Saturated Fat & Insulin Resistance


In this episode I speak with Dr Jessica Hughes Neurosciences lecturer and researcher from the school of medical sciences at Wollongong University. Jess explains how saturated fat may cause insulin resistance. Saturated fat increases ceramide production, which in turn affects our cells. She also explains that exercise decreases ceramide production and may counteract the intake of Saturated fat.   Want more info on ceramide research click here. 

I also give you some ideas on how to make your Valentines day a healthy one. I meet with Jase again from to play fact or crap  with a fitness related theme. If you like the show, don’t forget to connect with us and leave me a comment!

Check out this episode!


Valentines Ideas that don’t include wine or chocolate

-Planned romantic dinner at home: light candles, set table, make dinner (choose recipes partner likes).

-Date night at movies- romantic walk after. Air popped popcorn without butter (take own).

-Rock-climbing: work together and build trust + get fit

-Take a dance lesson: salsa night!

-Send your partner’s favourite lunch to work or a fruit basket with a love letter/poem.

-Take a romantic walk on the beach or a around local park; it creates memorable experiences together. Nice way to take them to a memorable location and propose!

-Surprise loved one with a picnic: strawberries, grapes and wholegrain crackers with cheese. Love songs on iPod or serenade.

Insulin resistance & Saturated fat

Dr Jessica Hughes

  • Works at University of Wollongong- lecturer in neuroscience + researcher (area in lipid biochemistry and physiology).
  • Research: looking into role of different fat signalling molecules in insulin resistance and diabetes. How this is related to use to anti-psychotic drugs as well as diet-induced insulin resistance.
  • Two of the most highly prescribed drugs= highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity. Meds are needed to treat conditions but have bad side effects!
  • Saturated fat: a lot of evidence from 1990- implicates circulating saturated fatty acids and their role in inducing insulin resistance. Happens quickly through a fat-signalling molecule- acetamide. Cause different pathways/block pathways. Research shown that circulating free fatty acids in blood stream from diet or injection in rate- saturated fats cause an up regulating in acetamide and that directly blocks insulin signalling pathway: blocks insulin receptor and blocks one of the transporters that allows glucose into tissues. Saturated fat leads to increased acetamide which blocks pathway in 2 different areas- insulin sensitivity decreases. Lipid signalling molecules have been implicated in obesity. Play role in insulin resistance and obesity (low level inflammatory state)- saturated fat cause increase in inflammatory mediators- increase regulation of acetamide.
  • Specific to saturated fat not all fat (such as monounsaturated).
  • Different types of saturated fat: looked at medium or short chain fatty acid- not as bad but still want to keep in lower quantities if eating them. However it’s still fat and contains a lot of energy. Not as bad as long-chain saturated fatty acids- palmitic acid= 16 carbons. Made in body and found in many foods- butter. Already producing it so we don’t need to eat a lot of it.
  • Cholesterol: shown that high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)- different mechanism.
  • Think of types of fat you’re using- olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds ‘healthier’ fats,
  • No idea what long term implications of fad diets are- no studies have looked at them- no ethics committee would approve putting people on high fat diet.
  • Studies on rats: a lot of research on saturated fat has been done to a large extent in humans and imitates what we see in animal studies. Even in animal study- still strong and robust due to previous research we have. All adds to body of knowledge. Animal studies still provide great information and great ideas of what to target.
  • A lot of studies conducted in people already overweight and at risk of insulin resistance.
  • Feeding centres in brain control appetite- eat lots of saturated fat can affect brain + feeding pathways as well as the body.
  • Have to be careful when things go viral e.g. using butter- evidence doesn’t support it.


Exercise & recovery Fact or Crap?

With Jason Jarred

  1. Is jogging bad on the knees

-Crap: Not necessarily- some people have different biomechanics of running- how they strike the ground. Some people have pre-existing knee injuries but if you don’t have any issues with your knees you should be fine! Jogging also increases bone mineral density which helps decrease risk of osteoporosis.


  1. Machine-based exercises are safer than other forms of resistance training

-Crap: Don’t take much skill or coordination but it’s not necessarily the case- if you do dumbbells (free weights) or other forms with assistance there’s no reason why it can’t be safer. Leg-extension machine can be high-risk for knees- people don’t set it up properly- need to adjust machines properly.


  1. Best form of training for muscle mass is circuit training.

-Crap: Most of research regarding building muscle- its about overload. Lifting heavier weights- more about volume than time and with lower reps. Get sore, break down muscle and build it back stronger. Important to have a break. Perform less exercises but with a proper break- can lift more weight as you’ve had time to recover.


  1. No pain no gain?

-Crap: Don’t need to push yourself to point of pain to get fitness or strength gains- shouldn’t be painful! Going slow and consistent so you can last. Fine to be uncomfortable during exercise but pain is not good. Choose exercises you somewhat enjoy and feel you can achieve.


  1. Can heart rate be a good indicator of exercise intensity?

-Fact: One of the most accurate ways to monitor exercise intensity- measuring the heart itself. Heart rate medications can dampen the heart rate response so look for different indications.


  1. If you’re sweating you’re not working hard enough

-Crap: Some people sweat more than others. Different people at different ages have different exercise intensities e.g. 70 year old- walking is hard enough but they don’t sweat because that exercise doesn’t make them sweat! It doesn’t mean they’re not working hard. Sweat: only losing water and they become dehydrated.


  1. If you have an injury you’ll be fine so long as you’re not training so hard that you’re sweating

-Crap: Depends on the injury: not suppose to work out on them, do need to rest or see a physio!


  1. Only weight training has been shown to improve risk of chronic disease and all-cause mortality.

-Crap: Need to look at majority of what research says not a single piece of research/a single study. Media highlights interesting points- misrepresents the science.


  1. Sitting all day is worse for your health than smoking.

-Fact: Sitting is so bad for your health! For every hour spent sitting you lose 22 minutes off your life. Every cigarette takes 11 minutes off your life. Even 30minutes exercise/day is not going to undo 8 hours worth of sitting. Need more incidental activity: get up and walk every hour at the office, walk to colleague instead of calling, take the stairs. Increased cardiovascular risk factors for things like heart disease. Still need to move more and sit less even if meeting/exceeding exercise requirements.


  1. If you stop weight training- muscle turns to fat when you stop training.

-Crap: Two different cells (fat and muscle cells)- they don’t convert one to the other. Muscles will decrease in size, lose muscle mass and regain fat mass if not doing any other exercise or eating too much.

Muscle cells don’t replicate beyond developmental years- get bigger or smaller. Fat cells can replicate- obesity- body makes more fat cells. Don’t lost fat cells they just shrink in size (when losing weight). We’re born with fat cells, gain weight, get more fact cells- cant get rid of them once you’ve got them- can only make smaller.



Comments are closed.