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Safe and Permanent Weight Loss Cannot Be Achieved in the Fed State

Weight Loss Axiom Number Three

Insulin and Glucagon

These are the two major hormones that control energy metabolism in the human. They are much like yin andyang, hot and cold or happy and sad. In order to really enjoy the good days, we all have bad days. Extremes of eithertoo hot or too cold and soon everyone complains about the weather. Too much yin or too much yang and according to traditional Chinese Medicine, you are sick. Too much insulinand you are sick, hypertension, overweight, cancer, heart disease and stroke. Too much glucagon and you are toothin, emaciated and weak.

As we have mentioned previously, when man evolved there wouldbe times of famine, between times of feast. The biochemistry of this evolution allowed man to survive the periods of famineby using insulin to "store" energy. Some typical "fuel" reserves in a 70 kilogram man:

Organ ***************** Available energy (kcal)
************ glucose/glycogen ***** fat ***** protein
blood *********** 60 ************** 45 ********* 0
liver *********** 400 ************* 450 ******** 400
brain *********** 8 *************** 0 ********** 0
muscle ********** 1200 ************ 450 ******** 24000
adipose(fat) **** 80 ************** 135,000 **** 40

from Stryer Biochemistry 4th Edition page 771

Look at the chart and find the biggest number. The largestamount of available energy in an average 70 kilogramhuman is overwhelmingly stored in -fat. For the purpose ofthis discussion let's think of each of these numbers aboveas fuel tanks, for our energy needs. When we fill up ourcars with gasoline (our old Mercedes B100 biodiesel) we haveto have a fuel hose to get the fuel into our gas tank. Inorder to use that fuel in our gas tanks, we have to have afuel line leading from the gas tank to the motor in ourcar. Without these fuel lines, we could not utilize ourengine / car.

Enzymatic Induction

Human biochemistry is composed of many different enzyme systems.One such enzyme is phosphofructokinase that catalyzes the reaction of fructose 6-phosphate to fructose 1,6-bisphosphate.As with any biochemical reaction that is dependant on anenzyme system, the more it is used, the more developed itbecomes. If there is no need for an enzyme, then the levelsin the body will be very low. If there is much demand for an enzyme, then the body will synthesize more of it to meetthe demands.

Filling your tank with gas

The fuel line for the human body to fill its energy storagetanks, especially the largest energy storage tank fat, isinsulin. Insulin is the hose that energy (gasoline, biodiesel)flows from the storage tank (breakdown products of your recently ingested meals) into your gas tank for future use.Without this fuel line insulin, you will eventually go intoa coma (hyperosmolar) that if not treated, can result in lessthan optimal outcomes.

Using the gas in your tank

When we drive our cars, we use the energy stored in the fueltanks. In order for us to use that fuel, it must get fromthe storage tank to the motor. In the human, that fuel lineis glucagon. Remember, insulin stores energy, glucagonutilizes that stored energy. Just as insulin stimulates energy storage and the necessary enzyme systems, glucagonstimulates energy utilization and the necessary enzyme systems required to accomplish this.

Life in the Fed State

The problem today is that we have evolved from creatures thatdid not have consistent daily feedings to our "modern" fastfood insanity and the notion that now we need three "square"meals a day plus snacks. What happens to our energy metabolismwhen we start out putting insulin stimulating foods in ourstomach three times a day? When we eat, our biochemistryreacts by secreting insulin, so that we can store all thisenergy for future needs -most of it going into fat. Longbefore we have used any of this energy, we are having anothermeal -lunch. More gas in our tanks, -none used yet. Then comes dinner -more gas into our tank. Snacks -more gas in.We spend our whole day and most of the night in a "fed" orinsulin state.

Huge fuel tanks full of fat -everywhere

Because we never allow our body's insulin level to drop enoughso that the glucagon level will rise, we never get into a "glucagon" state. Our whole car is now filled mostly withgas. There is hardly any room for a driver in the front seat.Huge fuel tanks full of fat are everywhere we look. Yourcar is loaded with gas, but you can't drive around the blockbecause you haven't developed the enzymes of energy utilizationto establish a fuel line between all these gas tanks fullof fat and our motor, which is now also encased in fat.While insulin is the fuel line to fill our energy stores, glucagon is the fuel line to use this stored energy. Withoutproper stimulation of the glucagon system, our tanks justkeep filling up with fat. We never develop the necessaryenzymes to use all this energy. You don't have to travel toofar to see people totally encased in their stored energy.

Livin' la vida de glucagon

To break this cycle, we need to stop eating for at least a portion of the day, or at least every other day. I don't knowhow many of you have ever fasted for 24 hours or more, but the feeling is incredible. You get a lot more work done,you don't get lethargic after eating and you start to actuallyfeel thin. I don't recommend fasting more than 24 hoursand I am not actually recommending a 24 hour fast. What Iam recommending is that during some portion of every day orat least every other day, you refrain from eating anythingso that you can get into a glucagon state and begin to inducethe necessary enzymes to use all the energy the human bodycan store.


Like it or not, three meals a day plus snacks is just not healthy.

Copyright John Mericle M.D. 2005 All Rights Reserved

To sign up for Dr. Mericle's Newsletter or visit the MericleDiet please click on the link below. is devoted to achieving optimal health and peak performance through diet and lifestyle change. Dr. Mericle brings together a unique blend of formal training in organic chemistry and biochemistry, medical education, 29 marathons, 3 Hawaii Ironman competitions and a lot of practical real life experience.


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