Read time: 4 minutes (but worth it)
I want to briefly comment on (or review, for many of you) the topic of Nutrient Partitioning and Repartitioning. This information is based on Gary Taubes’s seminal book Good Calories Bad Calories, and David Kessler’s The End of Overeating.
By now most of you understand that carbohydrates trigger insulin release. The more processed and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the magnitude of release. And with enough of these higher magnitude releases, chronic high blood level of insulin may result (hyperinsulinemia), leading to insulin resistance — which leaves your muscle and organ cells unable to accept consumed energy from your meals or utilize stored energy from your fat.
As if that isn’t enough, insulin also deposits consumed energy into fat cells (lipogenesis) and inhibits energy mobilization out of fat cells (lipolysis). In other words, insulin stuffs your fat cells and prevents anything from escaping.
Although insulin release is a natural response to eating even healthful foods, the greater magnitude of insulin release after carbohydrates ingestion, and its chronic levels, may result in poor energy partitioning. In the case of poor energy partitioning, consumed calories are diverted away from muscle and organ cells because these cells have become insulin resistant. The energy instead gets partitioned into fat cells. This may explain the unexpected return of hunger even shortly after consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal; muscle and organ cells never got “fed” adequately.
Poor energy partitioning may also explain the constant hunger experienced by the obese and the overweight, even though they store an abundant of energy in their bodies. While their fat cells get bombarded, their muscle and organ tissues remain literally starved.
All of the above occurs at the cellular level, so this can be described precisely as cellular starvation. This cellular starvation triggers complex hormonal responses — mediated by the hypothalamus via the central nervous system — that communicate to the brain a persistent hunger. So ultimately we eat more in the effort to fill the cells that never get filled adequately, if insulin level remains high and insulin resistance perpetuates.
It’s suggested that a diet removed of processed carbohydrates can reverse this condition. Less chronic insulin means the return of insulin sensitivity in muscle and organ cells, allowing muscle and organ tissues to once again accept consumed calories. The decrease of insulin also results in fat tissues finally releasing fat to be used by the other tissues as fuel. This process is energy repartitioning. With a lower magnitude and less frequency of insulin release, consumed energy makes it into muscle and organ tissues after each meal, and stored energy gets released from fat cells to fuel the body in between meals. This repartitioning of energy effectively removes hunger, or increases satiation (hypothalamus-mediated).
I consider all grains to be processed, even if they’re called “whole grains.” If you ever pulled grains from the ground and try to eat it, you’d understand what I mean. They have to be altered in order to be edible — thus processed.
Permanent Weight Loss
Sustainable weight loss is not about decreasing calorie intake, otherwise you’ll perpetuate the cellular starvation seen in the obese, the overweight, and even in the underweight afflicted with insulin resistance. You must eat ENOUGH of the right kinds of calories (meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts). The idea is to retrain the body to divert energy away from fat cells and into muscle and organ cells where it is oxidized for living. Fat cells are merely “holding cells” for a portion of consumed energy to be used later to fuel metabolism (for between meals, during sleep, etc.).
Simply eating fewer calories have been shown to be ineffective long-term. Based on the Law of Conservation in a complex biological open-system, the body compensates for energy intake. Eat less than what is required for normal cellular activities and your body eventually responds in negative ways. This is why no study has ever demonstrated the long-term effectiveness of a decreased-calorie diet. The muscle and organ cells of the body must receive adequate energy; if they don’t, then, as studies dating back to the early part of last century until most recent show, you’ll always battle hunger, suffer metabolic suppression, and experience other physical deterioration.
Partition the energy you eat to the right cells, and you’ll eat as much, or as little, as your body needs. And repartition the stored energy from fat cells to muscle and organ cells, and you’ll fuel your body for longer periods between meals. This will return fat cells to their normal and healthy size, and prevent their re-enlargement. (You’ll probably end up eating less anyways because the right cells will finally receive the energy.)
No More Counting Calories
But whether you eat more or less, you won’t need to count calories as the body will tell you — from a cellular level — if you need more energy or less. Your hunger and satiation will adjust accordingly. Besides, for millions of years our ancestors didn’t count calories. Why should we?
Eat the right, and we won’t need to be so anal about calories.
Break The Psychological Hunger
Beyond energy partitioning and repartitioning, an obstacle that must be overcome is psychological (or behavioral)hunger. Once energy partitioning and repartitioning are in place, the body may no longer be hungry, but the brain may still feel hunger. Years of eating hyperflavored foods have done a job on brain chemistry, producing an addiction not dissimilar to that of drug or even sex. The food addiction also comes with cues (such as smell, location, and circumstance, among others) that trigger psychological/behavioral hunger.
A conscious and sustained effort (6 months or more) to return to eating wholesome foods without hyperflavoring, and avoiding associative cues, may slowly reduce and diminish psychological hunger. Just as breaking a drug addiction, this will take effort. But it’s worth it, and all of my clients succeed.
Just as there are tools to use to break a drug addiction, there are methods effective to help break psychological hunger. A highly effective method is Intermittent Fasting (IF), which if used properly may help you differentiate mere psychological hunger from true physical hunger. You need to know the difference… but not until you first accomplish proper energy partitioning and energy repartitioning. Get your muscle and organ cells fed first.