“[We found] highly significant inverse correlations between food energy intake and adiposity [body fat].” – H. Keen, King’s College London
Eating more low-quality food causes us to gain body fat. But that does not mean eating more food produces the same result. Interestingly enough, eating more high-quality food has been clinically proven to cause body fat to be burned. The research on this topic comes from all over:
- J. Volek’s Study at the University of Connecticut: People in the eat-more-high-quality-food group ate 300 more calories per day and burned more body fat.
- F.F. Samaha’s Study at the University of Pennsylvania: People in the eat-more-high-quality-food group ate a total of 9,500 more calories and lost 200% more weight.
- P. Green’s Study from Obesity Research: People in the eat-more-high-quality-food group ate a total of 25,000 more calories without gaining any additional weight.
- S. Sondike’s Study from the Journal of Adolescent Health: People in the eat-more-high-quality-food group ate a total of 65,000 more calories and lost 141% more weight.
How are these results possible? Research reveals two main reasons: First, a calorie isnot a calorie. Second, an unclogged fat metabolism system burns excess calories instead of storing them. The next section will cover why a calorie isnot a calorie, so let’s turn first to how unclogging enables our body to burn—instead of store—excess calories.
In a Mayo Clinic study, researchers fed people 1,000 extra calories per day for eight weeks. A thousand extra calories per day for eight weeks totals 56,000 extra calories. Everyone gained sixteen pounds—56,000 calories worth—of body fat, right?
Nobody gained sixteen pounds. The most anyone gained was a little over half that. The least anyone gained was basically nothing—less than a pound. How could that be true? People are eating 56,000 extra calories and gaining basically no body fat? How can 56,000 extra calories add up to nothing?
That’s because extra calories don’t have to turn into body fat. They could turn into heat. They could be burned off automatically. Researcher D.M. Lyon in the medical journal QJM reported: “Food in excess of immediate requirements…can easily be disposed of, being burnt up and dissipated as heat. Did this capacity not exist, obesity would be almost universal.”
Eating more and gaining less is possible because an unclogged metabolism has all sorts of underappreciated ways to process excess calories other than storing them as body fat. In the Mayo Clinic study, researchers measured three of them:
- Increase the amount of calories burned daily.
- Increase the amount of calories burned digesting food.
- Increase the amount calories burned via unconscious activity.
So how did some people ate 56,000 extra calories and gain essentially nothing? Instead of storing the excess calories as body fat, their unclogged metabolisms automatically increased the base amount of calories they burned.
On the surface this study seems shocking, but we have all seen examples of “eat more, burn more” in our day-to-day lives. Think about naturally thin people you know who eat a lot, exercise a little, and stay slim. They eat more and burn more. Just as eating less causes the fat metabolism system to slow down, eating more causes an unclogged metabolism to speed up.
The key to long-term fat loss isn’t eating less or exercising more. It’s getting our metabolism to burn rather than to store excess calories.
- Apfepoundaum M Bostsarron J, Lacatis D: Effect of caloric restriction and excessive caloric intake on energy expenditure. Am J Clin Nutr 1971; 24:1405-1409
- Bray GA. Obesity–a state of reduced sympathetic activity and normal or high adrenal activity (the autonomic and adrenal hypothesis revisited). Int J Obes. 1990;14 Suppl 3:77-91; discussion 91-2. Review. PubMed PMID: 2086518.
- D. M. Lyon , And D. M. Dunlop, the Treatment of Obesity: A Comparison of the Effects of Diet And of Thyroid Extract, QJM 1: 331-352.
- Fam BC, Morris MJ, Hansen MJ, Kebede M, Andrikopoulos S, Proietto J, Thorburn AW. Modulation of central leptin sensitivity and energy balance in a rat model of diet-induced obesity. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Nov;9(6):840-52. PubMed PMID: 17924866.
- Flier JS. The adipocyte: storage depot or node on the energy information superhighway? Cell. 1995 Jan 13;80(1):15-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 7813011.
- Friedman JM, Halaas JL. Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals. Nature. 1998 Oct 22;395(6704):763-70. Review. PubMed PMID: 9796811.
- Greene P, Willett W, et al. Pilot 12-week feeding weight loss comparison: low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets [abstract]. Obes Res. 2003;11:A23.
- Gulick A: A study of weight regulation in the adult human body during overnutrition. Am J Physiol 1922; 60:371-395
- Jéquier E. Leptin signaling, adiposity, and energy balance. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;967:379-88. Review. PubMed PMID: 12079865.
- Keen H, Thomas BJ, Jarrett RJ, Fuller JH. Nutrient intake, adiposity, and diabetes. Br Med J. 1979 Mar 10;1(6164):655-8. PubMed PMID: 435710; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1598272.
- Leibel RL, Rosenbaum M, Hirsch J. Changes in energy expenditure resulting from altered body weight. N Engl J Med. 1995 Mar 9;332(10):621-8. Erratum in: N Engl J Med 1995 Aug 10;333(6):399. PubMed PMID: 7632212.
- Levine JA, Eberhardt NL, Jensen MD. Role of nonexercise activity thermogenesis in resistance to fat gain in humans. Science. 1999 Jan 8;283(5399):212-4. PubMed PMID: 9880251.
- Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;16(4):679-702. Review. PubMed PMID: 12468415.
- Miller DS, Mumford P, Stock MJ: Gluttony-2. Thermogenesis in overeating man. Am J Clin Nutr 1967; 20:1223-1229
- Riestra JL, Skowsky WR, Martinez I, Swan L. Passive transfer of an appetite suppressant factor. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1977 Nov;156(2):236-40. PubMed PMID: 337318.
- Samaha FF, Iqbal N, Seshadri P, Chicano KL, Daily DA, McGrory J, Williams T, Williams M, Gracely EJ, Stern L. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003 May 22;348(21):2074-81. PubMed PMID: 12761364.
- Sondike, S., et al. “The Ketogenic Diet Increases Weight Loss But Not Cardiovascular Risk: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Adolescent Health 26: 91, 2000
- Sopko G, Jacobs DR Jr, Taylor HL. Dietary measures of physical activity. Am J Epidemiol. 1984 Dec;120(6):900-11. PubMed PMID: 6507429.
- Volek J, Sharman M, Gómez A, Judelson D, Rubin M, Watson G, Sokmen B, Silvestre R, French D, Kraemer W. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004 Nov 8;1(1):13. PubMed PMID:15533250; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC538279.
- Whipp BJ, Bray G, Koyal SN: Exercise energetics in normal man following acute weight gain. Am J Clin Nutr 1973; 26:1284-1286