Do carbs make us fat?

It is often stated that carbs are the enemy of fat loss, but is that true? Do we have to cut carbs to get trimmed and toned? Let’s look at what science says about carbs and fat loss.

What Carbs Do in the Body

When we eat a meal, the carbs in that meal get broken down into glucose (sugar that's used by our cells). The pancreas detects the increased glucose levels in the bloodstream and releases insulin. Insulin then ushers the glucose into our liver, muscle, and fat cells. When glucose levels return to baseline levels so does insulin.

Insulin also has other functions. One of those functions is to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (building new muscle). That sounds pretty great doesn't it? Well, insulin also inhibits lipolysis (fat breakdown) and stimulates lipogenesis (fat creation). That one doesn't sound so fun. In fact, that is why carbs are viewed so negatively. The thinking goes:
High Carb Diet > High Insulin Levels > Store More Fat AND Burn Less Fat > Become Obese

Low Carb Diet > Low Insulin Levels > Store Less Fat AND Burn More Fat > Six Pack Abs
I'll admit, it's a pretty convincing argument. Why do you think ketogenic diets are so popular? I actually believed this was true for a long time but thankfully, it isn't. You can have your carbs and eat them too.

How Fat Loss ACTUALLY Works

While it is true that insulin causes fat storage and blocks fat burning, that is only one piece of the puzzle. Every time we eat a meal, our bodies use some of the food for energy and store the rest as body fat to be used later. If you'll remember from before, as soon as that meal is finished digesting, insulin levels drop.  When this happens, we switch over to using body fat for fuel until we eat again.

So as you can see, storing fat is only half of the equation (quite literally, in fact). The amount of fat you store minus the fat you burn, over time will determine whether you become lean, overweight, or stay the same. The graph below shows an example of what this might look like for an individual.

Graph by James Krieger at [1]
After all this, you may be thinking, "BUT if I don't eat carbs, my insulin levels will never go up, and I won't store fat to start with. I'll always be in fat burning mode!" Nice try, but you can't outsmart your body that easily.

The way insulin stops fat breakdown is by suppressing the activity of an enzyme named hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). As it turns out, dietary fat can do the same thing even when insulin levels are low.

Another problem is that protein can stimulate insulin just as powerfully as carbs and sometimes even more so. There was a study that looked at the insulin response of a low protein/high carb meal in comparison with the insulin response of a high protein/low carb meal. [2]

As you can see from the charts below, the high protein meal actually had a greater insulin response than the high carb meal in this case even though the protein caused a much smaller blood sugar response. (If you'll recall, in the beginning, I told you a rise in blood sugar signals your pancreas to release insulin, but in this case, insulin levels went way up even without a large increase in blood sugar.)

Insulin response in low protein/high carb meal vs high protein/low carb meal [2]

Blood glucose response in low protein/high carb meal vs high protein/low carb meal [2]

Are Carbs Guilty?

What we've learned is both carbs and protein raise insulin levels, which signals the body to stop burning fat and start storing what we are eating. We also learned that dietary fat can stop fat burning without even needing insulin. This means, in order to get leaner, we would need to decrease our intake of both carbs and fat. (We don't want to decrease protein intake though. You can learn more about that here.)

All foods are made up of carbs, protein, and/or fat. Carbs, protein, and fat all contain Calories. If you take that information and put it all together, the only way to reduce body fat is to reduce your Caloric intake. As it turns out, carbs are innocent.

[2] Boelsma, E., Brink, E.J., Stafleu, A., Hendriks, H.F. (2010) Measures of postprandial wellness after single intake of two protein-carbohydrate meals., Appetite, 54(3):456-64. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2009

Is weight lifting healthy?

Some suggest that lifting weights is unhealthy, but is there any truth to that? "Healthy" is a broad term so let's look at the pros and cons of weight lifting then you can decide for yourself if it's right for you.


1) Increased Strength and Muscle Mass

Lifting weights breaks down our muscles on a microscopic level. The body then repairs the damage using protein we consume through our diet. When the muscles are repaired, they are slightly larger and stronger. If you lift weights consistently, you will eventually develop noticeable increases in both muscle strength and muscle size.

2) Decreased Body Fat
Lifting weights will help you to achieve that lean look you've always wanted. Lifting weights burns Calories which contributes to fat loss. As mentioned above, weight lifting also builds muscle. Skeletal muscle is responsible for more than 25% of the body's Calorie use. Building larger muscles will lead to more Calories being burned around the clock. This, in turn, leads to burning more body fat.
NOTE: You should also decrease your Calorie intake if fat loss is your goal.

