PSA: The Carbohydrate-Insulin Hypothesis is false – Here’s Why

So after seeing multiple posts this week with people claiming, postulating and questioning insulin, and by extension, the role of carbohydrates in the obesity epidemic and general weight gain, it's appropriate to discuss the insulin hypothesis.

I will preface this by saying that this is NOT an attack on low carb enthusiasts or people following a ketogenic diet, it's merely to stop the spread of fake news and misunderstood science.

In rough terms, the insulin hypothesis states that the main driver of obesity and weight gain is caused by the hormone insulin. Insulin is said to block the release of fat and is also known for the storage of fat in adipose tissue.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low. Protein also spikes insulin, but carbohydrates typically spikes insulin the most, as per the glycemic index.

Case and point: If we were to believe the Insulin Hypothesis, why are there multiple demographics and countries, which follow a high carbohydrate, glycemic diet, but show no sign of increased obesity? A classic example of this are vegans, this demographic has the lowest average BMI, but most vegans follow a high carbohydrate diet. Contradictory, no?

Further, multiple metabolic ward studies has show no difference between ketogenic diets and high glycemic diets on weight loss, when both protein and calories are controlled for. In other words, it's probably a higher intake of total calories that leads to weight gain and not carbohydrates or insulin.

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