Misconception about Energy Balance and Weight Gain-Weight Loss
(First time published in 2005 – Last time edited in 24/4/2013)
A few years back, it was realized that a significant amount of energy in food intake leaves the human body as metabolic waste. There was a little confusion, but another theory was quickly invented. It was “calories in – calories out over a prolonged period of time”. This theory is widely known as “the energy balance”.
After the “Counting Calories Paradigm” is abandoned, we have been told that weight loss occurs because of a state of negative energy balance and that weight gain occurs because of a state of positive energy balance. Such an explanation is accepted as an unquestionable scientific truth by the entire scientific community.
Here are just two examples that reflect the present scientific explanation of the occurrence of weight gain and weight loss based on the “Energy Balance Paradigm”.
According to Wikipedia:
“Weight loss occurs when an individual is in a state of negative energy balance. When the human body is losing more chemical energy in work and heat than it is gaining from food or other nutritional supplements, it wills catabolise stored reserves (or fat) inside the body.”
According to Association for the Study of Obesity:
“Weight gain occurs when the amount of energy (calories) consumed as food and drink exceeds the energy which is used for exercise and other metabolic processes of the body. This is known as positive energy balance. The excess energy is stored principally as fat. Each kilogram of fat stores approximately 9000kcal. This fat can only be lost when the body requires more energy than is available from food and thus draws upon its energy stores. This is known as negative energy balance.”
This sounds scientific, but let us scrutinise this unquestionable scientific truth. How is it possible to describe the situation where a body is in a state of negative energy balance (at which point the human body is in a state of negative energy balance)? Is it when the body is in a state of negative energy balance, when there are no calories left in the digestive system and at this point it is when the body “draws upon its energy stores” (literarily, bite fat tissues.....self-cannibalism ..?) Or is it that the human body is in a state of negative energy balance when there is 1kcal calorie left in the digestive system and at this point the metabolism starts to “draw upon its energy stores”? Or is it when the human body is in a state of negative energy balance and decides to “draw upon its energy stores” (literarily, bite fat tissues) when 5kcal is left in the digestive system, or when 10kcal, 50kcal, 500kcal, or when there is 2000kcal?
The same questions apply for “a state of positive energy balance”; at which point is the human body in a state of “positive energy balance”? Is the human body in a “state of positive energy balance” when there is 1kcal in the digestive system that the body decides to convert this energy into fat mass for later use, or is it when there is 5kcal, 10kcal, or when there is 50kcal, 500kcal, or 2000kcal in the digestive system?
To get the idea of how this scientific explanation is pointless you can discover it in this way: In the time when you read this article, ask yourself are you at this moment in a state of “positive energy balance” or are you in a “state of negative energy balance” or you are in a state of grace with counting calories - calories in, equal calories out. (It will be funny if such a misconception was not responsible for so many peoples misery.)
The common understanding is that the body will lose weight when it expends more energy than it takes in, and this sounds reasonable that to make up the shortfall in energy, it must come from somewhere. But the question is; when does the body expend more energy than what it takes in? Is it when there is one calorie left in the digestive system, etc.?
One important fact that needs to be taken into consideration is that a restriction of food intake negatively affects the strength of the body among everyone; it doesn’t matter if a person is obese, overweight, normal weight or underweight.
The explanation that obesity occurs when the human body takes in more energy than it expends over a given period of time at the first moment sounds reasonable and it leads to the conclusion that the energy balance over a period of time in biology is real. Only one fact needs to be taken into consideration, that in the real world it is not possible to have a situation where a balance exists over a period of time, but it doesn’t exist at a particular point of these periods of time. In the real world, from nothing cannot turn into something, no matter how long a period of time it is.
Concerning weight loss/weight gain in the human body at any particular point, in any given period of time, this energy balance does not exist.
For example, the financial balance over a given period of time is real. We do not need to know for each day what the financial situation is. It is enough on the end of the year to count how much was made and how much was spent. Whether we know or do not know what the financial situation is for each day is not important. What is important is that the financial situation for each day of the year exists (it is real) and if we like to know what the financial situation for a particular day is, we would be able to gather this knowledge. In each day of the year, it is possible to know what the current financial balance is and that enables us to know what the balance between the annual income and the annual expenditure is.
The impossibility to know what the financial situation is in one particular day will make it pointless for any attempt to know what the financial balance is for one year.
Any attempt to observe the change of things that we cannot find, their existence at the present point of time (which is the case with the state of positive and negative energy balance) is pointless.
Concerning the topic of weight gain/loss, it is not possible to locate the point in time when the body is in a state of positive or negative energy balance because the state of positive and state of negative energy balance does not exist.
