On Lipolysis, Ketosis, Insulin and the Perils of Sugar – Robert Atkins – Claudio Saponaro

• Lipolysis is the biochemical process of dissolving fat.
• When you dissolve fat, it breaks down into glycerol and other fatty acids, which in turn break down into byproducts called ketones. When this happens you are enjoying a state called ketosis.
• Atkins initiates ketosis by restricting carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day, a level that is then gradually increased as you move on through the phases of Atkins.

The Perils of Sugar
“…The net result of the historical switch in the american diet was that sugar intake, which had averaged 12 pounds a year per person in 1828, was nearly ten times that in 1928. Remember, too, that if you don’t take your sugar straight, you’ll find it already sprinkled into a thousand different foods and beverages before they come to your table. The latest Department of Agriculture statistics show that the average American consumed 124 pounds of caloric sweeteners (principally refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup) in 1975.

By 1999 it had risen to 158 pounds. This translates into an average of nearly 750 calories from sugar a day, which means by conservative reckoning, over one-third of all the calories an adult puts into his or her body each day comes from nutritionally empty and metabolically harmful caloric sweeteners.

Those figures represent 190 grams of sugar (and corn syrup) a day. Compare that with the 300 grams of carbohydrate the government expects us to consume each day, and we see that sugar now comprises over sixty percent of the carbohydrate total.

Diets high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates radically increase the body’s production of insulin, and insulin is the best single index of adiposity. That final word is medical jargon for fat.

You could, of course, ignore this fact and attempt to control your weight by calorie counting and deprivation. That is, you could direct yourself to the quantity instead of the quality of your diet. That’s pretty much what conventional diets advise. However, the likelihood that you’ll permanently lose weight by controlling your caloric intake is almost nil. The whole problem of sugar was compounded by the low fat messages we were wrongly bombarded with during the 1980s and 1990s.To make a low-fat product taste good, manufacturers add lots of sugar. Now, in the United States, the aisles in the supermarket are crammed with low-fat or diet

cookies and crackers,
ice cream,
frozen cakes and pies,
soft drinks and
white bread filled with sugar.

This is not real food; it’s invented, fake food. It’s filled with sugar and highly refined carbohydrates and with chemically altered trans fats (they are listed as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on food labels), not to mention plenty of other chemical additives.

Because it’s incredibly profitable, it’s also widely distributed. But there isn’t a person on this planet who should be eating it. On all four phases of Atkins, you select from an increasingly liberal array of foods that are sources of the healthy carbohydrates. Your overall intake of them also gradually increases. Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you can eat larger helpings of healthy carbohydrate foods, as long as you stay below the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance (CCLM).

When you control carbohydrate consumption sufficiently, your body will switch from burning glucose, derived from carbohydrate, to burning primarily fat as its energy source


Insulin is an hormone. Almost everyone knows that insulin is given to people with a certain kind of diabetes, to help control their blood sugar levels when their own supplies become depleted or insufficient. Insulin is one of the most powerful and efficient substances that the body uses to control the use, distribution and storage of energy. At its most basic, insulin is the control hormone for glucose, a basic form of sugar. Your body is an energy machine, never resting, always metabolically active-and it powers its operations mainly through the use of glucose in the blood, which is why glucose is interchangeably called blood sugar.

The body must maintain a certain level of glucose in the blood at all times. So when there is no carbohydrate food source to make glucose, the liver will actually convert protein to glucose.

Remarkably, even on a prolonged, total fast, a healthy body can maintain its glucose level within a rather narrow normal range. As a general rule, of course, the body obtains its principal supply of fuel from food.

On What Happens to a Meal
You sit down at the table and consume a three-course dinner. Somewhere between chewing and excreting, your body absorbs certain substances from your food, mostly across the surface of your small intestine.

a) From the carbohydrate you eat, your body will absorb sugars, all of which are, or quickly and easily become, glucose.

b) From fat, it absorbs glycerol and fatty acids.

c) From protein, it absorbs amino acids, the building blocks of all cells.

