Humans evolved to naturally seek high-calorie foods. If we hadn’t then our species would have likely gone extinct. Feast and famine cycles very much ruled much of our species’ time on Earth but no longer when I can find quick food on nearly every street corner.
Fighting Our Urge For High Calorie Foods
Early humans didn’t have access to a menu full of 1500 calorie meals at McDonald’s or Fuzzy’s Taco. When they encountered a plentiful bounty it was something like a stand of walnut trees. The urge to take on those delectable calories is what kept them alive. Those humans likely ate their fill, carried more, and then went searching for more food. While doing this they most likely burned tons of calories. Although their bodies were wired to make fat stores too, they simply couldn’t build fat stores beyond necessary function.
One of the keys to storing fat is the insulin response the calorie source triggers.
This Is How We Get Fat
What is the insulin response? Simply put it is a chemical process in the body that makes fat storage possible. It is impossible to store body fat without enough insulin. The process of creating new body fat is called lipogenesis.
The difference between what these early humans ate, and what people today eat, is that those early foods lacked the aggressive insulin response triggered by today’s foods. Our body’s normal calorie allocation process is first repair the body, then fuel it, then store any leftovers. To store however, there has to be enough insulin in the blood to make storing possible. This is why you simply cannot eat enough celery to get fat.
Those walnuts our ancestors gorged on lacked the ingredients required to overwhelm their body’s natural processes. Instead, they had nutrients useful in repairing damaged parts of the body and a more balanced caloric profile. Not that you can’t still gain weight by eating too many walnuts, you can. I know this first hand unfortunately.
Having a candy bar and a soda though, has much more caloric aggressiveness to it. In fact, that duo is so aggressive, thanks to those easily broken down refined sugars, that those calories basically jump the line in our body and go straight to fat storage. Our bodies have not evolved to handle such unbalanced caloric inputs. Naturally occurring sugars, like in fruit, are balanced with a good dose of fiber which slows their release into our body. These monster quick-release calories in refined sugars trigger monster insulin responses.
The large doses of insulin overwhelm our bodies normal calorie traffic cop, who directs those calories to repair, refuel, or store. Instead, the calories all get directed to store, store store. This is basically what happens when you eat too much on Thanksgiving. Instead of all those calories repairing your body and giving you energy, you fall asleep.
Eating Too Much On Occasion Isn’t Bad, In Fact It’s Completely Natural
What’s bad is when you eat too much too often. By too often I mean probably more than once a week. The rest of the week you should a little less to help burn off the excess from that one indulgent day.
Why is it that some people can watch what they eat while others are overcome and want to eat more than they should? I don’t know, but “naturally” thin people do not magically process calories differently than you or me, they just eat differently. Let me be clear here that when I am saying “naturally” thin people, I’m not speaking about the 0.1% of people who actually can eat anything and still not gain fat or muscle. I mean the 99.9% of people you see and think are “naturally” thin.
Most of these “naturally” thin people have just learned to overcome that evolutionary part that urges them to “eat up because tomorrow you’ll starve”. They can stare at the same cookie platter as the other 70% of America and limit themselves to a cookie or two. We have biological impulses, but we are thinking individuals who can override those impulses. A man may have a biological urge to spread his DNA to as many woman as possible but he is perfectly capable of ignoring that urge and remaining faithful to one woman. To thrive in the modern world we need to resist our biological impulses in regards to food and use our reason to choose healthy options.
You can be offended by the advice here or you can make some choices. The fact is, if you eat too much calorie aggressive food, and trigger that insulin response, you will gain weight. You can eat large amounts of food as long as you eat the right foods. Foods like celery, cucumber, carrots and bell peppers are foods you can snack on all day without a care in the world.
Foods like candy, raisins, and sugary drinks (which are the ultimate calorie monsters as they are sneaky little devils) will cause your body to store fat. It’s okay to have a free day, provided that free day is still reasonable, and that your others days all cumulatively makeup for the gross overindulgence of your free day. If you can overcome our evolution and retrain your mind to police your body and your choices, then you will see yourself losing the extra weight and keeping the pounds off.
A Web Developer by trade, future data scientist.
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.