Weather and climate balance over a given period of time is a real thing because we can see and know what the current climate and weather situation is and because of that, we can observe the change that is happening in the climate and weather situation over a period of time. We can observe only changes that really happened.
The body weight is a real thing and we can observe change in weight over any given period of time, and we are also able to know exactly the weight of the body at any present point in a given period of time.
Naturally thin people and people affected by certain types of injury, the elderly, and people affected by weightlessness and many other examples shows that the scientific explanation based on “energy balance” to explain weight gain/weight loss is pointless.
If we undertake a closer examination of weight loss induced by weight loss surgeries, we can discover some disturbing facts about the real cause of weight loss. Everyone thinks that weight loss after weight loss surgery is due to restrictions of food intake and that is wrong. In reality, the mechanism of weight loss induced by weight loss surgery is identical to the mechanism of involuntary weight loss by people affected with certain types of injuries.
The mechanism of weight loss induced by weight loss surgery is explained in the article: “The Underlining Mechanism of Weight Loss Induced by Bariatric Surgery (Weight Loss Surgery), published in the book;Modern Science of Biomechanics & Weight Gain and Weight Loss ( in the Part 1, Chapter 11).
It is hard to believe, but all this evidence points to the theory that a body stores unused energy as a fat mass in fat tissues for later use is based on the assumption that metabolic waste is calorie free. The fact that a significant amount of energy in food intake leaves the body as metabolic waste shows alone that the “Energy Balance Paradigm” is a product of intellectual misery.
In real life, there are plenty of examples that clearly shows that building fat mass (weight gain) on the body cannot be explained as simply a matter of a state of positive energy balance, and there is plenty of evidence available that shows that building off the fat mass (weight loss) cannot be explained as simply a matter of a state of negative energy balance.
Restriction of food intake usually (not always) leads to weight loss. Involvement in moderate or rigorous exercise usually (not always) leads to weight loss. In both cases, the occurrence of weight loss is explained as a direct consequence of a state of negative energy balance and that is wrong.
For example, people affected by weightlessness (cosmonauts and astronauts), intake of food alone will not produce any weight gain on them. This means that in weightlessness, food is essential for sustaining life, but it will not produce any weight gain as it will also not prevent or slowdown weight loss.
To prevent weight loss, and also to counteract other negative consequences for health caused by weightlessness, cosmonauts and astronauts spend a great amount of time doing exercises on specially designed exercise machines and devices.
Here on Earth, we have many examples when a regular or increased food intake does not cause any weight gain.
In many cases, a normal or increased food intake alone is not sufficient to prevent or to slow involuntary weight loss.
A regular or increased food intake does not produce weight gain to the elderly, people affected with long standing illnesses, certain type of injuries and those affected by prolonged bed rest.
It is a widely accepted thought that food intake together with physical activity is responsible for building muscle mass and that food intake alone or combined with physical inactivity is responsible for building fat mass, but on the other hand, the examples of people affected by weightlessness, prolonged bed rest, or long standing illnesses and the elderly, it is clear that the absence of physical activity or insufficient physical activity with a regular or increased food intake will not produce any weight gain.
In all these examples, it is clear that a regular or increased food intake alone is not enough not only to gain new weight, but it will not be enough to maintain the existing body weight.
It is known that with heavy exercise, it is possible to achieve weight loss. But it is also known that the body does not lose weight at the time of doing these exercises. Weight loss occurs after the exercise is done. The body maintains an elevating breathing rate for a few minutes after exercising and after that period regains pre-exercise breathing level. The post exercise oxygen consumption does not explain the post exercise weight loss.
Without understanding the basic biology of weight gain and weight loss including the mechanisms underlining body weight distribution, any attempt to treat obesity is irresponsible and dangerous.
(Added on 30 March 2011)
Since early 2010, “The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)”, the United Kingdom’s foremost organisation dedicated to the understanding and treatment of obesity, has removed from their website everything that mentioned calories in – calories out and the energy balance. Up to the date of 30 March 2011on “The web site of the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)” there is nothing about calories or “energy balance”. The ASO used to run the ORIC, the Obesity Resource and Information Centre. The ORIC disappeared from the internet early 2010.
(Added on 31 March 2011)
The UK Government's Foresight Report 'Tackling Obesities: Future Choices', in 2007, 2008 and 2009 involving around 100 obesity scientists, was based on the “Energy Balance Paradigm”. It appears that all Foresight UK work related to the problem of obesity was not only fruitless, but it was also misleading. It seems that since early 2010, Foresight UK doesn’t do any work on the obesity problem.