Belly Fat: What Causes It, and What Can Make It Go Away?

An overabundance of belly fat can indicate risk for problems such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. How do we get potbellies in the first place? Is it the fat we eat? Is it the carbs? Is it the number of calories? Or is it all or none of the above?

As we've been discussing on this website, most of us believe that we get belly fat and other kinds of unseemly fat deposits (such as fat thighs and double chins) because we eat more calories than we burn off.

The mainstream theory is that our energy stores (presumably our fat tissue) get bigger because we overeat, and they shrink because we restrict calories.

The alternative hypothesis, Lipophilia, tells us that, when we accumulate fat tissue, this drives us to consume more calories, and it regulates how many calories we can "burn off." A positive caloric balance doesn't cause obesity; it results from it. What causes it is the derangement of the fat tissue.

So what does the evidence tell us? Are all calories "equal"? Or does the quality of calories also matter?

Let's zero in on dietary fat. What happens when we eat fat? Doesn't it just "turn into" fat on our bodies?

No. We store fat in our fat cells in the form of triglycerides. In order to lock triglycerides in our fat tissue, we need the biochemical assistance of a molecule called alpha glycerol phosphate. To make significant quantities of alpha glycerol phosphate, we need significant concentrations of insulin and glucose. So even when we eat pure fat, we can't accumulate belly fat unless we eat carbohydrates or otherwise stimulate the secretion of significant tissue concentrations of insulin.

That's a long-winded explanation. It's certainly more sophisticated than the idea that "a calorie is a calorie." But when we consider that the digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates all drive very different biochemical activity within the body, the notion that 'a calorie is a calorie' becomes absurd to the point of being nonsensical.

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And while you're here... :]

10.18.11 Beyond Caloriegate Cover Art

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