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It’s not your fault you’re fat

by Victor Rotariu 9 months ago in health
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But nobody else is going to fix it

You were tricked into thinking your obesity is your fault, but it’s not. However it is your responsibility to fix.

Long story short: your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa was not fat when foraging in the wild. Try to live as close to him as possible and you will not be either.

Are you fat?

If you are in the developed world, statistics says the answer is yes. Globally ‘only’ 39% of people are overweight or obese. The percentage jumps to 70% for the U.S., 67% Australia, 63% Germany, and so on. First world obesity contrasts third-world famines.

We have not always been fat. The overweight and obesity rate has almost doubled in the past 40 years. This extra adipose tissue is not natural. What is fattening us?

It’s your fault?

The conventional explanation puts the blame on the individual. There are countless articles on how we eat more food overall, especially junk food, and exercise less. There are countless other articles and books about weight loss that imply individual blame. Their advice to exercise more, restrict food portions, eliminate or reduce certain foods, eat at certain times, implies that obesity is the your fault.

A conventional moral underpins this view. The perspective of obesity as the sin of gluttony. It’s bad to be fat. So we conclude fat people are bad for becoming fat. This is the simple explanation our unconscious monkey brain produces.

Your obesity is your responsibility, but not your fault.

The harsh reality is that it is your responsibility to lose weight. Nobody else but you lives in your body. Nobody else suffers from your fat.

However it’s not your fault you are overweight. The guilt we feel for our extra fat is often a barrier to making changes towards weight loss.

It’s NOT your fault

It’s not your fault you’re fat.

Right now it is normal to be fat. Most people in the developed world are fat. Because we have created a world that makes us fat.

Once we become, we do overeat. But that’s because the excess adipose tissue changes your biochemistry to signal increased food intake.

“The process of getting fat makes you overeat,” David Ludwig MD PHD, author of Always Hungry

Whose fault is it that you are fat?

First food companies. Second the parasites that profit from your misunderstanding of obesity.

Food companies are hacking human behaviour and biology to make you eat more bad food. Why? Because they need to sell more. The only way to do this is to convince us to buy more of their product over their competition.

Can food companies really make us do things that are bad for us?

Yes. Easily.

It is ridiculously easy to make you overeat crappy food

The deepest human drive is to find and eat food.

Our ancestors lived in a different world. Food was scarce. They had two jobs to do: avoid death and procure food. For 99% of human history every human spent most of their time and energy in search of food. The deepest human drive is to find and eat food.

Not only that, but only our most gluttonous and greedy ancestors survived. Humans had no way to store food. Famine could come any day. They survived if they gorged themselves on food each and every time they could.

Natural selection has led to a brain that wants to eat all food in sight all the time.

This is why eating feels so good. By stuffing your face, you are unconsciously maximizing your survival chances. You might consciously want to keep a diet. But at an unconscious level all of us think: ‘Eat everything I see“. You cannot fight survival instincts and expect to win.

On top of that, modern foodstuffs hack our biology.

It’s not your fault you’re fat.

Our bodies evolved to maximize nutrients and calories in a world of scarce food. Our ancestors did not have supermarkets and food delivery. They had to work hard and get lucky to eat. Your body evolved to survive in these conditions.

It has not adapted to modern foodstuffs. The successful food products are those that hack your biology to become irresistible. And it’s not hard. Providing high energy substances which are scarce in the wild is a surefire way to create food addiction and overconsumption. There are three hacks which drive most of our bad food behaviour.

Hack one: sugar.

It’s incredibly scarce in the wild, found in rare occasions in puny quantities in wild fruits and honey. Humans, and other animals, evolved a mechanism to use fructose (half of table sugar) as a signal to gorge on food. It suppresses appetite control and maximizes weight gain from food. This was advantageous in autumn before the winter scarcity. It allowed our ancestors to create the only food stores available to them: body fat.

Now sugar is the number one tool to hack your biology. It makes you crave it and eat without restraint. Ideal to sell products. This is why over 65% of all items in the supermarket contain sugar.

Hack two: salt.

We put salt on every table because it is both essential to life and rare in nature.

Our ancestors did not have table salt. They extracted sodium from the foods they ate. Because it’s essential to your biology and rare in nature, you evolved to like salt. Manufacturers add it to make you like their products.

Hack three: hyper-processed.

