Does eating extra fat via ‘Fat Bombs’ and Bulletproof Coffee make you fat? Here’s the short answer. Yes and no. – Not the answer you wanted I know, but let me explain …
If you are naturally slender, then eating fat will not make you fat. If you are obese or overweight then yes, I’m afraid eating more fat will indeed make you fat – and it has NOTHING to do with those blasted calories!
If you’ve read my previous blog regarding the Ketogenic diet, those that undertake it are actually encouraged to eat their majority of calories as fat. However, this needs to be ‘real food’ and only consumed until they feel full. Unfortunately, some people have taken this to mean that they should add extra fat to everything they eat! Hence the rage of ‘Fat Bombs’, which are treats or foods with very high fat content, or even ‘Bulletproof Coffee’, coffee with the addition of extra oil be it MCT or coconut. What I’m trying to get at, is that there has been some people who find this slows down weight loss and others that feel it does not. So, what the hell is happening?
Insulin is the major driver of weight gain. When you gain body fat, the body responds by increasing secretion of a hormone called leptin, which tells the body to stop gaining weight, and preventing us from becoming too fat. Interesting fact: this is actually a survival mechanism, because obese animals who cannot move properly will get eaten. So, to put it bluntly; why doesn’t it work for us? Well, insulin and leptin essentially are opposites. One tells the body to store body fat and the other tells it to stop. If we continue to eat fructose, causing insulin resistance and persistently high insulin, then we will also persistently stimulate leptin. Like all hormones, a persistently high hormone level leads to decreased hormonal receptors and the development of resistance. So, constant high leptin levels eventually lead to leptin resistance, which is exactly what we see in common obesity. So, lean people are leptin sensitive and obese people are leptin resistant. … Are you still with me?
The Physiology of Eating Fat
Let’s now think about the physiology of eating dietary fat. Remember there are only two fuels for the body; you either burn sugar or you burn fat. When you eat carbohydrates or excess protein, it goes to the liver, through the portal vein and stimulates insulin, which tells the body to start burning sugar, and stores the rest as glycogen or fat.
Dietary fat, on the other hand, does no such thing. To cut the process short – it’s absorbed in the intestines and then into the blood circulation, and NOT the liver. From there it goes into the fat cells to be stored. In other words, the fat does not affect the liver, and therefore does not need any help from insulin signalling and goes directly into fat stores.
So, surely what I’ve just said DOES mean that eating fat makes you fat? No, no at all. Let’s take a lean person, who remember from my third paragraph, is obviously leptin sensitive. As they eat a lot of fat, it will get stored into fat cells, but their insulin doesn’t go up. As fat mass goes up, leptin does as well. Since the lean person is sensitive to leptin, they will stop eating in order to let his body weight go back down. Even if you force-feed them, their metabolism ramps up to burn off those extra calories. Not fair, is it? So, what happens if an overweight person overeats fat? Now, the situation for an obese, leptin resistant person, is that as they eat lots and lots of fat, their insulin does not go up, however, that ‘fat bomb’ does indeed go directly into their fat stores. It then responds by increasing leptin levels in their blood. But here’s the difference. Their body doesn’t care! Why? Because it’s resistant to the effects of leptin, so even their metabolism doesn’t bother ramping up, their appetite doesn’t bother decreasing, and for sure NONE of the beneficial weight loss effects of eating that ‘fat bomb’ happens. And yes, you will need to eventually burn off that extra fat you’ve taken in. Pointless!
The practical implication is this. If you are lean and leptin sensitive, then eating more dietary fat, like cheese, will not make you gain weight. However, if you are trying to lose weight, and have some problem with obesity/ insulin/ leptin resistance, then adding extra fat to your meals is NOT a good idea. Obesity is a hormonal, not a caloric, imbalance, which is why we keep on about the nutrients of foods and not counting calories. It’s all about what triggers and spikes insulin.
If you want to know more about how certain food positively and negatively affects you, it’s all in the introduction of the Rev-Reboot!
- The Physiology of Fat Loss
Mike Deyhle, Christine Mermier, Ph.D. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
- Jason Fung, M.D., Diet Doctor.