Tag Archives: obesity

the insulin-obesity hypothesis is under attack

…but it isn’t dead, imo, because that would be really hard to do.  Like, seriously.

 

 

side note: please consider the modern views of Taubes, Lustig, Gardner, Attia, and others on Carbs™.  They’re less “Carbs-cause-obesity, keto-for-all, etc.,” and more thinking it might not be Carbs™ per se, but rather processed and refined foods.  And #context…  And I tend to agree at the moment (nuances and caveats are subject to change, as more evidence accumulates).

 

disclaimer: I haven’t seen the full text of Hall’s recent study, but that’s not really relevant to what I want to discuss.  In other words, I don’t think the full text will provide any additional details on this particular point.

 




 

Tl;dr: this study was not designed to prove or disprove metabolic advantage or the insulin-obesity hypothesis.

It’s in the study design:  four weeks of low fat followed by four weeks of low carb.  We KNOW that weight loss slows over time (especially if calories are controlled, as they were in this study).  It has to do with the order of treatments.

Weight loss-slowing over time in the Minnesota Experiment:

 

 

Minn-Starvation-weight

 

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Rodent keto studies

Next time someone says VLC/keto is harmful or at least not helpful for fat loss because of a new rodent study, they’ll probably be wrong.

BOOKMARK THIS ONE GUYS.

Rodent studies on ketogenic diets or exogenous ketones are valuable and interesting in a variety of #contexts, although I’d argue that regulation of fat mass isn’t really one of ’em.

For starters, rodents aren’t particularly ketogenic – it’s rare to see ketones >1 after an overnight fast even in long-term ketoadapted mice.  Also, many rodents gain weight until they die, whereas humans plateau and stay relatively weight-stable for their entire lives (at least historically, and I’m not talking about yo-yo dieting).

Skeletal muscle, on the other hand, seems more similarly regulated: keto isn’t muscle-sparing in either specie… most people, perhaps unwittingly, increase protein intake on keto, and THIS spares muscle (N.B. this is simply to spare muscle, whereas in non-keto dieters, it’s not uncommon to see increased muscle in the #context of high protein).  That’s because carbs are more anabolic than fat.  QED.

There’s just a fundamental difference in the way fat mass and appetite is regulated between the species.  There are many similarities, which is why these studies are still valuable, but fat mass isn’t one of ‘em.

 

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Chris Gardner strikes again!

Weight loss on low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate diets by insulin resistance status among overweight and obese adults: a randomized pilot trial (Gardner et al., 2015)

 

diet compositions

 

Low carb diet: participants went from 230 grams/d to less than 50 for the first 3 months, then creeped up to ~80 over the next 3 months.

Will the critics say “the carbz weren’t low enough!”?  REALLY?

 

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AMYLIN

Brief background reading: amylin (according to Wikipedia)

 

In a study by Hollander on type II diabetics, the synthetic amylin analog pramlintide was tested (Hollander et al., 2003).  In this year-long RCT, over 600 patients were treated with placebo or up to 120 ug pramlintide BID (twice per day).  On average, these subjects were obese (BMI 34), diabetic for ~12 years, and had an HbA1c of 9.1%.  After one year, HbA1c declined 0.62% and they lost about 1.4 kg… not very impressive.

 

But it’s not all bad news; after viewing those relatively negative results (3 lb weight loss over the course of 1 year), another group of researchers led by Louis Aronne and Christian Weyer believed amylin had yet to be tested proper.  So they designed a better study; it was shorter, used higher doses of pramlintide, and they enrolled obese yet non-diabetic patients (Aronne et al., 2007).  They opted for higher doses of pramlintide (240 ug TID [three times per day]) because in dose-escalation studies, the incidence and severity of adverse drug reactions was consistently low at all doses tested.

 

They chose to study obese-er subjects (BMI 38, compared to 34 in the Hollander study) because obese subjects lose fat more readily than lean people, so if the study is designed to measure fat loss, then it is better to select a population of subjects where more fat loss is predicted.  They selected non-diabetic subjects for a similar reason; diabetics must regularly inject insulin which promotes the accumulation of fat mass — this could counteract any fat reducing effects of pramlintide.
In other words, it was a more powerful and better designed study.