Obviously, if you eat a lot of carbohydrate, you’ll end up with a lot of glucose in your blood. All that energy coursing through your system. Eat sugar, starches and fruits and you’re going to get those blood-sugar levels up fast. If you love candy bars, perhaps you’re saying, “That’s great-the more I eat, the more energy I’ll have.”

As Your Blood Sugar Rises
Consuming carbohydrates impacts your blood-sugar levels. The amount of carbs – and the type – will determine how your blood sugar responds. To be useful to your body, blood sugar has to be transported to your cells. Think of insulin as the barge that transports glucose from your blood to your cells. Once it reaches the cells, three things can happen to that glucose:

1 – It can be mobilized for immediate energy;
2 – it can be converted into glycogen for later use as a source of energy;
3 – or it can be stored as fat.

Insulin is manufactured in a part of your pancreas called the Islets of Langerhans. As the sugar level in your blood goes up, the pancreas releases insulin to move the sugar out of the blood. It then transports the blood sugar to your body’s cells for their energy needs. But as we previously mentioned, when these needs are met the liver converts excess glucose into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles, where it is readily available for energy use.

Once all the glycogen storage areas are filled, the body has to do something with excess glucose. The liver converts the remaining glucose to fat, which becomes the “storage tanks” of fat on your belly, thighs, buttocks and elsewhere. That’s why insulin is called “the fat-producing hormone.”

The main chemical constituent of all this fat is triglyceride, the very same triglyceride that, in your blood, can be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Insulin is a pretty efficient worker. If it were not, your cells could not get enough glucose, their basic fuel, and blood-glucose levels would rise while the cells searched for other fuels – first for protein in your muscles and organs, and then for fat in your fat stores. That’s why people with poorly controlled, insulin-deficient diabetes can lose weight when no insulin is present.

And that’s why a person on a low-calorie diet may lose lean body mass. (This shouldn’t happen on Atkins, where sufficient calories and protein are consumed to meet the body’s energy needs.)

On the other hand, excessive carbohydrate intake results in high amounts of blood sugar and may, in turn, overstimulate insulin production. When this happens, it causes a drop in blood sugar, robbing the body of energy for the cells.

The result of the process is destabilized blood-sugar levels, quite possibly causing

brain fog,
shakiness and

Hyperinsulinism is the condition that results from too much insulin being produced by your body. Foods rich in carbohydrates-especially sugar, honey, milk and fruit, which contain simple sugars, and refined carbohydrates such as flour, white rice and potato starch-are readily absorbed through the stomach, so they speedily convert to glucose. When these foods are eaten in excess, they require a lot of insulin for transport.

Foods made of protein and fat, on the other hand, require little or no insulin. (Protein in excess converts to glucose in the liver and requires some insulin to transport it to the cells; fat requires essentially none.)

On Insulin resistance
And what happens when there is too much insulin? As an overweight person becomes heavier, insulin’s effectiveness may decline. The cells become desensitized to the action of insulin so it can no longer effectively transport glucose to them. This is known in medical circles as insulin resistance, which quickly leads to hyperinsulinism.

When insulin is ineffective in taking glucose into the cells, the liver converts more and more glucose to stored fat.

Your body is, in fact, becoming a fat-producing machine. Your body’s hormonal system is now in desperate straits. At this point, insulin is being secreted more and more frequently to deal with high blood-sugar levels, and it is doing its job less and less effectively. Which makes you crave sweets and carbs, which compounds the problem in a vicious cycle. In time, even the insulin receptors that convert glucose to fat start getting worn out, forecasting diabetes.

A Host of Other Health Issues
Here are some further reasons why high insulin levels can lead to big problems:

• Insulin increases salt and water retention, a recipe for high blood pressure.
• Insulin is directly involved in creating atherosclerotic plaques, which, if not controlled, can lead to heart disease.
• High insulin levels have been shown to correlate with high levels of triglycerides and low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

Obesity increases insulin resistance
This means that you can sharply reduce your risk of blood-sugar disorders – and by extension, heart disease and other ailments – by simply keeping your weight down and controlling carbohydrate intake. Even if you have a hereditary predisposition to diabetes, you may be able to stall or completely avoid its onset.

