Carbs, not dietary fat, cause obesity? (A discussion of fat loss/gain and not total body weight)

  • Carbs = Energy

    Unused energy gets stored

    The body stores unused energy as fat

    If the body gets the minimum amount of energy thru diet then

    The body uses stored body fat or muscle mas for energy

    If you are eating enough dietary fat then body will be more likely to use stored body fat

    I would love comments and opinions on this philosophy!

    (I am keeping it simple and not mentioning high vs low glycemic, good vs bad fats, and insulin but I am aware of them and want to start some discussion)

    “"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out..." - Robert J. Collier”

  • I'm inclined to agree with what you've written with one caveat.  "Excess carbs" are stored if not burned.  So the question becomes more individualized than the facts you've written allow.  I believe that elite athletes indeed burn more energy than the mid and high end range non-professional athletes.  Elite athletes can be found training 2 and 3 times per day (while being sponsored so they don't have to have a full time job) and need far more fuel than the average masses.  

    I also believe that EVERY single person out there has to find what works for them as to fat loss.  We must be our own test studies.  I also believe that to get to the point listed above, everyone has to start some where.  

    To simply throw out "don't eat carbs, eat fat instead" without giving a beginner to fitness a chance to become grounded in at least a decent understanding of diet and exercise is to set them up for failure.  

    I believe to get where you are has been a process and you are doing exactly what you need to do to continue to progress in your fitness journey, KUDO's to you my friend!

    Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right ~ Henry Ford

    Michelle Simpson ~2009 Body-for-LIFE Champion 46+ Catagory

  • and fat is energy as well. excess of either will get stored as body fat

  • Bryan L , what you have written isnt really right at all. True carbs provide the body with energy but so does Protein and so those Fat in fact the amount of energy protein and carbs provide the body is exactly the same at 4cals/g ,fat on the other hand provides 9cals/g. So basically food is energy and if you eat more then you burn off it wont matter whether its carbs,fat or protein you will gain weight

  • What you have said, fightingfit (6packmission), is accurate, but I don't believe you are taking it how Bryan meant it.  If talking about calories as units of energy exclusively then you are correct.  Bryan was talking about their purpose.  

    Your body does process different things differently. 

    Now I would agree with Charlie that an excess of anything is stored as fat. 

    That being said, 95% of Americans are deficient in essential fat and we overweight and obese at an alarming rate.  Excess insulin is the culprit.

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • I think Charlie is right.   Do the energy balance:

    In - Out - Consumption + Generation = Accumulation

    You have to account for the energy inputs from carbs, proteins, and fats.  The energy out term should be negligible, and the body doesn't generate it's own energy so set those terms to zero.  The accumulation term is either a positive number if In exceeds Consumed, or a negative number if more energy was expended than was input over the given time period.

    I've abbreviated the equation which should more fully read "Energy put in in time delta t minus energy out in time delta t...", etc.  Integrate over the time period to determine the net accumulation.



    Once I discovered the joys of weight training, all other passions were transcended.


  • One thing I am curious about, and I know Bryan was trying to keep this thread simple, do protein and fat spike insulin like carbs do? I agree with Jacium completely but if protein and fat do not effect insulin to the degree carbs do then there is another factor in the equasion.

    I think it is obvious that the "low-fat, high carb" diet we have been told for years is the way to eat is not working. I think the cause of obesity in our society isnt carbs per say but the amount of highly processed carbs we consume. (and lack of exercise of course)

    Any thoughts on this?

  • The thing is Jacium, that your theory is essentially that it's all about calories and if that were the case, simply counting calories would work.  We will assume for this moment that the 4 calories per gram of carb and 4 per gram of protein and 9 per gram of fat is accurate.  We will assume 3500 for a pound.  Those are now being called into question, but for the sake of simplicity, let's assume it's at least nearly accurate.  Doesn't assuming it's all about in versus out basically nullify BFL, where the argument is that it matters what you have, in what proportions, in what combinations and when?  I'm not in this case saying you are wrong (or right), just trying to better understand your position.

    Orrin: I would agree about all that processed crap.  It's killing us!

