Random thoughts on Why We Get Fat

Why We Get Fat:  So I’m on a cruise ship in parts unknown of the Carribean which has given me the opportunity for people watching in their natural habitat.  Folks, we don’t need a book, or this blog, or any scholarly thesis.  And there are a lot of Europeans on this cruise in addition to the Americans for my observation of the modern human in the wild.  We EAT TOO MUCH. 

OK so you’re on vacation.  Great.  All the food is included in the cost.  Great.  Does that mean you have to shovel as much food as humanly possible down the pie hole three meals a day and midnight buffet?  Apparently for some people!  Do you not get your money’s worth if you don’t eat something from every station or something?  Over at GT’s blog they’re again debating the stupid 20 cal/day balance.  It’s not that folks!  It’s if you spend 10 days on a cruise ship and eat 2000 cal/day more than you burn lying around the deck drinking another 1000 cal/day in cocktails, you will disembark weighing several pounds more than when you came aboard.  If you don’t do anything to compensate upon arriving home, then you’re going to be a little fatter until the next time you let your hair down on vacation or a party, etc.    Thinking back, this WAS me.  Perhaps not stuffing myself silly, but definitely overeating.  So looking around at other’s plates its really a no-brainer why some of the passengers are heavier than others.  Are there thin folks with lots of food?  Sure.  But they apparently have the metabolisms to eat this way.  I also note that it’s not the ones walking laps around or putting in some miles on the elipticals that I later see trying to satisfy that exercise induced hunger I keep hearing about. 

So how am I faring now?  I’m doing quite well!  I’m still comfortably fitting my size 8 pants for casual dinner and karaoke last night.  I had breakfast the first couple of days but have skipped it since.   I just can’t eat 3 meals in a day anymore.  I did feel a bit badly for the heavier lady behind me at the omelet station the first morning though.  All I had on my plate was a few lox and bacon and I ordered 2 eggs over easy.  She was ordering an egg white omelet and commented on how good my breakfast looked.  Felt like telling her to go for it but bit my tongue.   At lunch I make sure to get my veggies in and a protein.  But, had an ABSOLUTELY sinful brownie (it was more like warm melty fudge) with ice cream the other day … shared it with the hubby and both of us felt like we were on sugar highs!  Dinner I let my hair down a bit and have my starch and a few bites of dessert IF it’s worth it.  Two appetizers are not out of the question ;-)   Thing is, I really enjoy the food I eat.  I’m not sure I did back when I was eating so much.  I would probably lose weight if it weren’t for the increased EtOH consumption, because I’m very active on vacation.  On sea days I have been walking, taking (running up) the stairs, etc.  On shore days I get all the exercise I need trying to keep up with my brother-in-law (requires quite the power walking on these short legs o’ mine!) and snorkeling.  No gym required!

Ahhh well.  I’ll check in sometime soon with some comments.  Have a great day everyone!


LeonRover said…
Not a Random Thought or if random, one which has a high prior probability of occurring.

Not only is it Carb-Sane but Carb&Fat-Sane!

It exemplifies what George Bray refers to as the Hedonic Effect when one is faced with mouth watering Abundance, mostly sugar & fat flavoured!

I once went on a cruise on the Danube organised by a German Holiday company with a mainly German clientele. One was faced with: Breakfast, Eleven o'clock Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Tea at 4, Dinner at 7 AND for those who wanted it, An Eleven to Midnight snack. I was gob-Smacked but most of the Bavarians were gob-Chomping. It was 6 days of all day feasting. I cannot recall what happened to my waist-line.

Unfortunately, any dietary plan, whether Calorie Restricted, Low Carb, Low Fat, LoBag, Insulin Reduction etc etc, fails in the face of mouth-watering choices. It can only succeed by changing what is on the table at meal times.

My mother used to tell us: No Dessert unless you finish what is on your Plate (the Main).

Wish you Joy with Control.
kds said…
Hi CarbSane,

I've gone through a number of posts on your blog (a ton of which were well-researched and informative, btw), and I recall you taking issue at some comments which you felt were putting the words "gluttony" and "sloth" in your mouth. However, when I read posts like your latest one it seems as if G&S is precisely the reason you're citing as to 'why' people are getting fat. Indeed, I agree that people are just eating too damn much, but at the same time I find it hard to imagine that cruise ship-go'ers in the relatively lean 1970s were particularly chaste with their buffet selections.

