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A New View of Energy Balance
A Violent Uprising?
Arthur Schopenhauer, a preeminent 19th century philosopher, once said that truth isn’t always as easily accepted as we’d like it to be. Specifically, he stated: "Truth always goes in 3 stages. First it is ridiculed, then violently opposed, and finally accepted as self-evident."
The Current View of Energy Balance
The next image below represents the conventional view of the energy balance equation during weight loss. As the diagram represents, when "calories out" exceed "calories in," body mass should be lost.
Now, in looking at these pictures it’s important to understand exactly what they represent. These pictures represent a scientific model, or in other words, a mental picture, or idealization, based on physical concepts and aesthetic notions that account for what scientists see regarding a particular phenomenon. And not only does a scientific model, as described above, explain a particular phenomenon, it allows scientists to predict a future course for the phenomenon in question.
Three Strikes and You’re Out
Client Information from September 2002:
Client Information from December 2002:
Net result — 12 weeks:
*Note that in case study #1, we increased energy intake by a whopping 1500 per day while energy expenditure remained the same. Since the athlete was weight stable in September—prior to hiring me—you might have expected her to have gained weight during our 12 week program. However, as you can see, she lost 25lbs (while preserving most of her muscle mass). Since the energy balance model above, as it appears, can’t explain this very interesting result, that’s one strike.
*Case Study #2:
Client Information from August 2003:
Client Information from October 2003:
Net result — 8 weeks:
*Notice that in case study #2, we increased energy intake by between 500 and 700 per day while increasing energy expenditure by about 400 per day. Again, since the lifter was weight stable in June, prior to hiring me, you might have expected him to have gained weight or at least remained weight stable during this 8 week program. However, as you can see, he lost 7 lbs. But that’s not the most interesting story. During the 8 weeks, he lost almost 20lbs of fat while gaining almost 13 lbs of lean mass. Since the energy balance model above, as it appears, can’t explain this very interesting result, that’s two strikes.
*Case Study #3:
Client Information from June 2004:
Client Information from August 2004:
Net results — 8 weeks:
*Notice that in case study #3, we increased energy intake by between 1100 and 1300 per day while increasing energy expenditure by only about 300 per day. Again, since the lifter was weight stable in June, prior to hiring me, you might have expected him to have experienced a large gain in mass, both significant muscle and fat gains. However, as you can see, he gained 8 total lbs, having lost almost 14lbs of fat while gaining nearly 22lbs of lean mass.
Simplicity and Energy Balance
After looking at the case studies above, you might be wondering where the
Although scientists are still trying to work out what types of metabolic
Factors Affecting Energy Balance
Now, when I say that most people assume too much simplicity by associating energy intake with calorie intake alone, and energy expenditure with exercise activity alone, I’m not shaking my finger at them. Obviously, of the factors playing into energy balance, these are the most readily modifiable. But, assuming they are the only factors playing into energy balance is what gets people into trouble.
Obviously, this relationship is much more complex than most people make it out to be. Sure, on the energy intake side of the equation, things are fairly
Relationships Between Energy In and Energy Out
In order to add another touch of complexity to the discussion, as discussed
Dr. JB’s Energy Balance Model
Let’s walk through this model together.
Notice that there are two possible "uncoupling points" in this energy balance model.
The first uncoupling point lies in the communication between energy sensing/brain signaling (the lower arrow) and the second lies in the communication between the brain and the body—particularly in the drive to eat and the drive to move (the upper arrow).
First, on the energy sensing/signaling end, periodic re-feeding, the use of
Also, uncoupling can occur as a result of performing more exercise and non-exercise activity (including using strategies for increasing the cost of each activity — wearing an X-vest when walking, for example) in an attempt to maintain pre-diet energy expenditure.
In addition, as most of you know, I believe that alterations in food type (what
And if after reading these articles, you still don’t buy into the calore is not a calorie argument (which is closely related to the concepts presented in this article), check out this recent scientific paper by Buchholz and Schoeller (6).
Finally, check out my review of my presentation at the 2004 SWIS Symposium for a more complete treatment of how to use the information presented in this article to impact fat loss.
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