…Basically yes, the calories you ingest is your income. Your insulin levels determine the percentage of that income that is diverted into savings. The higher the income, the higher the savings: the more you eat, the fatter you get, especially if those calories are in the form of simple sugars like sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup, which directly raise insulin levels higher when paired with a high-glycemic load and indirectly via their effect on cortisol and eicosanoids. Higher insulin levels mean a greater diversion of energy into storage, which means it takes an ever-increasing amount of food to satisfy your active tissues, and it is the demand of the active tissue that determines whether or not your are satiated. Therefore, instead of your metabolism rising with the surplus of food, it remains the same, because to the active tissues there isn’t a surplus of food. You must eat more than you burn to get what you need, and is the reason why portion sizes are on the rise and many obese people can nonchalantly drink 44 ounce sodas that would have satisfied five people 50 years ago.
On the other side of the coin are those who are overweight but who are eating very few calories. This scenario is just as common as the overweight person who eats too much. In this scenario, the overweight person eats as little food as they can stand. They are chronically hungry most often, but they fight it with willpower. Fighting hunger with willpower induces a drop in metabolic rate as discussed in the thyroid chapter. Over time, even on a thousand calories per day or less, the active tissues can get by – barely. But this severely hypothyroid state in which the body slows down the metabolic rate enough to survive on next to nothing also elevates cortisol which elevates insulin. This prohibits the release of fat as energy no matter how much of it you may be carrying around. Not only does this stall the loss of fat, and not only is this a miserable way to live, but these starved tissues signal overwhelming urges to overeat for survival’s sake. The fact that hunger lowers serotonin levels sets you up for emotional disorders, food and drug addiction, binge eating, and more fun and games.
Throw an intense cardiovascular exercise regimen into this starved scenario and you raise cortisol through the roof. The endorphins you release are the only thing that makes you temporarily feel good other than bingeing on sugar, and you even become addicted to that until you injure yourself, get very ill because of immune system destruction that chronic high cortisol does to you, or develop insurmountable fatigue (which you medicate with caffeine that, you guessed it, further raises cortisol). This is what you get when you follow the 21st century expert advice on weight management.
Personally, in the words of my childhood hero, Weird Al Yankovic, “I’d rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue” or “staple bagels to my face and remove them with a pitchfork.” Incidentally, it was Yankovic who also supplied the world with much wisdom on healthy living when he encouraged us all to just “Eat it.” However, I disagree with Yankovic on several accounts. I do not think it wise to have a whole bunch of bananas, and I very much disagree with his statement, “It doesn’t matter what you have for lunch.” More on this in the next chapter…