How do we get fat?


Everyone is always searching on or Instagram and Facebook for tips on how to lose fat, get lean or just a general lose weight! 

Im taking a different approach... If you understand on how we all all gain fat it will be easier to get your head around the principals on how to reverse this process and lose fat. Just a note from the photo, I've been on both ends of the spectrum... the fatter phase was much easier to achieve but anyways, cant have your cake and eat it. Please note this is a simplified guide and doesnt take into consideration any hormonal fluctuation such as elevated cortisol (stress hormone) etc has on the body.

Point 1: Energy Intake Exceeds Energy Output

At a fundamental level, fat storage occurs when caloric intake exceeds caloric output. 

Just look at the studies carried out over the last 30 years - its all down to the individuals under reporting (on purpose or by lack of tracking). These studies show obese individuals systematically under-report their food intake (by up to 30-50%) and over-report their activity (by about the same). When they claim to eat 1800 cals per day, its more 2400-3600 cals per day. And their activity isn’t nearly what they think - they undershoot on how much non exercise activity they actually do.

When you put those same folks in controlled metabolic ward conditions and control their food intake and/or activity output…Oooooooolay!... the energy balance equation holds. 

Point 2: Nutrient Intake, Oxidation and Storage Part
The primary storage of fat in the body is in fat cells. We will focus on subcutaneous fat which is fat held underneath the skin.
You can think of fat balance as the fat specific equivalent of energy balance. That is Net Change in Fat Stores = Fat Stored – Fat Burned

I’d note that the same nutrient balance holds for protein, carbohydrates. That is, the net effect on bodily stores, whether protein or carbohydrate stores in the body increases, decreases or stays the same comes down to the balance of protein/carb stored vs. protein or carbs/burned.

So at a fundamental level, fat gain occurs when fat storage exceeds fat burning. And fat loss occurs when fat oxidation exceeds fat storage. I’d note that both processes take place in some amounts throughout the day, controlled by a host of processes I’m not going to talk about. 

Point 3: Back to Nutrient Intake, Oxidation and Storage

Carbs are rarely converted to fat.
When you eat more carbs you burn more carbs and less fat; eat less carbs and you burn less carbs and more fat.
Protein is basically pretty much never going to be converted to fat (it can but the body doesnt like to undergo this process if it can help it.)

When you eat more protein, you burn more protein (and by extension, less carbs and less fat); eat less protein and you burn less protein (and by extension, more carbs and more fat)
Ingested dietary fat is primarily stored, eating more of it doesn’t impact on fat oxidation to a significant degree.

Carbs don’t make you fat via direct conversion and storage to fat; but excess carbs can still make you fat by blunting out the normal daily fat oxidation so that all of the fat you’re eating is stored. Which is why a 500 cal surplus of fat and a 500 cal surplus of carbs can both make you fat; they just do it for different reasons through different mechanisms. The 500 calories of excess fat is simply stored; the excess 500 calories of carbs ensure that all the fat you’re eating is stored because carb oxidation goes up and fat oxidation goes down. 

 Let’s assume someone is eating at exactly maintenance calories. Neither gaining nor losing fat. Here’s what happens with excess calories. Assume that all three conditions represent identical increases in caloric intake, just from each of the different macros. Here’s what happens mechanistically and why all three still make you fat:
- Excess dietary fat is directly stored as fat
- Excess dietary carbs increases carb oxidation, impairing fat oxidation; more of your daily fat intake is stored as fat
- Excess dietary protein increases protein oxidation, impairing fat oxidation; more of your daily fat intake is stored as fat

All three situations make you fat, just through different mechanisms. Fat is directly stored and carbs and protein cause you to store the fat you’re eating by decreasing fat oxidation.And I’d note again, since someone will invariably misread this that that doesn’t mean that a low-carb and/or low-protein diet is therefore superior for fat loss. 

It still comes down to the deficit.

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