Time to devour the final portion of our weight loss information. Fructose! An apple a day will keep the doctor away, am I right?! Uhhhh, that depends. If you’re already suffering from NAFLD, NASH, or insulin resistance at any level, then I say ditch the fruit. Let’s get deeper into the science so we can understand why this is probably true.
In the first part of this we talked about insulin resistance starting at the muscle. This diagnosis is being made in children and college age young adults which is oh so telling of our older population’s current health. Chances are if you’re reading this then you probably have this happening in your muscle, or for those who have been harboring this issue chronically overtime, it’s likely in your liver. I want to start with explaining it at the muscle since this is where it all begins.
When you partake in the typical mixed macro (fat and carbs) American diet and if you’re not active you’ll have a storage crisis for both fat (fatty acids-triglycerides) and glucose. The muscle is the storage tank for glucose (glycogen) and fat cells should be storing your lipids. When you’re exercising you’ll burn glucose in the blood stream and then releasing glycogen from the muscle cell when needed. For lower intensity portions of your workout you’ll be burning fatty acids out of circulation, and dip into the storage tanks if necessary. When this happens you’re making room for the next meals potential fuel (fat and glucose). This is where the value of exercise is so relative. The more muscle you have the more storage potential you have for that glucose you consume. The more you exercise the more you’ll use your fat rather than having it sitting around in storage.
When you stop this process from happening by being sedentary you’ll likely face a major storage crisis. You’re born with a certain amount of fat cells and without purposeful activity you’ll quickly over fill these cells, and for some you’ll start making new cells. Making new cells over some time will end in morbid obesity. If you don’t make new cells then you’ll start converting it into visceral/ectopic (fat on and in organs). This is the belly that your kids point out on grandpa in a very non-discreet manner. This is the dangerous fat. The jiggly subcutaneous fat that’s on your belly is the stuff that’s perfectly fine to have, even healthy (that’s the storage tanks I was talking about). With visceral fat you better believe you’re already insulin resistant at the muscle, portal vein, and most likely the liver. You’re in trouble!
Shit, I get distracted with the details. Anyways, back to the muscles. When you have this abundance of glucose and fatty acids (TG) without anywhere to go, the first cell that they start to infiltrate is the muscle cells (remember home of your glucose storage tank), and this fat intrusion will start to cause dysfunction (insulin resistance) with how the cell disperses, burns, and collects glucose/glycogen. The outcome is insulin resistance and with this dysfunction glucose uptake into the storage tanks will be very limited. The glucose must go somewhere (or not, diabetes IS the or not). This will enter the portal vein (we’re going to skip this part due to the technical nature) but then will start infiltrating the liver.
The liver is like the UPS hub that receives a lot of packages. It’s taking them in and sending them out. It’s processing incoming and outgoing packages, and will even store packages that have been misplaced/lost. UPS is always busy but you start sending 10,000 new packages all at once, you’ll no doubt end up with very grumpy employees and delivery drivers (liver cells). The whole system is interrupted and everything slows down. You’re pissed because your package is late, the drivers (transport proteins) are pissed because it’s costing them time and money, and the corporate dicks (your brain) are demanding more from all of you. This is what’s happening to your liver with this sudden increase in glucose and fatty acids. The system is overrun and the easiest thing to do is just throw some of the lost packages aside and keep moving. These packages represent the glucose that is converted into Triglycerides and stored inside of your organs. People aren’t getting their packages and now everyone’s unhappy (systemic inflammation). You’ve completely disrupting an organ that has some of the most important functions within your entire complex system. You’re now going to have things like endocrine disruptions (PCOS), Coronary Heart Disease, accelerated Cancer, and so much more. Insulin resistance IS killing you!
Here’s the part where high fructose is making the entire situation worse, and also why that apple might not be your savior. Fructose is treated differently within your body. Its chemical makeup forces it to go to the liver for processing before entering circulation. Send fructose to an over worked organ is just adding to the chaos. High fructose corn syrup is in nearly all processed food, it’s cheap to make and cheap to buy. If you eating anything from a package then chances are you’re just screwing up UPS’s mojo again. With your likely inflamed body already dealing with the PUFA’s overabundance, and now you want to add this insult to the equation. You just doubled down on your negative health consequences, and you’re starting to spiral out of control. We can do better and I know it’s difficult to read my longwinded rants, but this needs to be put out there.
Finally, we can get to how this is actually a weight loss tip (I was starting to wonder myself if I would ever get there). If you’re even at the level of some fat intrusion in your muscle causing some level of insulin resistance, then you’re not storing the glucose in the right place. How are you ever going to lose fat when glucose is bypassing its home and then being stored as a triglyceride for later use. You won’t! You will struggle to lose the weight and you’ll get frustrated and turn to a super low-calorie diet. In time lose the muscle that was your only potential saving grace, you’re now the yo-yo dieter. Here’s the secret nobody’s been telling you! You have to address the muscle/liver insulin resistance first before you can effectively lose any weight. Do whatever it takes to spare your muscle so when the tanks are ready to be filled, you can do just that.
Low carb and fasting strategies are going to be the way to start to recover and re-sensitize your cells. Get moving with any type of exercise (doesn’t have to be drastic) and start to get your fuel sources to move and be utilized. The low carb diet or carb restriction will take the glucose out of the equation and allow the cells to have a reprieve from the excess glucose and within a relatively short period of time you’ll receive that long-lost package that UPS just threw aside (Sorry UPS, should have used USPS as an example, they’ve earned it). We’ll go over fasting strategies in another post, since it needs to have some thought behind its planning. This is the time to start asking questions. I know it’s a lot to take in, but know that this is the truth.