How to Lose Weight: Why Do I get Fat?

What takes place in the body when I eat and drink ?

Let us understand what takes place in the body when you eat and drink.
Chewing and swallowing : you take food into your mouth, grind it up and swallow.
Digestion : you break down food into small components.
Absorption : you take these small components from the gastro-intestinal tract into your blood stream.
Assimilation : you reassemble these small components in the liver and use them as building blocks.
Excretion : you get rid of waste materials by breathing, perspiring, urinating or defecting.

How does food get converted to fat in the body?

Fat stored in the body can be made from any food component – carbohydrates, proteins or fats. When food is eaten, it travels to the stomach and intestines. Enzymes break down food into glucose, amino-acids and minute droplets of fats. The fats travel to the liver and are processed to form fatty acids and glycerol. From the liver, the fatty-acids enter circulation where they are broken down further to release energy for immediate use by many organs. Any excess is reconverted to fatty acids and stored in fat cells under the skin and around the internal organs.


Fats stored in the body can be made from any food component (carbohydrates, proteins or fats). When food is eaten, it travels to the stomach and intestines. Enzymes breakdown the food into glucose, amino acids and minute droplets of fat. The fats travel to the liver, where they are processed. From the liver, the fats enter the circulatory system where they can be used for energy by many organs. Excess fats will be stored in the fat cells (1). When more energy is needed, fats are released. If the need continues, the cells will shrink but the nucleus remains the same (2). The glycerol is converted to glycogen, which is either broken down at once to release energy or stored in the liver’s glycogen storage system. When this is full, the glycogen is changed into fat and stored in body cells, making you over-weight, if a lot is stored there.

What is that makes people fat?

Prof. Sir Charles Dodds of the Royal Society of Medicine, conducted the following experiment :- He took people whose weights had been constant for many years and persuaded them to eat double or treble their normal amount of food. They did not put on weight.

He then overfed people whose weights had not remained constant in the past and found that they became fat.

From Prof. Dodds’ experiment, we learn that two people of the same size, doing the same work and eating the same food will react quite differently when they overeat. One will stay the same weight. Why? The answer is that of metabolism. The first category of people when given extra food responded to over- eating by increasing their metabolic rate, i.e. the rate of using of the food by the body, and burnt up the extra food. The second category of people showed no increase in metabolism, when over-fed, and simply changed the food into fat.

This fact about two people reacting quite differently when they overeat, has been known to us, and yet this fact never seems to be taken into account or explained by the various experts who write popular books and articles about slimming.

Ancient science of Ayurveda on the other hand , was well aware of this physiological fact, and in their text- book like ‘Bhava Prakash” they mention certain plants and their products that can successfully and safely combat obesity.

What exactly is metabolism?

Metabolism is the term used to include in one word all the complex chemical processes within the body which determine the growth and replacement of the body tissues, the production of body heat and energy necessary for muscular activity and other vital functions. In a sense then, what lay people call the life processes of the body, scientists call the meta- bolism.

But Doctor, I eat my food in normal quantities, then how do you account for my problem of obesity ?

The real question that needs answering about obesity is :

What is the cause of the fat man’s failure to use up as much energy as he takes in as food? It could be that although you only eat normal quantity, some defect in the way your body deals with food, deflects some of what you eat to your fat stores and keeps it there instead of letting you use it up for energy.

In other words you have a defect in your metabolism which a person with constant weight does not have. Too much attention has been paid to the input side of the energy equation and not enough to the possible causes of defective output. Even with a low food intake, a person gets fat because his output is small. And this need not be because of insufficient exercise, but because something is interfering with the smooth conversion of fuel to energy in his body and encouraging it’s storage as fat. Which means that something is wrong with his metabolism. The metabolic rate of every individual is different.

What is metabolic rate? Is there any test to determine it?

All individuals are metabolically different. One person’s metabolism may be more active or less active than another’s. The metabolism, then has a “rate”. The rate may be average, slow, or fast, as the case may be.

Just as you might judge the heat in a kettle by the amount of steam coming out from its spout, so too scientists have a way of determining the human metabolism rate.

The amount of carbon dioxide thrown off by the breath keeps pace with the heat production of the body. A apparatus has actually been devised to measure this output. A person’s internal heat production can be determined by taking into account his /her height and approximate skin area in relation to his/her carbon-dioxide output.

You can take a metabolism test usually twelve hours after you have eaten a light meal of about 70 degrees F. and when you are at absolute physical and mental rest. The result of this metabolic test is called the “Basal Metabolism Rate’. Doctors call it the B.M.R.

You must have seen a fire burning brightly and quickly in a draft. Well, in a sense, the basal metabolism rate is the draft in which the bodyfires burn – scientifically, ‘oxidation’ takes place. It is by oxidation that body heat is produced – that warmth of life, the 98.6 degrees F. temperature that your body has in health.

The rate of your basal metabolism has much to do with the question of food and body fat accumulation. Basically, body fat is food which has not been burned into heat or energy. Now if food is the fuel source of humanbody heat, and metabolism the medium that converts food into heat, there must be a definite relation between basal metabolism rate and fat production – and there is, a decided one.

A normal metabolism rate helps you greatly to stay just about normal in weight. A slow metabolism rate makes you tend to put on kilos, and a high metabolism rate is apt to keep you thin.

But my Doctor says that I have normal metabolism rate, then why am I fat?

To my mind, this is not strange because the basal metabolism rate, is a comparatively crude measurement of the “total” metabolism. A component of the total, such as fat metabolism, may be functioning abnormally without affecting the complete picture, just as an aberration of sugar metabolism in diabetes, is not reflected in the basal metabolism rate.

Doctor could there be any other reason for my obesity other than my metabolism ?

The underlying reason in more than 95 per cent of all cases of obesity, is an imbalance between energy output and energy intake. That is, the body in carrying out its functions, does not expend as much energy as it takes in through food and liquids. This is a disturbance in metabolism, and it shows up in three ways :-

The body forms fat at a rate that is faster than normal.

The body stores fat at a rate that is faster than normal. Fat formed in the digestive system quickly reaches the arms, the thighs, in the form of fat deposits – the deposits that stretch your skin and distort your shape.

The body disposes off stored fat at a rate that is slower than normal. This is why it is so difficult to lose weight from the places you want to lose it. The body that is forming and storing fat can’t get rid of the fat already stored as easily as it should. The disturbance in your metabolism therefore works on you in three ways, all very damaging.

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