That’s true to a certain extent, but there’s more to it than that—because there are forces behind the scenes that are helping to build your blubber supply.
Here are five factors that accelerate fat accumulation, as well as five ways you can fight back.
Five things that make you build fat
1) Getting too many Omega-6 fatty acids
How they build fat: These are converted into another fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which makes your fat cells divide.
Our typical diets are loaded with processed foods, corn, soy, meat from grain-fed animals and vegetable oils—all of which are heavy in Omega-6 fatty acids. So it's easy to see how the average person gets way too many.
2) Abnormal insulin level
How it builds fat: It increases the number of fat cells you have.
Signs that you may have abnormal insulin levels include dark patches of skin in the creases and under your arms, central obesity (fat collecting around your waist or under your chin) and irregular periods.
3) High intake of sugar
How it builds fat: It increases your blood insulin level, which in turn leads to number 2) above. It also triggers your fat cells to "pop up" and start making fat from sugar in your bloodstream.
In addition to table sugar, heaven knows sugar is hidden in practically every processed food imaginable and in the truckloads of soda the average person drinks.
4) Thiazolidinediones (a diabetes medication)
How they build fat: These stimulate fat cell division and increase fat storage. They've also been associated with a higher rate of heart attacks.
If you are on this type of medication for diabetes, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
How they build fat: They encourage the formation of free radicals, damage cell membranes and promote inflammation--all of which lead to fat deposits while impairing the healthy functioning of your cells.
Although the world is catching on that trans-fats are basically a death sentence, they’re still in many processed foods in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
Now, in an attempt to recoup the lost revenue from people getting wise to trans-fats, food companies, and fast food restaurants are instead using vegetable oils, but this is no better. When heated to high temperatures, vegetable oils degrade into dangerous oxidation products which, like trans-fats, can stir up inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease as well as Alzheimer’s.
So you’re trading one poison for another.
Fast food restaurants obviously deep fry at high temperatures, but note that vegetable oils are also heated during food manufacturing, especially when margarine is made.
So don’t be fooled by the “Trans-fat free!” exclamation on margarine labels because it’s still just as deadly.
The flip side
Just as there are factors that build fat, there are some that help your body eliminate it!
Five things that help you eliminate fat
How it eliminates fat: It reduces insulin levels and various inflammatory and fat-promoting chemicals.
So get your doctor’s OK, put on those walking shoes, dust off that treadmill, sign up for that dance class, hit the gym or pump some iron. Pick an activity you like and DO IT--at least 3-4 times a week.
How it eliminates fat: It increases levels of immune system chemicals that reduce inflammation.
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but many aren't getting nearly that much. So if you're guilty of being a nighthawk, start turning in earlier.
3) Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha
How it eliminates fat: It reduces your number of fat cells.
Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha is a small cell-signaling protein that is produced while you sleep. Yet another reason to get your Zzzzzz's.
4) A proper Omega-6: Omega-3 fatty acid ratio
How it eliminates fat: Having an imbalanced ratio of Omega-6: Omega-3 fatty acids sends a barrage of mixed signals to your cells, one of which tells them to store fat. So it's essential to have a ratio between 2:1 and 5:1.
Our typical diets are heavy in Omega-6 EFAs but severely lacking Omega-3 EFAs. Although Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish like salmon, most of the salmon available are farm-raised and contains high levels of contaminants like carcinogens, PCBs, and pesticides like dioxin and DDT.
So for most people, a quality fish oil formula is the best way to go.
5) Retinoids and carotenoids
How they eliminate fat: They help reduce your number of fat cells as well as curb your appetite.
Retinoids include vitamin A (in animal fat and meats) and vitamin A precursors (carotenoids) in vegetables.
If your diet is less-than-stellar, in addition to beefing up your consumption of whole foods, a top-notch multi-vitamin formula can help fill in the blanks where you may be lacking in nutrients.
Fight back at fat and win!