Obesity and diabetes – the effects of a high carb and high fat diet
In this fitness blog we are looking at the effects of a high carb and high fat diet on individuals with diabetes. A personal trainer may have clients referred to them who are struggling with obesity and have developed diabetes as a result.
As discussed in our previous blog on personal training – diabetes , there are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type 1 and Type 2. The most common form is Type 2, which can develop when an individual regularly eats foods that are high in sugar as well as having a high glycaemic index, causing increased insulin resistance in the muscle and liver cells.
Here, we are looking at the effects of this insulin resistance when a person continues to eat foods high in sugar and fat – especially if they are not regularly playing sport or training with a fitness instructor – and why the effects at cellular level of such a diet are a catalyst for obesity.
What does insulin do?
Insulin is released when the pancreas detects that there has been an intake of sugar and a rise in blood sugar levels. It allows glucose to move freely into cells, such as muscle cells, liver cells and adipose tissue cells, where we store fat.
What causes Type 2 diabetes?
Eating a diet that is high in sugar and fat will cause the body to constantly release insulin until eventually it builds up an insulin resistance, resulting in the onset of diabetes. This insulin resistance occurs more quickly in the muscle and liver cells than in the adipose tissue cells (fat cells).
How is glucose used and stored?
Glucose enters the body when we eat. Once the glucose is inside a cell, it has three potential purposes:
- to be used as energy
- to be stored as glycogen
- to be stored as a fatty acid and triglyceride
The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle
Personal trainers often take on new clients who have a sedentary lifestyle, which means they won’t be using much glucose for energy. If they have done little exercise all day, their glycogen levels will be quite full and the glucose will therefore be stored as fat.
So if a person is consuming large amounts of calories without exercising, they will have excess energy for the body’s needs and will put on weight.
As well as the high sugar intake that is being stored as fat, there is also additional fat intake from the diet. As any good personal trainer will know, at a hefty nine calories per gramme, fat intake is calorie dense.
When fat enters the body, it is broken down into its simplest form, the triglyceride. As triglycerides cannot enter fat cells, they are broken down into a glycerol and three fatty acids.
As the adipose tissue is still sensitive to insulin, the fatty acids will enter the adipose tissue cell, the glucose being pushed into the cell will convert back into glycerol and the three fatty acids will bind to the glycerol.
This creates a potent environment to start building and storing fat, because the energy consumed cannot be stored in the liver or muscle and the only place that is actively accepting fat is the adipose tissue.
The end result is an individual who will be struggling with their weight and potentially developing Type 2 diabetes. By working with a fitness instructor, following an exercise regime and improving their diet, they can lose weight and control or possibly reverse the effects of this kind of diabetes.
The benefits of low fat and low sugar diets
If a personal trainer is looking to recommend healthy eating guidelines for a client, they should consider promoting a diet that is low in sugar and fat. Low glycaemic index sugars and unsaturated fats are also linked to decreased insulin levels and lower adipose tissue fat.
CMS offers a Level 4 course on Nutritional Interventions for Obesity and Diabetes for any personal trainers or fitness instructors looking to work with these special populations.