I'm having great success with the paleo diet and have been losing between 1 and 2 lbs a week. I'm 68 years old and I imagine my fat is old too. Is my body fat toxic as it is released out of the fat cells? I'm 5'8" and have gone from 150 lbs to 143 in one month of yummy cream and eggs etc.
I'd say no, your fat is not toxic. It may be possible that some toxins are released when you lose weight but I have not seen any good evidence of it happening. The fat in your fat cells does not just sit there forever. Some of it continuously gets broken down and released into your blood for use. If it is not used it gets stored back in the fat cells again.
This bit of research looked at how fast the turnover of fat (triglyceride) in fat cells (adipose tissue) took place. The scientists worked out that the average half-life of the fat in the fat cells was 200-270 days.
This means that: about half of the body fat is replaced every 6 to 9 months.
They also worked out that about half of the fat cells in the body are replaced every 7 to 14 months.
The turnover of fat is faster in some areas such as in the viceral fat in your abdomen.
Most of the fat and fat cells in your body will have only been there for a few years at most. In fact this is true for most of your body at any age as described in this New York Times article - Your Body Is Younger Than You Think.
I often hear various rationals for why some people get 'lowcarb flu.' One is that toxins are being released from fat. Perhaps this idea can help people stick it out for a few weeks until the 'flu' passes. But I have yet to see any evidence of what exactly causes the flu like symptoms. Other rationals besides toxic fat release include gut bacteria die off, brain chemistry changes, adaptation to ketosis, etc. Personally, I lean towards overall body adaptation as the likely reason it can take a while to get with the program, but I am ready to change my opinion should some good research come around to turn my head.
Anyway, if you feel fine, than I would not worry about it, that is for sure. Even if that can happen, if you don't feel sick, then you apparently don't have it, whatever it is! ;-P -Eva
I'm still trying to understand this article (http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/12), but one of the things it states seems to support the idea of higher toxicity in the bodies of those losing weight: "During body weight loss, a decrease in fat mass results in lipid mobilization, and organochlorine concentrations increase both in plasma and remaining adipose tissue."
I'd say that this supports the slow-and-steady way of losing weight. If you're losing half a pound a week, maybe the amount of extra toxins released is not so great that your body's mechanisms for clearing them out would become overwhelmed. Anyone aware of any more studies done in this area?
There is evidence that abnormal fat metabolism, caused by abnormal fat gain, may be a possible precondition for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. One theory that explains the mechanism by which this can happen is the theory of lipotoxicity:
The reason is not that the body fat per se is toxic; it is not. But excessive fat gain may trigger hormonal imbalances that lead to damage to non-fat tissues. These include tissues in the liver and pancreas.
Congratulations on your progress!
Yes, it's possible that old toxins are stored in your fat cells, but even though some people can feel a bit ill as these toxins are released into the bloodstream, it's certainly better to shed that fat than hold onto it for fear of experiencing a bit of glugginess (that's the technical term ;P )
In the 6 Week Cure, the Drs. Eades stress the importance of drinking lots of water to help speed along the detox process, and also advocate giving blood to help remove lingering nasties. I wouldn't go as far as blood-letting, but the fact that the Eades' point it out certainly suggests the validity of the body fat toxin theory.
Whenever I'm feeling down about the fact that I've regained all my fat (without every breaking away from paleo or fasting or portion restriction - yay!), I can at least take solace in the fact that my fat stores are very natural - no toxins like the old days! So as I try to burn it off again, I know that the fat is a pure and healthy form of energy for me to use. No need to apply the leeches ;)