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Science Confirms Sugar the Culprit for Weight Gain
For decades, scientists thought that a simple formula of calories-in, calories-out was the key to weight loss success. Recent studies have shown that there is much more to weight loss than that. A high dose of sugar in your daily diet can contribute to weight loss in dangerous ways. Find out more below.
Sugar: it’s in almost everything that we eat, but it might be the worst possible thing to put inside your body. Scientists and health professionals have known for years that sugar is bad for you, but recent studies have revealed just how bad sugar actually is and what is does to the detriment of your body.
Conventional wisdom says that a healthy diet is little more than calories consumed versus calories burned, but what really causes extreme weight gain may surprise you. According to recent research, the reason that so many individuals in modern society are severely overweight is due to leptin resistance.
Leptin is a hormone that is secreted by fat cells in the body that tell you that you are full. When you weigh more, you produce more leptin, which should ordinarily cause you to eat less. However, an increase of sugar in the diet can lead to leptin resistance, which means you can no longer tell if you are full or not. This leads to even more weight gain, overeating, and obesity.
Both insulin and leptin are created because of sugar. Eating a lot of sugar makes you gain fat quickly, which circulates leptin in the blood. High levels of blood sugar lead to high levels of insulin in the body which work to absorb the sugar. Obesity can lead to a resistance to insulin, which is how type 2 diabetes occurs. Resistance to leptin and insulin are both highly damaging to the body and your weight.
Leptin and insulin are signaling hormones. These hormones signal the body to remove unwanted and unnecessary sugar from the body. However, if your body always signals to remove unwanted sugar from the body, eventually, the body starts to ignore the signal to focus on something else. This causes the hormones to have to work harder to get noticed. This is how a resistance to the hormones form.
For both hormones, your body continues to produce higher and higher amounts of lepin and insulin, which eventually causes your body to ignore the presence of the hormones because there is so much in the body. Resistance to signaling hormones (such as insulin or leptin) works essentially like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” If he’s screaming all the time, after awhile people start to ignore him. He has to keep screaming louder to get anybody to listen to him the next time.
The trouble happens when the signals are ignored. If your body ignores one signal, than it pays attention to another. In the case of leptin resistance, your body pays attention to the hormone ghrelin (which is produced when the body is hungry or starving). Your body believes it is hungry all the time, which causes the body to move fat to storage, rather than eliminating excess fat. This can quickly lead to obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, fertility problems, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Sugar is a fast form of energy. Your body likes to use sugar because it is easily converted into energy. Think about how you crave sweets during the mid-afternoon energy slump after an early morning. Your body can handle a small amount of sugar. The trouble occurs due to our sugar-laden society. In the 1950s, researchers found that high levels of fat in food could contribute to weight gain and heart problems. Several subsequent studies in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s also had similar findings. This led to the low-fat craze of the 1980s through 2000s. In fact, the idea that a low-fat diet is the way to promote health still persists to this day.
Although a diet low in dietary fat can lead to a healthier body, the way that food manufactures addressed the problem has done more harm than good. When food manufacturers started to remove fat from foods, they realized that much of the flavor was also removed. In an effort to make food taste better, many manufacturers raised the level of sugar and carbohydrates (which converts to sugar in the body) in their foods. In essence, food manufacturers changed from offering items high in fat to offering items laden with sugar.
If you don’t believe that low fat foods have a higher sugar content, just look at the nutritional value of fat-free milk versus full-fat milk. The sugar content in fat-free milk is significantly higher.
When large quantities of sugar are added to the diet, the body is simply unable to process it all. A person’s body usually cannot process more than a few tablespoons of sugar at a time (a single 12 ounce soda has about 4 tablespoons of sugar). The body tries to get rid of excess sugar by moving it out of the body.
The body wants to move the sugar out of the blood, so it uses insulin to move sugar into the cells. When sugar enters a cell, it has to change from “current energy” to “potential energy.” Potential energy, is, you guessed it- fat.
Higher levels of fat lead to higher levels of leptin, which is supposed to trigger the body to stop eating. But the body will eventually ignore leptin signals if it continues to receive high levels of sugar daily.
A stressed lifestyle and lack of sleep can both contribute to this cycle by increasing cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released during times of stress, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.
Leptin was first discovered in 1995. Researchers were surprised to learn of the link between leptin and obesity. However, many subsequent studies have helped uncover the true power of the hidden hormone.
A 2002 study from the University of California set out to look at the role of fructose in obesity and leptin resistance. The study looked at animals given a high-fructose diet and found that animals can develop a resistance to leptin over time. The researchers theorized that a similar process can happen in humans.
