Fat Metabolism in Animals: It's Regulated by Hormones. So Why Do Health Authorities Tell Us to Count Calories?

The science of fat metabolism developed feverishly during the 1930s-1960s. Clinicians honed and tested complicated models to describe the regulation of fat tissue in both human beings and animals.

Notwithstanding that this science has never been disproven, obesity researchers today inevitably ignore what's going on at the level of the fat tissue and instead focus mostly on manipulating "Calories In" and "Calories Out."

Why this disconnect between the biochemistry of fat tissue and obesity research?

Because researchers believe that the 1st law of thermodynamics mandates that "calories count." They've apparently never stopped to consider the Lipophilia Hypothesis, which proposes that changes in fat metabolism drive calorie balance.

As we've discussed, both the Lipophilia and Caloric Balance hypotheses make predictions about how and why we maintain our weight over time.

Caloric Balance says we must 'watch what we eat' and 'get our butts to the gym' to maintain our "Calories In" and "Calories Out" at a healthy level.

Lipophila says that calorie manipulation does nothing. The issue is what's happening at the level of our fat tissue. It asks questions like: What drives fat metabolism? Why do we gain fat in the fat tissue? And why do we lose fat from the fat tissue? It tells us that the mechanisms that keep us at a stable weight must be unconscious and physiological.

Researchers agree that hormones can regulate fat metabolism in animals. So why not humans?

This is very puzzling. Why would animals regulate their fat tissue via hormones and homeostasis while humans regulate their fat tissue via "calorie control"?

1. Check out page 346 from this book called Exploring Psychology:[1]

"People and other animals automatically regulate their caloric intake to prevent energy deficits and maintain a stable body weight. This suggests that the body is somehow, somewhere, keeping tabs on its available resources. One such resource is the blood sugar glucose. Increases in the hormone insulin diminish blood glucose, partly by converting it into stored fat. The body is normally adept at maintaining its blood glucose level, but if that level drops, hunger increases. You do not consciously feel this change in your blood chemistry. Rather your brain is automatically monitoring information on your body's internal state."

So weight is unconsciously maintained? In both humans and animals? If so, this is a clear indication that Lipophilia must be right.

2. Well, let's take a look at another paper. This article discusses how thyroid hormones and other hormones impact weight in both animals and humans.

Sure, the article also argues that diet and exercise play critical roles in fat tissue regulation. But once you admit that hormones or homeostasis play any role whatsoever in weight maintenance, you have gone down the path towards Lipophilia.

It makes no sense to say that the only thing that matters in terms of how we gain or lose weight are "Calories In" and "Calories Out" and then say that hormones matter. If you want to argue that overeating and under exercising leads to weight gain and that eating less and exercising more leads to weight loss, then logic compels you to abandon the notion that homeostatic or hormonal regulation of fat tissue occurs.

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1. Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology p 364. Worth Publishers (2008).

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