we feel hungry of full. Gherlin, made in the stomach, helps to signal whether the body wants food. Leptin, secreted by fatty tissue, tells the brain it’s time to stop chowing down.

When we eat sugar, we release dopamine, a chemical involved in addiction. It signals pleasure. So, the yummier the food, the more dopamine one produces. Eventually, obese people become conditioned to get excited by merely the sight of yummy food. Interestingly, fatter people seem to have fever dopamine receptors. So: more excited, more consumption; less pleasure, need more yummy. The cycle is believed to come from simply overeating again and again. Leptin levels also seem to rise. But, the brain stops responding to the full signal. If you then start to lose weight, high leptin levels stop, signaling starvation, which makes the brain unhappy.

Let’s blame it on the caveman. Forced to eat whenever food was available, hungry or not. This caused efficient storing of surplus (fat) to survive. Over and over, our genes and brain adapted to these signals. Then over time we became super efficient at storing up fat for the lean times, which leads to this little biological snake. The fat storage programmed in the body will work hard to make sure you re-gain lost fat stores. Leptin levels drop while gherlin (I’m hungry!) signal increase. Studies show that even after one year of big time fat loss, these levels remain reversed.

This is why diets fail. It’s not just the signaling hormones and survivor genes, nor lack of will power due to the aforementioned. The evolutionary process has led to bodies that are designed against falling below a ‘minimum,’ but actually perpetuate gain. Those of the lower income stratus in America have climbed to the top of the obesity epidemic. The lighter money is, the more stress, therefore the more cortisol levels dip and dive, often causing sleep problems (more dip and dive) and these excessive cortisol levels assist in storing fat like energy.

Help is on the way, whatever the ‘trigger’ may be. “Plan-it Lean” will show you how to burn fat, built muscle, and stop cravings. Stay tuned!


About Deborah Arneson

Deborah Arneson holds a B.S. in Food Science, a M.S. in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed clinical nutritionist. A veteran in her field, she specializes in solving hormonal imbalances: increasing energy, focus, moods, eliminating anxiety, constipation and sleep problems though one on one nutrition counseling and Ayurvedic practices.