3) Improved Coordination
Many people fail to realize how much coordination is being trained when lifting weights so let's look at an example, the barbell squat. During the squat, the Central Nervous System (CNS) must tell the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings all to contract with enough force to push your body and the weight on your shoulders upward.
At the same time, the CNS must tell your calves, core, and back muscles to contract with just enough force to keep you from falling forward or backward. If you perform free weight exercises such as the barbell squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press, etc. consistently, you will drastically improve your coordination over time.

4) Reduced Stress
During the breakdown of muscle, endorphins are released which elevates mood. Lifting weights also releases dopamine, which is the primary driver of the reward system. This is why we feel accomplished when we work out. These in conjunction with increased serotonin and testosterone production, which also happen as a result of lifting weights, is why going to the gym can make the stress from your bad day just melt away.

5) Can Prevent and Even Treat Some Medical Conditions
Most things that sound too good to be true usually are, but not this time. Here are just a few of the conditions that lifting weights can help prevent or treat in no particular order:
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sarcopenia
  • Depression
  • Low-Back Pain
  • Various Heart Conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Dementia

1) Potential for injury

As with all physical activity, even if done correctly, there is a small chance that you may get injured; however, the odds of injury can be dramatically decreased if using proper form and using the appropriate amount of weight for your skill level.

2) Spikes in Blood Pressure
Lifting weights involves short bursts of physical activity. This can temporarily drive up blood pressure, especially if you are not sufficiently warmed up, which can be dangerous if you already have very high blood pressure or a preexisting heart condition. If you fall into this category, see your doctor before beginning a weightlifting program.

If you're in search of a great doctor that cares about his patients, click here!
If you'd like to begin a weight lifting program, click here for online training or click here for face-to-face training!
Thank you so much for reading! If you found this information helpful, share it with a friend. I would appreciate it and I know they will too. If you want to hear more from me, head over to God bless you AND your family and I'll see you next time.

Ryan Treadaway is a Certified Personal Trainer and the founder of Treadaway Training, LLC. He trains clients both online and one-on-one at DeKalb MD's Fort Payne location. You can find more of his work on his blog or his YouTube Channel.

Five SIMPLE Tips to Improve Your Health TODAY!

1) Drink more water.

Let's start off simple. You've been told your entire life to drink more water, but why? Water has numerous health benefits such as increasing energy, preventing kidney stones, maintaining regularity, improving skin complexion, preventing cramps, preventing headaches, and many more.
One of it's biggest benefits is its effect on weight loss. The average 20-ounce soft drink contains 250 Calories. If you cut out two 20 ounce soft drinks per day, that's enough to produce one pound of fat loss per week! As if this weren't great enough, staying well hydrated can also help you burn up to 100 extra Calories per day. [1]
The average adult should aim to drink 2.2 liters of water per day, which is roughly 4.5 standard 16-ounce water bottles.

2) Eat more protein.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein is incredibly important and many experts believe the recommended daily intake is too low. High protein intake can boost your metabolism, while at the same time, helping you get full faster. This means you'll be eating fewer Calories, burning more Calories, and you'll even be less hungry. [2] [3] Adequate protein intake has also been shown to lower both blood sugar and blood pressure. [4] [5]
The amount of protein you need will depend on your goals and weightlifting experience (which we will talk about in tip #5).
  • If your goal is fat loss and you're a beginner weightlifter, aim for 0.8 - 1.2g of protein per pound of body weight. [6]
  • If your goal is fat loss and you're an experienced weightlifter, aim for 1.1 - 1.3g of protein per pound of body weight. (Experienced weightlifters have increased muscle mass and will require more protein to maintain that muscle mass while on a diet.) [7]
  • If your goal is weight maintenance or muscle gain, aim for 0.8 - 1g of protein per pound of body weight. (The reason you require less protein for gaining muscle is that when on a diet, your body will burn some protein for fuel, so you will require more.)

3) Get enough fiber.

There are hundreds of species of bacteria that live in your gut. Some are helpful and some are harmful. Many companies want to sell you probiotics to increase the number of beneficial bacteria but before reaching for your wallet, remember that you have perfectly good bacteria in your gut already. Why don't you just feed them instead? You can do this by adding more fiber to your diet. [8] A few examples of fiber-rich foods are green veggies, berries, and whole grains.
As an added benefit, fiber is incredibly filling and fibrous foods tend to also be low in Calories. This makes them ideal if you're trying to lose weight. Aim to get a minimum of 25g of fiber per day.

4) Move around more.

Cardiovascular exercise both increases the quality of life in the short term and prevents many diseases in the long term. Cardio is also a great way to burn extra Calories, which boosts fat loss. Start small and work your way up. Take a walk with a friend, walk the dog, or go on a hike. If you're walking solo, you can listen to a podcast or audiobook for added enjoyment.

5) Don't be afraid of the weights.

