So easy to over-eat! Is it the insulin release?
No, insulin probably isn’t the cause of constant hunger, according to Dr. Stephan Guyenet. Dr. G gives 11 points of evidence in support of his conclusion. Read them for yourself. Here are a few:
- multiple brain-based mechanisms (including non-insulin hormones and neurotransmitters) probably have more influence on hunger than do the pure effect of insulin
- weight loss reduces insulin levels, yet it gets harder to lose excess weight the more you lose
- at least one clinical study (in 1996) in young healthy people found that foods with higher insulin responses were linked to greater satiety, not greater hunger
- billions of people around the world eat high-carb diets yet remain thin
An oft-cited explanation for the success of low-carbohydrate diets involves insulin, specifically the lower insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance seen in low-carb dieters. They often report less trouble with hunger than other dieters.
Here’s the theory. When we eat carbohydrates, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high as we digest the carbohydrates. Insulin drives the bloodstream sugar (glucose) into cells to be used as energy or stored as fat or glycogen. High doses of refined sugars and starches over-stimulate the production of insulin, so blood sugar falls too much, over-shootinging the mark, leading to hypoglycemia, an undeniably strong appetite stimulant. So you go back for more carbohydrate to relieve the hunger induced by low blood sugar. That leads to overeating and weight gain.
Read Dr. Guyenet’s post for reasons why he thinks this explanation of constant or recurring bothersome hunger is wrong or too simplistic. I agree with him.
The insulin-hypoglycemia-hunger theory may indeed be at play in a few folks. Twenty years ago, it was popular to call this “reactive hypoglycemia.” For unclear reasons, I don’t see it that often now. It was always hard to document that hypoglycemia unless it appeared on a glucose tolerance test.
Regardless of the underlying explanation, low-carb diets undoubtedly are very effective in many folks. And low-carbing is what I always recommend to my patients with carbohydrate intolerance: diabetics and prediabetics.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Posted in Diabetic Diet, Dietary Carbohydrate, Insulin, Low-Carb
Tagged diabetes, diabetic diet, does insulin cause hunger, hunger, low-carb diet, prediabetes, Stephan Guyenet, what causes hunger
As an introduction, he writes…
The canonical Paleolithic diet approach excludes legumes because they were supposedly not part of our ancestral dietary pattern. I’m going to argue here that there is good evidence of widespread legume consumption by hunter-gatherers and archaic humans, and that beans and lentils are therefore an “ancestral” food that falls within the Paleo diet rubric. Many species of edible legumes are common around the globe, including in Africa, and the high calorie and protein content of legume seeds would have made them prime targets for exploitation by ancestral humans after the development of cooking.
Richard Wrangham thinks hominins started cooking with fire as long as 1.8 million years ago. There’s no expert consensus yet.
Read the rest.
Cross-section of a tooth
When I think about a Paleolithic approach to dental disease, the first expert that comes to mind is dentist John Sorrentino, D.D.S. The only other living “authority” that pops up is Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D., and he’s not even a dentist. Stephan focused his literature review more on malocclusions than teeth per se, as I recall. Dr. Sorrentino cites dentist Weston A. Price as a ground-breaker, documenting the deterioration of dental health as traditional cultures moved to modern diets loaded with refined and concentrated sugars and starches.
Fortunately for us, Dr. Sorrentino has blogged about the intersection of dentistry, evolution, and the paleo diet. Malocclusion and caries (cavities) weren’t problems for our Paleolithic ancestors, although “…they wore thru their enamel by the time they were middle aged.” Then what happened?
Regarding caries, Dr. Sorrentino wrote:
Caries was just about non-existent because simple sugars and the refined carbohydrates that cause them were just not present in any Paleolithic diet. Since the Paleolithic covered such a vast period of time and many, many different populations it is important to remember that there is no one “Paleolithic Diet,” but rather a continuum or “envelope” of certain related types of foodstuffs that were consumed. These included but were not limited to fish, shellfish, leafy green plants, root vegetables, and fruit in season. It was interesting to note that there is decay in some lowland gorillas. It is present mostly as interproximal decay on the upper anterior teeth. It was speculated that sucking on fruit or raiding human garbage dumps, common in the area, caused this. In either case it shows that our closest living relatives are not very well adapted to eat sugar either.
Read the rest.
Are these healthy teeth a result of proper diet, dental self-care, dentistry, Photoshop, or a combination?
I was perusing his website looking for reliable information on flossing and Water Pik-like devices and their proper roles in periodontal disease and caries prevention. I didn’t find much other than recommendations to eat a paleo diet, naturally low in concentrated sugars and refined starches, especially grains.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Dr. Guyenet has a recent post on The Potato Diet. It caught my eye since I include potatoes in my version of the paleo diet. He starts thusly:
In 2010, I wrote a series of blog posts on the health properties of potatoes. The evidence showed that potatoes are non-toxic, filling per calorie, remarkably nutritious, and can be eaten as almost the sole source of nutrition for extended periods of time (though I’m not recommending this).
Follow all of
Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes
Dr. Guyenet’s links and you’re sure to learn something new about potatoes.
Thanks to Dr. Stephan Guyenet and Jeremy Landen for this sugar consumption graph. I’d never seen one going this far back in time.
Dr. Guyenet writes:
It’s a remarkably straight line, increasing steadily from 6.3 pounds per person per year in 1822 to a maximum of 107.7 lb/person/year in 1999. Wrap your brain around this: in 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12 ounce can of soda every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that added sugars provide 17% of the total calories in the average American diet. A typical carbonated soda contain the equivalent of 10 tsp (50 ml) of sugar. The average U.S. adult eats 30 tsp (150 ml) daily of added sweeteners and sugars.
Note that added sugars overwhelmingly supply only one nutrient: pure carbohdyrate without vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, antioxidants, etc.
Do you think sugar consumption has anything to do with diseases of affluence, also known as diseases of modern civilization? I do.
Was our pancreas designed to handle this much sugar? Apparently not, judging from skyrocketing rates of diabetes and prediabetes.
Dr. Stephan Guyenet recently interviewed Dr. C. Vicky Beer about her experience with the paleo diet in her patients, diabetic or not. Dr. Beer commented about people with diabetes specifically:
Every patient I have ever had with diabetes who has adhered to the paleo diet for most of the time has experienced dramatic results. Every one of them has been able to reduce their blood sugars and reduce their medications significantly, and in some instances, stop their medicine altogether. This is not unlike other more known popular diets such as South Beach or Zone, which are actually quite similar to the Paleo diet in composition.
Just thought you might like to know.
Steve Parker, M.D.
PS: When I write “paleo diet,” you could substitute Old Stone Age, Stone Age, or caveman diet.