skip to Main Content
Too Much Food Causes Insulin Resistance

Overeating is Bad for Mitochondria: Calories Count, PUFA Calories Count More

There’s a lot of important discussion around macronutrients in the nutrition world regarding what percentage of our daily calories should ideally come from protein versus carb versus fat. In all this discussion, what’s often overlooked is the fact that simply overeating puts a stress on the system. And what’s never discussed is the fact that pro-inflammatory PUFA fat from seed oils puts more of a stress on the system than clean burning, traditional fats.

[For description of PUFA, seed oils, and traditional fats click here]

I think we should include a fourth macronutrient: time between meals.

The longer you can go without a meal or a snack or a beverage other than water, the healthier your mitochondria will be.

Of course, I think its pretty clear that overeating carbs is particularly bad because it causes the insulin spike that blocks fat burn. And overeating vegetable oils is particularly bad because they promote oxidative stress that directly disrupts mitochondrial function. (More both the carb-fat burn blockage and how vegetable oils cause mitochondrial damage here.)


Fatburn Fix Saves Life of Type 2 Diabetic

I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. Prior to reading the book, it was almost impossible for me to lose weight as a diabetic. 

Leontyne Tompkins

I feel free

For the last month, I have really been reading all labels on everything. I have completely remove those 8 oils you talk about. I must tell you, I feel great! I have more energy and I am now 197 lbs (have always been around 205 to 210lbs). I eat potatoes with real butter, grass fed steak, pasta with the right toppings. I eat everything! I seem to crave less sugar. I love it! 

Robert Kirkendall

I feel so much better

I had terrible aches and pains everywhere in my body, my hands, shoulders and knees. I feel so much better and the way I feel is motivating me every day! Thank you

Mike Deb Wootan Burcin

Better than ever

I am an anesthesiologist in Orlando and a huge fan of both of your books! I have been incorporating your principles for the last 10 months and feel that my health is better than ever.

Marnie Robinson, MD

My allergies disappeared

The biggest difference for me (and a surprising one) is that my allergies have almost completely disappeared! This is a big deal for me, because I’ve had allergies most of my life and they have often affected what I do which is a teaching music in [a public school district].  In general, I feel much better and have more consistent energy throughout the day.

Erica Turrell

Heart Palpitations have Stopped

I’ve lost 20+ pounds (also fasting 16-24 hours daily) and haven’t had palpitations except for one occasion — I had a mini bag of Fritos for the first time in July. And, I feel better now on a daily basis than I ever did all through college.

Mike Wright
Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix reader
Mitzi Wilkinson Champion

I’ve lost over 50 pounds

I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’m 56 years old. Cutting processed food and unhealthy fats from my diet was one of the first things I did on my health recovery journey...I went cold turkey off the bad oils. Emptied my pantry into the trash and just started eating real food

Mitzi Wilkinson Champion

Knowledge I didn’t know I needed

Your Fatburn Fix book is amazing, my friend. Thank you! I’m an Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I know my stuff. This is the extra layer of knowledge I didn’t know I needed. Well done!

Jennifer Dillman
Fatburn Fix reader

Lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork is great

I have lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork (after 3 months of eating your way) was even better! I was metabolically healthy (per your book) before I read your book, but barely. Lowering my weight, sealed the deal! I have been talking about you and your book to anyone who will listen...Thank you for all you’ve done and what you continue to do! You are changing lives for the better!

Missy Cramer
FatBurn Fix reader

Lost 20 lbs I could never shed

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  I work out in the am and believe I am burning fat for energy not from food!

Lauren Smith

I feel great

My waist is four inches smaller. I feel great and many of the minor aches and pains that I had (knees and lower back) are gone. Also, my muscle tone is amazing, even though I have not increased my workout routine.

Richard Janelle
Completed Dr Cate's online course
Kent Matthes

The go-to for strength and conditioning coaches

Whenever I advise my clients about eating to perform I go straight to what I have learned from Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition has become the go-to for strength and conditioning coaches across the country.

Kent Matthes
Major League Baseball Agent with WME Sports
Ken D Berry

Dismantles the lie

Dr. Cate dismantles the lie that seed oils are healthy, which may the biggest lie about nutrition and health because it’s so insidious.  

Ken D Berry, MD
Author of Lies My Doctor Told Me
Dr. Drew Pinsky

She knows the chemistry

Dr. Cate alerts us to the harms of seed oils and she’s convincing because she knows the chemistry better than anyone.

Dr. Drew Pinskey, MD
Globally recognized internal medicine and addiction medicine specialist, media personality, LoveLine Host, and New York Times bestselling author
Kelly Starrett

No one is better at communicating nutritional truth

Dr. Cate has had the single greatest impact on how we talk to people about fueling for both performance or durability. While we all are a little unique, the foundational principles of human nutrition are immutable. If you are looking to create a more durable, resilient body, no one is better at communicating nutritional truth than Dr. Cate.

Dr. Kelly Starrett
Physiotherapist coach and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
Brian Lenkzes

Highly recommend The Fatburn Fix

Dr. Shanahan has had a significant impact on my practice of medicine. I am known as a Low Carb Doctor, but I never really appreciated the negative effects of processed seed oils on the health of my patients. I highly recommend The Fatburn Fix to my patients and have a loaner copy in my waiting room. It is amazing how quickly blood sugars and overall health improves with cutting seed oils. It is not just about the carbs!

