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Compensating for Broken Fat Cells

When it comes to reading about the metabolic effects of eating a high fat diet (With low fat and low carbohydrate, in turn), I turn to Peter’s wonderful Hyperlipid. I was catching up on Reader the other day when I saw this post about broken mice. It’s a bit esoteric so be warned, but there’s an idea therein that I find particularly interesting — it pertains to mice with broken metabolisms.

The result is the following:

They develop neuronally mediated acute insulin hypersensitivity in their adipocytes, they then abnormally store fat at low levels of insulin, increase eating to compensate for this calorie loss in to adipocytes and eventually develop adipocyte distention induced insulin resistance, which shows as metabolic syndrome.

If I might try to distill the above, what I take from it is that these mice have a totally screwed up insulin response in their fat cells, causing them to snag up whatever dietary fat is present (taking it out of the pool of energy available to the body). If you’re eating a decent amount of carbs or protein (both increase circulating insulin), the net effect will be overeating as your fat cells soak up any accompanying dietary fat (and perhaps a bit of converted fat), effectively “starving” your other cells (you get hungry as a result). This works until it breaks (the fat cells get too big and can’t take on more nutrients). Once broken, the body can’t deal with excess energy and starts failing (metabolic syndrome).

This all reminds me of Gary Taubes’ analogy to the plugged bathtub filling up with water until the water pressure gets high enough in the tub to push through the clogged drain; and when/if this stops working, the water goes over the sides of the tub (metabolic syndrome). The tub is your fat. Something like that.

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