Fire made evolution into Homo Sapiens possible. It processed food to make it more digestible, and thus our bodies extract more nutrients and calories from it. The more easy to digest something, the more we like it, because it necessitates less effort and provides more energy. Food producers take this to an extreme with foodstuffs that are empty carbs, very easy to digest but contain almost no nutrients.

Putting it together: hyper-processed fat + carbs + salt + sugar.

I guarantee this makes you overeat and get fat.

Both fat and carbs are high value in the wild because they are energy dense. However our ancestors rarely would have found them together. A potato has lots of carbs, and no fat. A deer has fat, no carbs. Put them together, add salt, and sugar, and you have an irresistible mix.

Practically all junk food that you overeat follows this recipe. Burger: fat in meat and cheese, carbs in fries and bun, sugar in sauce, salt in meat. Pastry: carbs in dough, fat in oil, salt and sugar aplenty. Doughnuts and cookies: sugar + carbs + oil, with a little salt. Chips: carbs in oil with plenty of salt, and now sugar or a sauce full of sugar. Pizza: carbs in dough + fat in oil and cheese with a lot of salt, sugar in ketchup or sauce. Even many salads: carbs in croutons, fat and sugar and salt in sauce.

As more and more countries adopted the Standard American Diet, aka succumbing to these hacks, their residents became more and more fat.

Who profits from obesity?

Food companies which have the explicit goal to grow sales each year.

How can they grow sales? They either convince you to buy their products in stead of competition by making them more addictive, or they convince you to buy (and eat) more food.

Fitness industry to a degree. If people keep getting fatter, and they believe that the solution is to exercise, then more and more people will pay for fitness services and products.

Diet consultants and product manufacturers. Almost all diets work in the short term, but fail in the long term. It’s lucrative to have fat people that keep trying (and failing) to lose weight, rather than slim people who don’t need it.

Pharma. The same causes for obesity also lead to metabolic syndrome. This condition promotes practically all chronic illnesses. Chronic diseases are the main source of sales in Pharma.

I am not saying all these entities conspire to make you fat. I am saying that we live in a world of profit and advertising. The companies which can take advantage of our human nature to sell more, thrive and grow. Those who do not, disappear.

A lot of business rests on selling you food that makes you fat and then products that promise to solve this problem. This model cannot work unless you believe it’s your fault you’re fat. If you realize it is the way you are hacked into becoming fat, then you would demand change from these companies. This would be severely detrimental to their bottom line. No more food addiction would make a lot of the top food companies go bankrupt.

But how do I lose weight?

I am not going to claim there is a magic bullet. The more time you spend fat, the harder it is to get rid of it. But it is possible to lose weight despite our fat-promoting environment.

The solution is not in buying more stuff that promises to solve the problem, but rather in eliminating stuff that prevents your body from solving it.

Losing weight comes from removing the barriers for your body’s self-regulating mechanisms.

Our bodies have complex self-regulating mechanisms. The trick is they evolved to self-regulate in conditions of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer. To lose weight you should replicate such conditions as closely as possible.

This means:

– No modern food hacking substances, aka no sugar, no seed oils (industrial product), no trans-fats, no nitrites, no anything that had not existed 1,000 years ago

– Fasting often enough. Your ancestors did not have oatmeal, refrigerators or UberEats. They had to forage before they ate. Some days they had food, others they did not

– Sufficient fat and meat. They are critical to your body. If they are inadequate, the body tries to compensate through appetite.

– Don’t eat distracted. We have limited focused attention. If we don’t notice eating, our satiety mechanisms don’t work well.

– Eat slowly. Chew well. Have conversations with people while you eat. Immediate satiety from food has a delay. If you eat too quickly, you find yourself overfull.

– Spend time outside in all weather to get sunshine, temperature variation, daily movement.

– Physical exercise. It is not sufficient by itself to lose weight. But it is essential as a stimulus for the body to maintain self-regulation in the long-term.

– Sleep 8 hours+. Less sleep makes you fat, among many other problems.

– Interrupt sitting often with standing, walking, movement.

– Careful with what drugs you take. Many promote obesity or insulin resistance as a less known side-effect.

Long story short: your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa was not fat when foraging in the wild. Try to live as close to him as possible and you will not be either.

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About the author

Victor Rotariu

Decoding the PaleoRobot brain that drives human behaviour

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