Why are we fat?

Simon Gault, New Zealand Chef

Simon Gault, New Zealand Chef

That was the title of an excellent, three-part documentary recently on Prime TV. For those of you who didn’t see it, Simon Gault (NZ chef) was the subject. Simon has been a type 2 diabetic for a few years now and in the series he had extensive testing to determine his body composition, his fitness and general health (if you want to watch the series it is available on Prime TV on demand and I think it is well worth watching.)

Simon’s body was over 42% fat and his pancreas was also infiltrated with fat. Simon was shocked to find out that his liver was 33.7% fat, that’s right, over a third of his liver was clogged up with fat deposits and unfortunately that is not uncommon. You don’t even have to be very overweight to have a fatty liver, even people who appear to be relatively slim on the outside can have a fatty liver. 

For further reading on visceral fat and looking after your liver, check these brief articles out:

The type of diabetes that Simon has is most often a result of lifestyle choices and in many cases it can be reversed with correct nutrition and lifestyle changes. Even if someone in your family has type 2 diabetes, by no means does it have to be your destiny as well.

For further information check out this article on Type 2 diabetes

Studies show that having a high level of blood glucose can be a factor in developing dementia and cancer, as well as having a role in many inflammatory conditions. The sad fact is that way too many Kiwis don’t look after themselves. A poor quality diet, obesity, stress and lack of regular exercise all increase your risk of becoming a Type 2 diabetic, along with the resultant health issues.

Are you complacent enough to let it happen to you?


The conclusions from the Why Are We Fat documentary are as follows:

We are eating too many processed foods.
These foods have little nutritional value, but they are quick and easy to grab. A lot of the available food now is ultra-processed and while food scientists can make them taste similar to the real thing, they actually bear no nutritional resemblance. Get back to basics, eat simple, real food.  Know what you should be eating, shop for it and plan ahead. Planning and organisation are critical to healthy eating and weight loss success.

Cut out refined carbohydrates. 
All carbohydrates break down to glucose, but the processed ones like cereal, white breads, pasta, rice, and lollies, etc are rapidly digested and will spike glucose levels. The type of carbohydrates to focus on are fibrous veggies, a moderate amount of whole fruit (not juice), and wholegrain products.

Eat a moderate amount of protein with each meal.
Protein helps keep you full, but it is also involved with all growth, maintenance, repair, hormone and immune functions. Protein also helps rev up your metabolic rate and when weight loss is your goal, protein is your friend. It also helps you hang onto muscle.

Yes, while it is nice to wind down with a glass of wine at the end of the day, alcohol contains empty calories and contributes to a fatty liver. It is also burnt by the body ahead of stored fat, so if your goal is fat loss you need to be mindful of your intake. Keep it to one or two nights a week and consider stopping it all together if you have a fatty liver.

To help reduce Simon’s visceral fat his exercise plan focused on weight training and high intensity cardio. These two help lower blood glucose levels and reduce visceral fat. You don’t have to go to a gym, there are many other options including YouTube body weight videos, fitness bands and hiring cardio machines for home use if you wish. Even simply going for a 30 minute brisk walk most days is helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes.

More and more information is coming out stressing the importance of getting enough quality sleep. Lack of sleep is a real stress on the body and it can increase hunger hormones. It can also increase insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes. With busy lives we are tending to make less time for sleep.

Watching TV, looking at smart phones, iPads etc in bed is increasingly common and these can all lead to sleep disturbances. Eating close to bed time is not a good idea either, your body should be resting, not digesting, when you go to bed.

Think about how you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by reading the conclusions above and if you need any help, please get in touch.



Posted on October 2, 2017 .