I'll admit your anecdote certainly seems intuitive in many ways, but I also ponder the apparent luck of the 3 or 4 guys in my med school class who consumed 3500 kcals plus half a case of beer every day over winter break...but who will also shed those lbs with little or no effort in the coming weeks.
Muata said…
@kds - I witnessed something similar during my undergrad years. A lot of my buddies would gain a couple of pounds over the break simply because many of them, like your med school buddies, were eating more food and just veggin' out. When they came back after the break, they were faced with the same awful cafeteria food and moving a lot more on campus (e.g., going from class to class, intra-mural sports. etc.).

I wonder if the same applies to your classmates?
kds said…
Muata- unfortunately, the awfulness of hospital cafeteria food here is derived mostly from how unhealthy it is, not its unpalatability. Burgers, chili dogs, french fries, jalapeno poppers, chicken fingers, roasts with flour-heavy gravy, mashed potatoes, tons of various desserts, ice cream bars, sodas and juices. Not to mention that pretty much every nurses' desk and doctors' lounge is filled with donuts and crackers.

Having a semblance of a healthy diet is pretty difficult in the 3rd and 4th years of med school, and for me, just thinking about an hour of cardio makes me cringe when I realize I still have to study after being on surgery for 12 hours. If anything, most of these guys are less active after school is back in.
Debbie Cusick said…
Yeah, maybe we eat too much. But you can hardly use a cruise to make that decision. I went on a cruise last March, my first ever. Did I watch what I ate? Yeah, to some extent. I drank only water tea and/or black coffee the whole cruise. I never touched the dessert stations. But I still ate a lot! Lots of sausages at the buffet breakfast bar. Usually double entrees at dinner time. Though I only ate three times a day (no between-meal snacking), but a lot at those meals!

And I did come home 2 pounds heavier than when I had left. But for someone of my weight 2 pounds is not even statistically significant. And then the month I came home from the cruise I suddenly dropped 10 pounds without changing a thing about my eating plan, and I had been stalled for well over 6 months at that time. It was as if the overeating on the cruise had given my metabolism a shot in arm.

So I'm glad you weren't there on my cruise watching me eat. :-)
Karen said…
Would you pleae quit having fun and get back to your blog! Lol :0)
Hope you are having a great time
CarbSane said…
I'm baaaaaaack!

@kds: Not sure if you've posted here before, if not Welcome! I hope to get to respond to all of your comments soon. I do believe that the obesity epidemic -- why we are en masse getting fatter -- is no mystery and it is due largely to overeating for one's physiology. Does this mean every obese person eats more than a lean counterpart? No. Does this mean that I think this vacation binging is every day behavior for most (lean or obese)? No. A goodly chunk of those who get fatter year on year probably get that way "passively". I'm sure even with my attempts to keep intake under control there was way more calories in some of my choices than were I to prepare them at home.

I don't like the terms gluttony and sloth for the most part, although there was certainly some overt gluttony going on. Those terms carry a moral judgment with them, and I don't like how anyone who believes we get fat by eating too much is some heartless jerk painting all fat people as lazy slobs blaming the *victim*. Maybe I'm becoming one of those annoying "ex smoker types", but I've been obese and I was NOT a hapless victim, I had a hand in my fate.

