When we are obese there is a constant exchange of fat for muscle. However, this is greatly accelerated when we are dieting. One reason is that we tend to have a markedly reduced caloric intake compared to when we are not dieting. Most overweight people, especially the obese, have chronic high levels of insulin that will begin to drop as soon as they start dieting. This is a two-edged sword, as low insulin levels decrease inflammation, which allows us to utilize body fat for energy. However, insulin is required to bring protein into the cells to maintain muscle mass. The overweight or obese person has cells that are insensitive to insulin due to their chronic high levels. That is, their body is so used to the overly high levels, it cannot recognize these new lower levels, thus it is unable to trigger the amino acid uptake needed to maintain muscle mass (insulin is needed to take up both sugar and amino acids into the muscle).
This is why it is critical to take a powerful anti-inflammatory approach to dieting. Remember, it is the inflammatory chemicals, such as NfkB, that block the effects of insulin—whether it is to metabolize blood sugar or to nourish muscles with amino acids. Over exercising can further put us into a catabolic state (in which complex molecules are broken down into simpler ones) because of the higher requirement of nutrients needed for active muscles.
We have long known that having extra weight also increased our risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have been searching for the common factor between low-grade inflammation, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. They know that people with extra body fat have higher levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein and some of the interleukins. Now they began to turn their attention to the role of transcription factors in obesity. They found that the transcription factor NfkB is activated in obese individuals.
However, it gets even worse. Elevated NfkB is also directly responsible for a condition known as “insulin resistance.” When we are insulin resistant, our insulin mechanism does not work well—we do not use insulin properly. This results in elevated levels of both insulin and blood sugar, raising the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Is your diet contributing to muscle loss?