Dr. Brian Lenkzes, MD
CEO of LowCarbMD San Diego, co-host of Low Carb MD Podcast and host of Life's Best Medicine Podcast
Chris Kaman

Respected in the sports world

Dr. Cate reordered my diet when I was with the L.A. Lakers, and the benefits, for me personally, were felt immediately and have served me to this day. I’ve come to take real food so seriously I started a small family farm. I know of no M.D./nutritionist more respected in the sports world than Dr. Cate Shanahan.

Chris Kaman
NBA Player
Mark Sisson

Brought seed oil issue front and center

Cate brought the seed oil issue front and center. Healthy fats matter. So much so that I created an entire product line to swap out bad fats with good.

Mark Sisson
Founding Father of the Primal/Paleo Movement
Dallas Hartwig

Optimal health starts with food

If you want to understand how optimal health starts with food, start with Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition leaves you with an appreciation of the profound relationship between our genes and the planet, inspiring us to be good shepherds of both.

Dallas Hartwig
Attribution author of The Whole 30
Dwight Howard

Helped me with endurance

Deep Nutrition really helped me with endurance. I started to feel better as a player. I was able to run more, I was able to be more active …and I just decided to keep going with it to this day.

Dwight Howard
NBA Player
Paul Grewal

Silver bullet for me

Dr Cate’s teachings helped me lose 60 pounds like it was nothing. It was like a silver bullet for me.

Paul Grewal, MD 
Dr Grewal Internal Medicine, MD, author of Genius Foods
Joesph Mercola

Radically improve your health…

Dr. Shanahan has provided a solid reference that deserves a place in the library of anyone who is seriously interested in nutrition. Her perspective on the vital role that healthy fat has in our diet is novel and, if implemented, can radically improve your health.

Dr. Joseph Mercola
Author of Fat for Fuel and Founder of Mercola.com
Dave Aspery

Pull up a chair…

I have based my work on the idea that getting the right kinds of healthy fats into your body and avoiding the worst fats is essential to optimal health. I've interviewed dozens of the world's top experts about this, and I know of no one who speaks more eloquently on this topic than Dr Cate. If she’s talking fats, pull up a chair. Take notes.

Dave Asprey
Author of the Bulletproof Diet

The key to unlocking my fatburn

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  

Lauren Smith

Saved my life

I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. 

Leontyne Tompkins

Tears of joy

 I'm crying tears of joy and appreciation for all you've done for me and my health! Without Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix, I would literally still be in the vicious cycle I'd been fighting all my life! In a nutshell - I am no longer a compulsive overeating addict suffering under the crushing 'thumb' of all food and alcohol.     

Penni Wicks

But the calorie-counting folks do have a valid point: Calories matter. The reasons they propose are horribly oversimplified and their calorie balance equation doesn’t explain the illnesses that develop from gaining fat.

This 15 minute youtube lecture below provides a fundamental insight to what overeating does to our metabolism. In order to understand the true origin of insulin resistance and other diseases of overconsumption we must look inside mitochondria. Mitochondria are the battery packs powering most of life on Earth including our brain and muscle cells. It turns out most of us have been overstuffing these little guys with too much energy, and now we know that doing so can harm them.

Dr. P. Darrel Neufer explains how a mitochondria works like a battery. We literally charge mitochondria with electrons when we eat, and drain those electrons with activity that moves protons through the pump. The problems arise when we over charge our batteries. Unlike real batteries, which simply ignore the charge and the electrical balance inside our house is unaffected, our mitochondria must disrupt our body’s hormonal balance in order to protect themselves.

His advice “Don’t eat too many electrons and keep your protons flowing.” And he shows that if you push too many electrons into the system, you blow out the battery.

When a cell is sitting in a state of battery overcharge, it doesn’t want to blow itself out by accepting more energy, be it sugar or fat. So what does it do? It simply ignores the insulin signal that’s trying to drive more sugar (and to a lesser degree, fat) into the cell. So this is one reason that no matter if you are on a low carb or high carb diet you can get insulin resistance simply by over eating relative to your activity level. So calories do count–but of course there’s more to it than that.

This idea of needing to avoid the state of battery overcharge helps to explain why fasting, even short term (like skipping a lunch) has a powerful ability to reverse insulin resistance and diabetes.

I’d like to propose the idea that in addition to describing a diet by the three major macros, we include the time between meals as a fourth. I’m not sure how we’d quantify it though, so if anyone has any brilliant ideas about how to do that please share them in a comment!

The Fourth Macronutrient?
The Fourth Macronutrient?

Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Please discuss reasons we should not intermittent fast. Like adrenal disfunction, imbalanced thread or other hormones?
    Thank you! I love following your work.

    1. There’s no reason not to IF. However there are ways you can make it harder or easier. You make it harder by trying to IF during times you are hungry, and by having a high carb/PUFA breakfast. Not to shameless promote DN but I wrote the book to serve as a resource so here goes: In CH 10 of DN I describe how to make healthy low carb and health IFing easier.

  2. Of course, you are right. Only thing is you have put it in a way that immediately puts the significance about fasting right where it ought to be; In the front.

    After all, we have reinvented the wheel many times.The science of benefits of Interval fasting and Autophagy is for all of to us to study and understand.

    Your pie chart spurs me on to brush my knowledge in this field. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top
Search