@scall0way: Welcome to the Asylum! Congrats on your weight loss :) I can assure you I wasn't scrutinizing the plates of all the cruisers tsk tsking. One thing I've aspired to my entire adult life is to be able to eat like a thin person so I do the people-watching thing. Your point is well taken that behavior on vacation is likely not typical. I don't believe most folks who let things go a bit on vacations eat that way 24/7, but then even this seems to be a difference. The heavier folks seemed to definitely be letting their hair down a bit more than thinner ones. The regular exercisers didn't use a vacation as an excuse to take off from their regular routine. They used the ample facilities on board. I know that in the past I would never diet on vacation, that was not a time to watch what I ate! So there was always the price to pay upon return. That said, I definitely did my planned "cheats" on vacations when I was losing the bulk of my weight early on. And I too found my size whooshes would occur in the wakes of those. I think it breaks the body out of "starvation mode" from long term caloric reductions (and if you're losing weight you're eating less) to feed it a bit so the body dials the metabolism back up a bit. But now that I've been at my reduced weight for a while eating more would just add weight I would have to work to get back off.
Galina L. said…
I am glad you are having fan. I didn't go out of my house for holidays, but anyway food in my house was abandon due to my attempt to be the most accommodating hostess for my son and his girlfriend,both skinny college kids. I manage to stay on ketosis all the time and didn't gained any weight and didn't have strong urges to eat carbs. I know that the strict low-carbing is not exactly what your favor, but I am one of those for whom is works the best. Other members of my family don't have to share my diet because they are different metabolically and all naturally thin.
Anya said…
Check out Tom Naughton's interview with Gary.
It contains some interesting paragraphs:
CarbSane said…
Hey Anya... were you looking over my cyber shoulder over there? LOL. I just read it and will be putting up a post on some aspects of it (mostly the IR stuff) sometime soon. Thanks for the heads up!
CarbSane said…
Hi Galina, welcome to My Asylum! It would be somewhat incorrect to say that I don’t favor VLC diets because, for me, that was the nutritional basis for my weight loss. Keeping carbs under 20g/day produced weight/size losses at a very motivating rate which is all part of the mix for long-term success, all without counting anything. I was one who spontaneously ate a whole lot less when cutting out the carbs. My issues with the diet stem from my own shortcomings in being able to adhere to such a restrictive regime for all eternity. Shortcomings many share which is why so many fail to maintain losses achieved on any plan. I recognize that there are other reasons many adhere to ketogenic versions of LC, and surely if I experienced adverse reactions to carbs that would probably be more motivational for me to adhere to such a diet. But I don’t. I’ve also shared here two other personal reasons to question the long term effects of such a diet: (1) since LOSING weight the first time with low carb, my body type has seemingly permanently changed from “protective pear” to “risky apple”, and (2) due to an occasional racing heart I became concerned when I discovered the correlation of elevated free fatty acids with sudden cardiac death … not to mention discovering a TON of disconcerting info on the deleterious effects of elevated NEFA. Now, it may be a trade-off worth making. Or it may be that I’m missing something. But I would rather err on the side of less extreme for the long run, especially since VLC by itself had stopped producing losses for almost 2 years now. And, as you know, my other issues with low carbing stem, not from opinions on eating this way per se, but on the promulgation of known flawed and outright false theories of how LC works.

I do believe that, although I did used to "cheat" on vacations and such during my weight loss, it seems that thinner folks seem to do deviate less from their regular routines than the heavier folks. This would agree with my own behavior. When heavier I just let it all hang out on vacations. Go for a walk? What are you nuts?! I'm on vacation!! For almost 3 years during my losses and maintaining, I still "cheated" on vacations. Not binging, but a bipolar eating pattern if you will. For the past roughly 6 months now, I've made it through lots of traveling, family reunions, TG, Christmas and 10 days vacation eating much the same most days. For ME, I believe this to be healthier than the swings, and, if anything, adding a few more carbs daily has resulted in a small amount of further losses.
Debbie Cusick said…
Well I must say that since losing 100 pounds on low carb my shape has changed too - but going from the total apple it had become to much more of the pear-shape I had had most of my life. I now have a *waist* again. It's an amazing difference. Even though it's still a large waist, just quite a bit smaller than my even larger hips!

But I'm not a scientist so no idea how or why low carb causes elevated free fatty acids, or elevated NEFA (heck, no clue what NEFA even IS, despite googling to get the definition.)I've scanned some of your other blog posts with statements like " the one thing that is most predictive of SCD is elevated free fatty acids (NEFA/FFA), a characteristic of Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes (Type I & II) ... and VLCD!! While many with pre-diabetes/IR/Type II successfully use carbohydrate restriction to successfully control blood glucose levels, this can be at the expense of further elevation of circulating free fatty acids."

Damn, just when I find myself starting to feel good about things in my lift I find something like this to send my tail-spinning down into despair again! Sheesh, I'm at high risk for SCD. That sure makes my day.
CarbSane said…
Hey there! Fats in our bodies are constantly cycled between the triglyceride form (3 fatty acids + glycerol) and free fatty acids (actually they aren't even "free" then, they are attached to albumin protein molecules. I do NOT know for sure that LC is dangerous for things like SCD per se, just that I DO very much worry over it at times when I read various studies that scare the living crap out of me.

I am one who feels that in general we wear our health on our sleeves sorta speak. By that I mean that if I'm feeling great and looking healthy, it's unlikely that I have some underlying health sapping thing going on in my body. So I often reassure myself with this belief.

Do not despair! Just consider perhaps getting a NEFA level on your next lipid panel if they'll do that for you.
Anonymous said…
The secret to buffets is really very simple. First, drink some water without ice, at least half a liter. Then go around to each food station and imagine yourself eating the item on display. Go through the whole process of smelling, chewing, swallowing, licking your lips afterwards. Then move onto the next item. After you've finished "eating with your eyes", repair to the salad bar and load up a huge plate with spinach and broccoli plus a small piece of lean meat on top. If you must have seconds, then load up a second huge plate of lettuce and green beens with a small piece of lean fish on top.