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • Orrin,

    Insulin spikes only when blood glucose levels get high.  The insulin helps drop the blood glucose level back to normal.  If the blood glucose levels get too low, then the pancreas counters by releasing glucagon, which will tend to raise the blood glucose back to normal levels.  The insuline and glucogan work in tandem to regulate the metabolism and blood sugar levels.  The catabolysis of the fats is via a different route (and also proteins) which avoid glucose, going through fatty acides and glycerol instead, and of course eventually gettting to what our bodies need, glycogen.

    Apparently all this was decided a few trillion years ago, and we haven't changed much since....


    which has a very detailed discussion on this.


    Once I discovered the joys of weight training, all other passions were transcended.


  • @ orrin - fat supresses insulin, carbs raise insulin.

  • Jessica,

    While it's true the "In - Out" part is extremely important in determining the state of our body, and is probably the dominating factor, what you say is also true - it matters what you have to eat and it also matters what you do with your body.  That's why, in my opinion, BFL is so powerful.  Remember that muscle burns calories at a higher rate than fat, and that proteins are key to proper muscle growth, and the proper combination of carbs and healthy fats are key to body and cns function.  The energy balance equation will definitely apply, but also matters whether a 2,000 calorie diet  is supplied by junk like candy bars vs. the proper balance of proteins, carbs, and fats.  How tightly this balance needs to be controlled for optimal results is, from I have seen in the literature, a matter of constant debate among the "experts".


    Once I discovered the joys of weight training, all other passions were transcended.


  • That made me chuckle.  :)  You have a wonderful communication style.  Thanks!

    I believe if the "experts" thought calories in versus calories out then we would more frequently see a debate for calorie counting being the best method.  I absolutely think calories matter so please don't confuse this.  I'm just saying you rarely see anyone argue it's the primary and only thing to consider.  

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • Read something on CNN a couple of days ago that followed certain foods, protein, carbs and fat.   If there were excesses, and the body needed to store some fat, any of the 3 could be converted to fat stores.  I think the bottom line of the story was 'portion control'....

  • dburg30 - I don't believe anyone questioned that excess would be stored as fat, but an article is not all that scientific.  It was a similar article that said that exercising didn't help in weight loss because it makes you hungrier so then you'll eat more.  The question is which will the body first use, which will first convert and how do you best get what you most need?  

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • I think the balance of carbs/fat is complicated and different for every person, but I think there is a lot of emphasis these days that "fat is not bad" due to a number of factors:

    - There was a decade of attempts to virtually elminate fat from everything we eat (e.g: "FAT FREE!" on a lot of diet foods) in order to combat weight problems

    - Obesity problems did not go away with no fat diets and attempts to eliminate fats just resulted in an uptake of calories from other sources. Fat is what triggers the satisfaction feeling to ward off hunger, so it is important to have an amount of healthy fats with every meal. Consuming too many carbs without fat will result in follow-up cravings that lead to a bad cycle.

    - Recent low/no carb diets actually DO result in dramatic weight loss through the metabolic state known as "ketosis" where the body runs out of glycogen stores after 2-3 days and starts to harvest stored fats for energy. Unfortunately ketosis is not compatible with any kind of exercise and you do lose some muscle when in this metabolic state. There is also the concern that you are losing important nutrients present in carb foods. This metabolic state is essentially the first stage of starvation. Most diets that use this state require food that is nutrient supplemented to account for the loss of those nutrients to avoid as many negative aspects as possible.

    Here is some details on "ketosis" which are the foundation of all low/no carb diets:

    As a result of the above diet fads/progression, a lot of nutritionists are trying to reverse these fad "NO THIS, NO THAT" diets and just get back to balanced meals where you have all the major food groups. I think BFL has a more traditional approach that is healthy in that no food groups are outlawed, you just try to focus on healthy versions of protein/carbs/fat. I think the ideal balance is 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat, but those should all be healthy instances of each group.

    The REALLY REALLY important point is that everyone's body is different and everyone's goals are different:

    - A hardcore athlete already with very low body fat, will need to increase carb intake to account for calories burned during strenuous exercise. (see Michael Phelps who doesnt need to put on muscle, but burns almost 12000 calories per day during his 2-3 hours of training per day).

    - A overweight person new to exercise will probably want to follow BFL closely and focus on protein and healthy carbs/fats while increasing exercise that was not previously present.

    - A long-time weight trainer may use bulk/cut cycles and other guideliness different from those with different goals.

    If any diet points a finger at a specific food group as "the enemy" its probalby not as healthy as a balanced diet + exercise, even if there are "results".