TCC The Science of Fat Loss Series Part 5.1 – Decoding the Puzzle

How Do We Start to Decode the Fat Loss Puzzle??

The control of your body fat is an interplay amongst many factors. As I’ve mentioned from the very beginning, it is not just substrate availability, or “calories” that drives this whole business. You simply have to also give credence to the hormonal and metabolic environment that this is all occurring in AT THE SAME TIME. To confuse matters even more, the substrate availability does contribute to the hormonal and metabolic environment BUT it is not solely governed by it.

For example: Carbohydrates have an effect on insulin. But you can also affect insulin sensitivity in other ways (like exercise), which will also have an effect on insulin output. Eating carbohydrates after a workout can be partitioned differently with relative metabolic processing than at other times, which can assist in refuelling muscle glycogen levels quicker.

Also, your food intake doesn’t affect adrenalin output, but this is the main antagonist to insulin’s effects on your fat cells.

Strange how scientists will discuss the enzymatic and hormonal control of your fat cells at the cellular level, then completely bypass this when they take a step back and talk about The Fed State vs Fasted State. Then only revisit it again when looking at endocrine factors that control metabolism and relative disorders states. Why they never look at the interplay of these processes from the BEGINNING is beyond me. Some do. But for most it gets lost in translation.

The Interplay:

People throw the word “metabolism” around everyday without an even basic understanding of what exactly this means. It’s not good enough to just say “the amount of calories we burn”. Your body will only change these processes if it needs to. For example, your Thyroid will contribute to an increase in your rate of calorie expenditure in response to the cold. This is so it can keep warm. The Thyroid can also have its production rate influenced by other factors, such as stress and even the amount of daylight you’re exposed to. These processes are NOT strictly under calorie control.

At it’s most basic basic level, think of your fat gain / fat loss environment being influenced by

  • Enzymatic control at the fat cell level
  • Which in turn is mainly regulated by Hormones
  • Which in turn is mainly regulated by:

          1. Substrate availability: Your calories. From both ingested and previously stored forms

          2. Hormonal receptivity, Hormone levels, Hormone cascade events: NOT just your calories.

          3. Existing Metabolic environment: What’s the current metabolic status and, therefore, fate of those “calories”

As you know from the previous two instalments, the metabolic “state” the body is in has a direct influence over the fate of each macronutrient. For example, you eating carbohydrates after a fasting period have a different fate and a different effect on the body than during a “Fed State”. This partitioning of these calories and their fate has important implications in fat burning and maximising the use of each substrate.

If anyone at this stage of the process is still willing to argue with me that it is “all about the calories” please stop reading and leave. There is nothing more I can do to help you. In fact, you are beyond help.

People have seemed to have been able to accept that HIIT works better than steady state for fat loss. Even though your fitbit calorie counter might not say so. But they can’t accept it’s not just all about the calories you eat. No. THAT somehow defies science.

Coming Up in Part 5.2 – What We Have Learned So Far?

Calories Don't CountBen Minos has Bachelor degrees in both Physiotherapy and Exercise Science (Human Movements). He has worked as a Personal Trainer for 20 years and a Physiotherapist for close to 15. Ben has authored a book on nutrition titled Calories Don’t Count, available through iBooksAmazon and most online retailers. He has also authored many articles for Ironman Bodybuilding Magazine and also co authored Australia’s first Kettlebell instructor certification course. He has competed in Natural Bodybuilding over a number of years, as well as prepared numerous clients for the stage.