 

After 16 weeks, pramlintide-treated subjects lost an average of 3.6 kg (~8 lbs), or about half a pound per week.  30% of patients lost over 15 pounds (1 lb/wk)!  Importantly, the weight loss didn’t appear to have reached a plateau by week 16, so it would have most likely continued along a similar trajectory had the study been longer.  There were no side effects, and a battery of psychological evaluations showed that the patients receiving pramlintide felt it was easier to control their appetite and BW, they didn’t mind the daily injections, and overall well-being increased.  At the very least, these evaluations meant the subjects weren’t losing weight because of nausea or malaise.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.

 

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Tissue-specific fatty acid oxidation

Does it matter where fatty acids are oxidized, liver or skeletal muscle?  Of course, they’re oxidized in both tissues (quantitatively much more in the latter), but relative increases in one or the other show interesting effects on appetite and the regulation of fat mass [in rodents].

Warning: a lot of speculation in this post.

A LOT.

It’s known that LC diets induce a spontaneous decline in appetite in obese insulin resistant patients.  Precisely HOW this happens isn’t exactly known:  the Taubes model?  improved leptin signaling?  probably a little bit of both, other mechanisms, and possibly this one:

 

Exhibit A. Oxfenicine

 

oxfenicine

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Random thoughts on the ‘biome

If you’re healthy, no major complaints, then you probably won’t benefit from tweaking your ‘biome.  Ymmv.  But if you’re gonna do it anyway, here are some tips (mostly my opinions).

 

microbiome

 

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Epigenetics & Circadian Biology: Prader-Willi

I came across a recent study on a mouse model of Angelman Syndrome (an epigenetic disorder), and wasn’t surprised to learn there’s a strong circadian component to it.  Epigenetics are one of the main ways circadian rhythms are programmed.

In this case, the circadian connection is more direct.

Angelman Syndrome (AS): you inherit 2 pairs of each gene, one from Mom and one from Dad.  In some cases, one of the copies is silenced via epigenetics and you’re basically just hoping the other one is in good shape.  In the genetically relevant region in AS, the paternal copy is silenced and the maternal copy does all the heavy lifting, but in AS, the maternal copy is mutated or absent, so none of the genes in this region are expressed.

Interestingly, scientists found that one of the genes, Ube3a (an ubiquitin ligase), is involved in regulating Bmal1, a core circadian gene (Shi et al., 2015) . And mice with a silenced paternal Ube3a and mutant maternal Ube3a exhibit many of the same circadian symptoms of children with AS. They don’t mimic all of the symptoms as there are many other genes in this region.  But both show circadian abnormalities.

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is the epigenetic opposite: same region of DNA, but silenced maternal copy and mutant or absent paternal copy. This disorder is characterized by massive obesity and low muscle mass (among other things).

 

Prader-Willi

 

While reading about this disorder, I was taken aback with how the obesity was explained.

“Insatiable appetite” (Laurance et al., 1981), although from what I can gather, these children would develop massive obesity even if they were fed cardboard.  Some studies even showed no change in food intake and/or energy expenditure (eg, Schoeller et al., 1988), which led some researchers to publish entire papers about how these children must be lying and/or stealing food (eg, Page et al., 1983) .

Further, other researchers even explained their obesity was due to an inability to vomit (Butler et al., 2007).

THEY’RE OBESE BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT BULEMIC.

AYFKM?

When these kids gain weight, it’s nearly all fat mass; when they lose weight, it’s nearly all muscle [shoulda been a BIG hint]… this even led some researchers (who detected no change in fat mass after significant weight loss) to conclude that their techniques to assess body composition must not be valid in this population because: surely, they must’ve lost some fat mass like normal people do.

THEY FAILED TO CONSIDER THIS IS AN EXTREME CIRCADIAN MISMATCH DISORDER IN NUTRIENT PARTITIONING

It was actually painful to read: these kids are being accused of stealing food and not vomiting because that’s the only way to explain it.

NO IT’S NOT, SCIENCE.

They can be forced into losing fat while maintaining some muscle with an extreme protein-sparing modified fast (eg, Bistrian et al., 1977)…

A few research groups have considered the possibility it’s a hormonal disorder, and some fairly long-term studies with GH replacement have shown promising results (eg, Carrel et al., 1999).

 

Prader-Willi Food Pyramid. Wait, wut? O_o

Prader-Willi Food Pyramid.
Wait, wut?
O_o

 

Some have even speculated involvement of leptin (eg, Cento et al., 1999), although this hasn’t been followed-up on.

