One of the great breakthroughs in understanding the obesity epidemic of recent years has been the discovery of the so-called “fat switch”. It’s a metaphor for the idea that creating fat in our bodies can be turned on, or turned off. How marvelous it would be to flip the switch to off and start burning fat, instead of accumulating fat.
Well, we’ve arrived at that point, thanks to the pioneer work of boffins like Richard J. Johnson, professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. Johnson has published several papers which are quite pivotal in our understanding of why we accumulate fat and why that has been driven to happen in the last 50 years or so.
If you look at epidemiology and history, it’s clear that there as been a worldwide explosion in obesity, diabetes, early cardio-metabolic deaths, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and other morbidities, due to relentless weight gain. It began in the 1960s with the rise of manufactured “junk food” and was accelerated in the1980s, with the introduction of the US government “food pyramid”, which erroneously put everyone on a diet which included 60 – 70% carbohydrates.
But Richard Johnson wanted to understand the exact mechanism. Instead of walking the orthodox path, and using limited orthodox thinking (biochemistry, genetics, cellular pathology) he decided to tackle it from a much broader perspective: history, epidemiology, anthropology, paleontology and evolutionary science.
He asked himself and his team why it was that some animals go through periods of rapid fat gain and then could somehow switch to a fat-burning mode. A hibernating bear, for example, could gain hundreds of pounds in the Fall and get fat for hibernation. But then it would switch to fat-burning mode and live off it’s fat deposits while sleeping for the whole winter. The fat gain mode exactly parallels the human “disease” we call metabolic syndrome (or diabesity), even including fatty liver deposits.
The tiny humming bird, incredibly, follows the same cycle. During the day humming birds feed frenetically, and pile on fat, so much so that their little livers turn creamy white with fat deposits. But then go through the night living off the day’s fat deposits, which vanish by sunrise and the whole cycle starts all over again.
So maybe what we call “metabolic syndrome” is a natural process. It seems that nature uses it often. But since we can’t understand it or control it, then for us it is a danger, a disease. We don’t hibernate but maybe we are doing something that triggers the fat storage mode, just as if we were intending to hibernate?
Well, suffice it to say that this entirely fresh way of looking at the problem has revealed some amazingly valuable answers. We now know there is a fat switch and how it works. Moreover, we know how to turn it off! Are you ready?
The AMP Pathway
The secret lies in a funny molecule called adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and its fate within the body. AMP is an energy molecule, obviously related to ATP (adenosine triphosphate) our main energy-bearing molecule.
In the process of metabolism of sugars (glucose) to create energy, AMP can be transformed by one of two enzymes, according to whichever “wins”. AMP deaminase (AMPD) leads to fat accumulation. AMP kinase (AMPK) leads to fat burning. Hooray for AMPK! Where can I buy it?
Well, of course it’s not quite that simple (though there are B*S* artists selling it already on Amazon).
We get AMPD or AMPK, one or the other, according to influencing factors. Insulin resistance, for example, is associated with lack of AMPK and excess AMPD. We need insulin to metabolize excess glucose safely. If the body stops responding to insulin (insulin resistance), then the excess sugars in the diet convert automatically to unwanted fat.
But it gets worse: AMPD also leads to leptin resistance. Leptin is a so-called “hunger hormone”, or appetite regulator, and it switches off the feeling of wanting to eat. It’s opposite number is another hunger hormone called ghrelin, which makes you feel peckish! Readers will readily see that leptin is the one we want! It controls our appetite. But if leptin resistance sets in, the body stops listening. In other words, eating will trigger leptin release but it’s ignored. You go on eating anyway, eating a LOT!
Leptin resistance is crucial to overeating and gluttony.
All this is reversed by generating AMPK and displacing AMPD. Where do we get AMPK?
There are quite a lot of ways. But changing how you eat is the most important. Intermittent fasting is the way to go. Keto dieting, the latest craze, is effective too.
The following herb substances inhibit AMPD and stimulate AMPK:
Berberine. Berberine works just as well as metformin, the main diabetes medication used by doctors.
Gynostemma. Gynostemma works twice as well as metoformin for weight loss and diabetes control! Quercetin is a plant flavonol that helps increase AMPK levels. It also increases insulin sensitivity.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), another substance that lowers AMPD and increases AMPK levels. It helps lower insulin resistance as well as being a powerful antioxidant. It is known as a neuro-protective and neurogenerative compound. I have given you generous quantities of acetyl-L-carnitine in my Mito-Cell Rejuvenator.
Now you know why!
The Fructose Story
But to get to the heart of this fat switch issue, you need to understand the role of fructose. Remember table sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. It’s “natural”.
But what is far from natural is the HUGE quantity of sugar we now consume.It’s gone up to an average of over 130 lbs. per person per year in Western countries (and those that follow us, like India). Not just added sugar, but hidden sugar, in foods like bread, ketchup, ham, cereals and yoghurt. That means we swallow HUGE quantities of fructose and that in turn means trouble.
Add to that the fact that the food industry has been corrupting soft drinks and juices in particular with MEGA-quantities of concentrated fructose, in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Put these two together and you can say that we consume hundreds of times more fructose now than even the recent past (say 70 years ago).
Unfortunately, fructose completely blocks the mechanism of the fat OFF switch. It does this by leading to excess of AMPD. It seriously inhibits AMPK.
YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO EAT FRUCTOSE (though curiously enough, Prof. Johnson has conducted trials and concluded that eating natural fruits in moderation does not upset the fat switch!)
In fact you cannot afford to eat any sugar. We have way too much of it and the incidence of obesity and diabetes exactly parallels the quantities of sugar in our diets (see graphs):
Effect of sugar intake on obesity, showing the impact of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Just give up adding sugar and avoid foods where it is hidden and you will do very well. Your palate will adjust very quickly and within a couple of weeks max. you’ll not notice it has gone from your diet!
Help your mitochondria to help you, lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. They know what to do! Just don’t flood them with junk sugar, that’s put there solely to get you addicted to manufactured food products.
Beer: unfortunately, beer also promotes AMPD and lowers AMPK. Wine and champagne are far safer, as I have been teaching you for YEARS.
[Extracted from my forthcoming re-release of The Science Of Slimming book]