T Nation

Energy Balance


I attended a lecture the other night of a prominent obesity expert and researcher. She seemed to buy full bore into the "bath tub" model of energy balance. (Energy in minus energy out) Now, I've seen lay people and lay publications do this, but never have I had chance to see a scientist do this.

It blew me away! How can one honestly think that a caloric defecit or surplus of a few calories is going to make any meaningful difference? If I eat exactly one calorie more then I expend today, in ten years will I have gained a pound of fat? Who knows! I find it more likely that the body accomodates small variances in energy balances and that putting yourself into a small energy defecit, say 200 calories (about a light beer ain't it?) would result in a short period of time in simply lowering the energy expenditure to match the new intake. What was hypocaloric is now isocaloric. That shouldn't be new to anyone here.

I think everyone should read JB's "New View of Energy Balance" and I might even print out a copy for this gal when I see her tomarrow:



It does all boil down to energy in versus energy out but it's not the same as how much you eat and how much you exercise, which is how people usually interperet that saying.

There are a LOT of factors that contribute to obesity. I'd be surprised and a little disturbed too if all that this researcher discussed was kcalorie intake.


Hey Conor, can you drop a name? It'd be interesting to see what she's published.

Obesity and eliminating the condition to reduce the risks for associated morbidities is a little bit of a different animal than precision sports nutrition, too... sometimes obese folks really do just need to eat less and exercise a little more in order not to die way too soon. That could have been what she was getting at.

Unless she's dumb, which is entirely possible. There's people without a clue lecturing in every field...



To clarify, that certainly wasn't all she talked about. It was just that the way she presented energy balance as such a simple model really floored me. Especially because she was speaking to a group of students in a relevant field of study. She could have elaborated instead of offering such a narrow treatment of the topic.


Well... In a sense it is that simple. Berardi's plan happens to factor in the idea that metabolism chases food intake, but at the end of the day you still need to be eating more calories than you burn to gain mass or vice-versa to lose it. But its been a while since I read that article so i could have my head up my ass.