Lifting weights is one of the best things you can do for your health. Resistance training improves metabolic health and can prevent conditions such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis sarcopenia, low-back pain, and others. In fact, resistance training combined with weight loss can even reverse existing type 2 diabetes. [9] Resistance training can also completely reverse the lean body mass loss associated with aging.
Resistance Training is also crucial for fat loss. Resistance training increases muscle mass, which is a large contributor to metabolic rate. If you don't lift weights while dieting, you will lose muscle mass, which in turn will slow down your metabolism, eventually halting fat loss.

Thank you so much for reading! If you found this information helpful and think others will benefit from it as well, please give this article a share on social media. If you want a doctor who cares about your wellbeing and individual needs, click here. If you want to hear more from me, head over to
God bless you AND your family and I'll see you next time.
Ryan Treadaway is a Certified Personal Trainer and founder of Treadaway Training, LLC. He trains clients both online and one-on-one at DeKalb MD's Fort Payne location. You can find more of his work on his blog or his YouTube Channel.

Savings 101: Healthcare strategies for self-funded companies

Self-funded healthcare insurance is on the rise among smaller and mid-size businesses looking to manage employees’ healthcare.
Through self-funded healthcare,  employers, rather than pay a hefty health insurance premium to insurers for their employees, “self-fund’’ premiums and assume most of the financial risk of employee health expenses. Employers pay claims through a third party intermediary and can save significantly on premium payments.
In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare system, the percentage of workers in self-insured plans has been increasing.How do employers manage risk?
When it comes to maintaining healthy workforces, most employers face several challenges that could lead to significant costs if not adequately addressed. These challenges include managing chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension; prescription drug costs and hospitalization costs – all of which make up the bulk of a company’s healthcare spending.
According to the Integrated Benefits Institute, U.S. workforce illness costs $227 billion a year in lost productivity when employees are absent due to illness or when they are underperforming because of poor health.
How does an employer manage costs while also improving the health of their employees?
One strategy is to catch diseases early. By implementing a comprehensive biometric screening analysis of employees, potential problems can be identified early. Biometric screenings check employees for risk markers such as weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
With this aggressive outreach, companies can identify moderate-to-high risk employees and enroll them in a company-sponsored health and wellness program. As these employees improve their health, they fall into a lower-risk category, which helps lowers healthcare costs.
A large supermarket chain based in Texas, H-E-B, has seen this savings firsthand. “H-E-B’s internal analysis show that annual healthcare claims are about $1500 higher among nonparticipants in its workplace wellness program than among participants with a high risk health status,” according to a story in the Harvard Business Review.
Another strategy to lower healthcare costs is to focus on those employees already diagnosed with chronic diseases. Caring for employees with chronic disease drives a large portion of healthcare spending by way of doctor visits, hospital care and pharmacy costs.
Managing chronic diseases can lower healthcare costs, according to a RAND Corporation study. Examining a large employee wellness program offered by PepsiCo, researchers found that “efforts to help employees manage chronic illnesses saved $3.78 in healthcare costs for every $1 invested in the effort,’’ according to the RAND Corporation.
Working with a healthcare provider that understands the challenges employers face is critical. Healthcare2U provides a network of direct primary care clinics so employees have convenient access to the healthcare they need.
Accessibility and convenience are two big factors that keep employees from going to the doctor and participating in programs that will keep them healthy and productive. By keeping employee out-of-pocket costs low and providing easy access to healthcare, employees can better follow medical regimens. An engaged patient is a healthier patient.
Direct primary care physicians know the value of controlling prescription drug costs to the employee and employer and the importance of prescribing generic prescription drugs when appropriate.
Our team of doctors act as healthcare advocates for employees and employers in reducing the number of unnecessary tests and procedures as determined by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s “Choosing Wisely” campaign.
The Choosing Wisely effort has garnered the participation of more than 70 medical specialty societies who have published more than 400 recommendations of overused tests and treatments that clinicians and patients should discuss.
Having a board certified physician as an advocate can improve the health of employees while providing real savings in healthcare costs.
Healthcare is changing rapidly, don’t be left behind.

Healthcare Revolution

We started Dekalb MD, because we wanted better healthcare. For too long we have associated insurance for healthcare. In all reality insurance is nothing more than security in paying for an unaffordable unforeseeable event. In the current system we use it for everything no matter the cost. We have lost sight of the true cost of healthcare. At Dekalb MD we wanted a total transparent system, one that fixes cost and access. By moving primary care out of insurance, we can now provide affordable and full access healthcare. One that cost less than a cell phone bill a month, allows you to reach your doctor 24/7, via phone, email, txt, or video conference. We still want everyone to have insurance, however we want you to have high deductible, low premium catastrophic type insurance (like your auto and home ins).