Theory Wars: Why we get fat


(Exert taken from:

The ‘calorie’ is a unit of measurement of the energy contained within foods. Living bodies require a certain number of calories each day as fuel. Food calories are metabolized (burned up) by the body to create energy necessary to keep it going. Calories in excess of what the body needs as fuel get stored in the form of fat reserves which buffer the body against the possibility that calories might be hard to get a hold of in the future. Stored fat calories get burned and used up when no food is available and the body must look for alternative sources of fuel.

People gain weight and get fat when they consistently eat more calories than their bodies require to meet daily demands. That excess calories get stored as fat is an adaptive evolutionary response inherited from times not that long ago when food was less abundantly available and people had to work far harder to get a hold of what food was available. People who were able to store food in the form of fat when food was readily available were more likely to survive and reproduce through times when food was difficult to get than were their skinny peers. Because of this evolutionary advantage, our bodies have developed so that it is rewarding and natural for us to eat a lot of food when it is available. Despite being efficient storers of body fat, ancestral humans were not often obese as they had to work hard to eat and in the process burned up what calories they ate. However, the dramatic agricultural and technological changes of the past two thousand years have made food extremely easy to obtain and evolution has not been able to keep pace in so short a time span. At this juncture we are required to use our intellect to understand our bodies’ instincts and to develop a more twenty-first century appropriate relationship with food.





(Exert taken from: Why-Low-Carb-Diets -Work.Com)

The Lipophilia Hypothesis tells us that fat accumulation and mobilization involve complex biochemical interactions at the level of our fat tissue. Glucose, insulin, the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, and a molecule called alpha glycerol phosphate all play key roles. Calorie counting is irrelevant.

So can Lipophilia be validated. Do insulin and glucose, for instance, actually affect fat metabolism?

In fact — and this is the bizarre part — evidence abounds to show that they do. And it’s not even controversial evidence.

1. Insulin is lipogenic. In other words, it causes us to store fat. Here is a randomly selected article which confirms this idea: “Insulin action on adipocytes. Evidence that the antilipolytic and lipogenic effects of insulin are mediated by the same receptor.”[1]

That may sound like nonsense “science-speak.” So let’s translate. What that says is that the hormone insulin drives the creation of new fat and prevents fat from being broken down.

2. Here’s another article from the National Institute of Health archives — The Journal of Biochemistry from 1972.[2] “The immediate effects of insulin and fructose on the metabolism of the perfused liver. Changes in lipoprotein secretion, fatty acid oxidation and esterification, lipogenesis, and carbohydrate metabolism.”

3. Here’s another one, “Opposite effects of insulin and glucagon in acute hormonal control of hepatic lipogenesis.”[3]

These articles drive home the point that insulin is a lipogenic agent. It makes us fat. It controls fat metabolism.

But how can insulin make us fat if excess calories make us fat? This is a disconnect, a contradiction, a paradox.

Caloric Balance tells us explicitly that “Calories In” and “Calories Out” regulate fat tissue accumulation. So how can insulin play any role — let alone the role prescribed precisely by the competitor hypothesis, Lipophilia?

The answer is, it can’t. Caloric Balance tells us nothing about fat metabolism. It tells us nothing about the hormonal regulation of the adipose tissue. It says nothing about why and how and where we accumulate fat and why some of us accumulate fat while others don’t.

How can one conclude that this hypothesis is anything other than untenable, preposterous, and possibly even dangerous?

And yet this hypothesis serves as the foundation for all our dietary wisdom.





  1. It’s nice to finally read a non-scientific article, provided with scientific references. This is how all informative articles should be written! Here is your example, Runnersworld and MensHealth!

  2. I used to be a staunch believer in the “CICO” theory…then I suddenly gained 15lb with no change in my diet or exercise. After reading “Why We Get Fat” it makes sense. A calorie is a measurement of the energy produced by a food when it is burned in a TEST TUBE. I am not a test tube! I don’t set my calories on fire! If this is all that mattered, then we wouldn’t need the carb/protein/fat breakdown of calories in the nutrition labels, or in diet plans. Our bodies use the different types of nutrients differently, and it’s the body’s ability to produce/use/dispose of insulin that controls weight! Although this seems to be fairly recent news, diet plans for over 150 years have promoted low carb ways of eating.

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