The Great Fat Meltdown
Once you’ve been heavy for some time, you’re in a metabolic trap, a sort of high-walled box created in large part by high insulin levels. Fortunately, there is a key to unlatch this box. A perfectly natural bodily process called lipolysis can lift up the lid and let hope shine in. Lipolysis means “the process of dissolving fat.”

When you burn fat, it breaks down into glycerol and other fatty acids. In the earlier editions of his book Robert Atkins used the word ketosis to describe this wonderful process. In fact, here is exactly what he said:

“The term `ketosis,’ when it applies to the benign, diet-induced type is really a shortening of the term ketosis/lipolysis.”

The Atkins Nutritional Approach stimulates the process of lipolysis, a state in which you are burning your fat for energy. A secondary process of lipolysis is ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you are taking in a low level of carbohydrates from the food you eat, as you will during the Induction phase of Atkins.

Lipolysis results in the creation of ketones (that’s ketosis), a perfectly normal and natural function of the body.In the minds of laypeople (and even some ill-informed doctors) ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis.

The latter is the consequence of insulin-deficient subjects having out-of-control blood-sugar levels, a condition that can occur as well in alcoholics and people in a state of extreme starvation.

Ketosis and ketoacidosis may sound vaguely alike, but the two conditions are virtually polar opposites. They can always be distinguished from each other by the fact that the diabetic in ketoacidosis has been consuming excessive carbohydrates and has high blood sugar, in sharp contrast to the fortunate person doing Atkins. Many of them do not bring carbohydrate intake down to a level that will permit lipolysis.

Atkins, on the other hand, starts off at 20 grams of carbohydrates. Each individual then proceeds at his or her own rate, gradually adding back both the amount and the variety of carbohydrate foods. Lipolysis simply means that you’re burning your fat stores and using them as the source of fuel they were meant to be.

The by-products of burning fat are ketones
When your body releases ketones – which it will do in your breath and your urine – it is chemical proof that you’re consuming your own stored fat. And the more ketones you release, the more fat you have dissolved. Lipolysis is the biochemical method of weight loss – the alternative to using glucose for fuel, the very process that has made you heavy. Many “scientists” are of the opinion that you need glucose for fuel. That statement is only partially true. Ketones provide the exception. They are derived from fat when lipolysis is occurring, and are the other source of fuel that energizes our cells and powers our brain and other vital organs. Glucose and ketones are the only two fuels that come from food. (Alcohol is a third fuel.)

If you’re not in lipolysis, you’re in “glucosis”. The two fuel sources are your body’s alternative, completely parallel options for energy metabolism. When you dial down the volume of insulin production, as you do in lipolysis, your body is equipped to burn your own body fat in a similar way. It takes place smoothly and is self-sustaining.

Most obese people become so adept at releasing insulin that their blood is never really free of it and they’re never able to use up their fat stores. By primarily burning fat instead of carbohydrates, lipolysis breaks the cycle of excess insulin and resultant stored fat. So by following a fat-containing, controlled carbohydrate regimen, you bypass the process of converting large amounts of carbohydrate into glucose. When your carbohydrate intake drops low enough to induce fat burning, abnormal insulin levels return to normal, perhaps for the first time in years or decades. But there is a significant difference from fasting.

A prolonged fast can be dangerous and has one severe metabolic disadvantage: The body burns not only fat for energy, it also burns protein. This means that it burns off some of the body’s lean muscle tissue, which is clearly not desirable.

Investigation has shown that on an eating plan where you are in lipolysis, and the carbohydrate intake is low enough to result in ketosis, virtually no lean tissue is lost, only fatty tissue. And that’s why, for extremely overweight individuals, it is possible to be in lipolysis, and at the carbohydrate level that creates ketosis, for six months to a year, and confidently know that they will suffer no ill effects of any kind. The beauty of lipolysis is that it bypasses the agony of low-calorie dieting. You can lose more weight on a higher number of calories…”

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#Lipolysis #Ketosis #Insulin #Perils #Sugar #Robert #Atkins #Claudio #Saponaro

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