From Ronald Hoffman, MD
Last week, top obesity researchers challenged the calories-in/calories-out hypothesis that has dominated our approach to weight loss for decades.
Study Finds heralded: “Overeating doesn’t cause obesity”
And Science Daily proclaimed: “Scientists claim that overeating is not the primary cause of obesity”
It all sounds kind of counterintuitive. We dutifully weigh our portions and consult tables and apps to determine our caloric intake. Our smartwatches and gym equipment report how many calories we burn when we exercise. This is sometimes referred to as the Energy Balance Model of weight loss. It’s based on 19th-century physics—the laws of thermodynamics—that launched the machine age.
And it makes sense, sort of. If you’re a “lead-foot” driver, your car will burn fuel faster. If you soft-pedal it, like the test drivers who establish unrealistic mpg’s that you never attain in actual traffic conditions, you save fuel. Fuel being the equivalent of dietary calories; car mileage and speed analogous to exercise intensity and duration.
Therefore, it’s simple: Eat less, and exercise more. That’s about as much nutritional advice as you’ll get from your average doctor, who still subscribes to the outmoded steampunk Energy Balance Model of weight loss. Next patient!
Looking at weight loss in this fashion is the equivalent of attempting to launch the nuclear age relying on the physics of Isaac Newton, rather than the remarkable new perspective afforded by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
A new article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition entitled “The carbohydrate-insulin model: a physiological perspective on the obesity pandemic” attempts to apply a correction.
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