In 2008, researchers from the University of Florida tested the combination of a high-fat, high-calorie, and high-fructose diet on rats. The researchers found that even without gaining any weight, high levels of fructose were associated with higher levels of leptin resistance. Rats with the high sugar diet also had much higher triglyceride levels, which is an indicator of high LDL cholesterol levels. The researchers then gave both groups of rats a diet similar to a typical American diet. The rats who ate the high-sugar diets gained weight faster and gained more weight than the rats who had not eaten sugar.
In 2011, researchers from the University of Florida tested the differences between a high fat-high fructose diet versus a high-fat sugar-free diet in rats. The researchers found that the sugar group gained weight faster and in larger quantities than the rats fed the sugar-free diet. The researchers theorized that fructose is the bioactive component that leads to leptin resistance.
Fruit offers many health benefits, but also contains high levels of fructose, which can lead to leptin resistance. Can eating fruit encourage weight gain? When eaten in a natural source (eating a whole apple, for example), fruit has some fructose, but it usually is not enough to cause problems with leptin.
However, a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2013 found that certain types of fruit, consumed in large amounts (like in fruit juices, smoothies, and “fruit-juice” snacks), can lead to a flood of fructose in the liver. When this happens, the body spends its time dealing with fructose and can ignore the beneficial ingredients in the fruit like vitamins and antioxidants. In the study, cantaloupe, oranges, and strawberries were the most likely to lead to fructose overload.
In essence, the study found that eating high amounts of sugar- from any source, can still lead to an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and a fatty liver.
Even though carbohydrates do not contain fructose, they contain high levels of glucose. Glucose can actually have similar effects on the body to fructose. In animal studies, high carbohydrate diets in rats leads to an increase in insulin production (and probably leptin, although that wasn’t studied). Extended diets high in carbohydrates could have similar results to an extended diet high in sugar.
Other studies have shown that a diet high in glucose causes animals to convert glucose into fructose in the liver. A 2013 study published in “Natural Communications” found that this process contributed to the development of metabolic syndrome in the animals studies. What does this mean for humans? When you want to remove excess sugar from your body to restore insulin and leptin sensitivity, make sure you count carbohydrates from bread, pasta, and rice as a source of sugar.
Since the modern American diet is so full of sugar, you are probably somewhat leptin resistant already. If you are more than a few pounds overweight, than you may be significantly resistant to the hormone. Luckily, there are a few ways you can restore sensitivity to this vital weight loss hormone:
Although you won’t have to eliminate sugar forever, when trying to restore leptin sensitivity, you should try to avoid it as much as possible (which will be harder than you think). All sources of sugar should be eliminated (anything that ends in “ose”), including syrups, sugar substitutes, fruit syrup, fruit juice, cane juice, beet sugar, and even honey. Avoid processed white carbs and white rice. Eating protein with your meal will help slow the release of glucose into the blood, which will help regulate your leptin production and sensitivity.
Stress and a lack of sleep contributes to the production of cortisol, which can lead to higher blood sugar levels. Sleep also helps your metabolism function properly.
Omega-3 fats are essential for a variety of the body’s systems, but for leptin signaling, they help heal cell walls and make it easier for your body to respond to hormone signals (like leptin and insulin).
Exercise helps burn excess fat and stimulates the mitochondria in your cells. Mitochondria produce energy in your body. Obesity and sugar lower the production of energy in the mitochondria, while exercise increases it. Weight-bearing exercises that stimulate the growth hormone are best as this will help your body burn fat and produce muscle.
Vitamin C and E: In a 2002 study conducted by Memorial University of Newfoundland, when rats supplemented with vitamin C and E, they were able to prevent developing fructose-induced hypertension.
Garcinia Cambogia: Studies show that garcinia cambogia can modulate blood fat levels and increase energy production and metabolism speed.
Horse Chestnut: Horse chestnut is an anti-inflammatory herb that can protect against some of the risks of obesity and free radical damage in the body.
Vitamin B6: This essential vitamin is used to produce energy in the body through the mitochondria in your cells.
The trouble with the commonly-used form of sugar in today’s world- fructose- is that it is the sugar that converts to fat faster than any other form of sugar. This leads to an increase in overweight individuals around the world. According to studies, when a person is obese, their body also converts some glucose to fructose as well. This means that the typical American diet is the perfect cocktail for creating fat, unhealthy people.
Obesity leads to all kinds of terrible illnesses and health problems. Just by cutting out most sugar from your diet, you can dramatically improve the health of your body and lose weight quickly because you will restore the leptin balance to your body which signals when you are full and should stop eating.
Want to lose weight fast? Removing sugar and adding leptin-supporting supplements to your diet may be your most effective weight loss method yet.
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Our fat burning pill, Exitor, combines natural ingredients to boost energy for extended periods while stimulating thermogenic activity to burn fat. For best results, use in conjuction with the paleo diet and crossfit (workout program).