Thursday, June 11, 2009

Five ways to Get Fat

Yes, you did read the title correctly. Today's post is nothing more than a poorly veiled attempt at a bit of reverse psychology. Here we look instead at some dietary strategies that are guaranteed to help you stack on unwanted bodyfat in double-quick time.

So, if these sound familiar then you should probably consider giving the opposite approach a try....

1. Eat large portions of energy dense food - Studies find that when told to eat only until full, people will overeat when confronted with larger portions of energy dense food. One study showed a remarkable 800 calorie difference in a day when the participants were confronted with the option of lower energy/smaller portions. Portion control is often the first stop in figuring out why your eating plan may not be working.

2. Skip Breakfast - Guaranteed to lead to both poor food choices and more of it than if you had eaten a good breakfast, including some protein. N.B: Cornflakes and Orange Juice is NOT an example of a good breakfast.

3. Drinking beers and lagers - Unfortunately beer intake can be a direct contributor to the infamous beer belly and the research does support this with studies showing a clear link between alcohol intake and increased abdominal fat deposits in men (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13556219772912).

Of all the various forms of alcohol, beer is in fact probably the worst one when it comes to weight gain and there are several key reasons for this. The combination of simple sugars and alcohol in beer send our hormonal system off the wall causing increases in both insulin resistance and cortisol. If our body grows less sensitive to insulin then we progressively release more and more, which encourages the body to store more fat. Cortisol, which is an adrenal hormone (the alcohol causes large releases of this) causes abdominal fat storage (there is plenty of research now showing the link between high cortisol levels and abdominal fat storage), while also telling the body to keep ignoring the insulin it is producing. As if that wasn't bad enough it also affects other areas of the body - breaking down muscle for energy, which slows our metabolism, affecting thyroid hormone production and lowering testosterone levels.

It gets worse, because as we age our testosterone levels start to naturally drop, which means that the effect of drinking is more magnified in older men. Increased fat storage at the waist then causes men to start to produce estrogen - the female sex hormone - and before long you have man boobs! This is caused by an enzyme in our body called Aromatase which converts testosterone into estrogen. Surprise, surprise, alcohol increases the activity of Aromatase.

Alcohol has a few other interactions that can harm fat loss efforts, for instance it can block absorption of essential nutrients such as Zinc, Magnesium, and the B-Vitamins. It can also affect how we metabolise essential fatty acids and it can create further stress responses through its diuretic actions (dehydrating the body).

Of course it is simplifying things a bit too just blame beer for this, stress can make this situation even worse by increasing cortisol levels in the body, preventing good sleep patterns, and leading to poor food choices (refined carbohydrates in particular) - all of which can lead to a 'beer belly'. Of course you can still get the 'beer belly' look without the beer, by consuming large quantities of any alcohol (some of which have more pronounced effects than others), along with eating a diet high in sugars and having poor sleep patterns you can recreate the metabolic circumstances that lead to increased abdominal fat storage.

4. Eat high sugar/high fat combination foods Foods high in sugar and fat, while tasting pretty good, are a surefire recipe for stacking on weight at the middle. A good diet should have an appreciable amount of quality fat in as it is essential to health, but pairing up crappy fats with sugars (in particular hydrogenated fats with artificial sugars like high-fructose corn syrup - HFCS) is a nutritional disaster zone. Sugar sends our insulin levels sky-high telling us to store away all those calories packed in to the food itself. So, to gain fat - keep insulin levels high, and to lose fat, get them under control (though not always low - as insulin is also anabolic and at times is needed for growth!).

5. Eat fast and late. Fast food, perhaps is best named for the speed at which most people tend to devour it. Chewing food aids digestion and hence helps with absorption of key nutrients. Poor digestion is particularly likely to lead to poor health and often weight gain. Combine this with taking in a whole heap of food late at night and you have the final nail in the coffin for a healthy lean lifestyle.

Armed with these top tips you should now be able to gain weight - mostly bodyfat - with the greatest of ease. Of course, if that isn't your desire then simple reversal of these practices should give you an idea of how simple dietary changes can make a huge impact on your weight and health!

3 comments:

Tim said...

yay! Got any more tips?
1 - Already eating large portions of fairly dense food - 3x a day + snacks.
2 - For most of my life I skipped breakfast. Just breaking that habit.
3 - I've definitely got the beers covered

Steps 4 and 5 however, I do appear to be avoiding. Not sure they're such great options.

So, why am I finding it so hard to put on weight?
Super-fast metabolism? Worms?

Not kidding, the only way I can put on weight is to eat like a bastard, high carb protein shakes, and resistance training.. and still really struggle to get results.

(So, how many of you *hate* me now?)

Team Aegis said...

Are you trying to gain fat?? If so then add in high sugar laden foods such as ice cream and cheesecake, preferably eaten late at night.

however, if getting some more muscle is your goal then, make sure you are eating enough - this is where most people fall down - and use slow-releasing carbs, excellent post-workout nutrition, BCAA's during the workout (40-60g), creatine or beta-alanine cycled on/off and get your testosterone levels sorted along with your digestion and gut health. Ensuring you have adequate zinc and sufficient stomach acid for example are important factors. Good luck!

Liska said...

I get fat without trying LOL.

But seriously, I am looking forward to doing circuits twice a week!