 

 

Disclaimer: I don’t know the cure or best treatment modality for Prader-Willi, although given the strong circadian component in its sister condition, Angelman’s Syndrome, I strongly believe this avenue should be explored (in combination with the seemingly necessary hormonal corrections, which have been the only successful interventions yet).  “Diet” doesn’t work; these kids aren’t obese because they’re stealing food or failing to vomit.  Interventions strictly targeting CICO have massively failed this population.

Side note: in the Angelman Syndrome mouse model, *unsilencing* the paternal copy worked… maybe the same could work in PWS (and/or other forms of obesity)…?

 

Evidence supporting potential circadian-related treatment modalities for PWS:

A Prader-Willi locus IncRNA cloud modulates diurnal genes and energy expenditure (Powell et al., 2013)

Symptoms of Prader-Willi associated with interference in circadian, metabolic genes.

Magel2, a Prader-Willi syndrome candidate gene, modulates the activities of circadian rhythm proteins in cultured cells (Devos et al., 2011)

Circadian fluctuation of plasma melatonin in Prader-Willi’s syndrome and obesity (Willig et al., 1986)

 

And the connection with LIGHT:

Artificial light at night: melatonin as a mediator between the environment and the epigenome (Haim and Zubidat, 2015)

Circadian behavior is light re-programmed by plastic DNA methylation (Azzi et al., 2014)

 

 

 

 

PWS is much worse than just nutrient partitioning (seriously, just spend a few minutes on any Prader-Willi support forum or this; maybe it is an appetite disorder, but given the data on weight gain [mostly fat mass] and weight loss [mostly muscle mass], it seems far more likely a circadian disorder of nutrient partitioning),
but that component jumped out at me; more specifically, despite the only positive results coming from non-dietary interventions, researchers were still all “#CICO.”

“Lean meat, sugar-free Jello, and skim milk”
FFS

Circadian biology, hormone replacement [where appropriate], and figure out if any specific diets help.  PMSF/CR doesn’t work unless “refrigerators and cabinet pantries are locked shut.”

Maybe this applies to other forms of obesity, too.
Maybe.

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calories proper

 

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The “Insulin Index”

Similar to the glycemic index, which is an estimate of the rise in blood glucose after eating a particular food, the insulin index is an estimate of the rise in insulin after eating a particular food.  In general, these indices are obvious: processed carbs have high glycemic and insulin indices, whereas whole foods are lower.  Some exceptions are things like dairy and lean meat, which induce more insulin than you’d expect given to their low carbohydrate content…

STORY TIME

When some protein-rich foods were discovered to induce insulin secretion, people thought this information might help type 1 diabetics more accurately calculate their insulin dose.  Interesting rationale, worth testing.

Tl;dr: it didn’t work very well.

More of the protein-derived amino acids may have been incorporated into lean tissue, but the extra insulin load ended up causing hypoglycemia more often than not.  Hypoglycemia is acutely more harmful than hyperglycemia, and is still quite harmful in the long-term.  Some studies on incorporating the insulin index for type 1 diabetics are mixed, ie, increased or no change in risk of hypoglycemia, but no studies show it reduces the risk.

 

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A brief explanation of Hall et al., ie, THE LOW CARB WAR

“Examination of acute shifts in energy balance by selectively reducing calorie intake from one macronutrient.”

Intro (1/2): please don’t read this study with the media headlines in your mind.  Don’t even pay any attention to the study’s title, abstract, intro, and discussion.  In no way did this study put low carb proper on the chopping block, regardless of what you’ve seen online or elsewhere.  Mmmkay?

 

Intro (2/2): if you want a lesson (or refresher) in Advanced Nutrition, check out the Supplemental Information: in formulating his mathematical models, Dr. Hall seemingly reviewed every single biochemical pathway and physiological variable ever invented.  Read it, for science.  Really.

 

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Ketosis is a hack: here’s why

There are multiple distinct flavors of diabetes/obesity, as evidenced by the fact that some people have: 1) impaired glucose tolerance (but normal fasting glucose); 2) others have impaired fasting glucose (but normal glucose tolerance); and 3) others have both.  This means there isn’t a linear relationship between these phenomena*.  There are also: 4) obese patients with normal glucose metabolism; and 5) lean patients with type 2 diabetes.

*I think the great Dr. Kraft may have missed some of the nuances here.

There is not 100% overlap among these, suggesting [confirming] distinct diabetes/obesity phenotypes (and probably causes & best treatments).

 

 

midnightsun

 

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