The two most popular words in the low carb dieting world are gluconeogenesis and de novo lipogenesis (or is that four words). Both are red herrings for what actually happens, now don’t get me wrong both happen in our bodies daily but they aren’t the main way the process happens. Also there is this false claim that we are all eating more but calorie intake is actually down by quite a bit, so why aren’t we all losing weight and why are we still dealing with an obesity issue?
“Eat fat to lose fat” is that true?
First let’s address the two words, basically gluconeogenesis is the process your body uses to break down glucose when you don’t make it readily available, the two primary sources are protein and fat (since the idea is that glucose is not available). In theory we evolved with this way of doing things in times where carbohydrates weren’t abundant. This process also happens when carbs aren’t abundant acutely because your brain requires glucose to survive. I use to joke in live seminars where there was a brain and a person negotiating about denying carbohydrate intake and the brain would ask “but why would you do that, it makes me hurt” (I didn’t say it was a funny joke but it was funny to me and the delivery typically killed). So while the body CAN do it, the body doesn’t prefer to do it that way. It’s funny, any time you talk about carbohydrate consumption some low carber chimes in “high carb diet, high carb diet” as if a reasonable amount of carbs for your bodies needs doesn’t exist.
De novo lipogenesis is possibly the biggest red herring of all, it’s the process within your body where carbs are stored as fat. To give you an example, in studies that were deliberately trying to over feed participants with specifically carbohydrates and refined sugar a mere 1.4% of fat storage came from de novo lipogenesis, the body is much more likely to use that excess energy rather than store it.
So why do we have more fat than we would like, that answer is pretty simple. Your body stores fat to keep you alive, the primary driver of course is carbohydrates eaten WITH fat. A convenient fact that low carbers ignore is that fat stores as fat MUCH easier than carbs. Which is a real problem but like I said above, not our biggest problem but let me address the insulin hypothesis here real quick. It would seem obvious, even logical, that if you can decrease insulin you could hypothesize that fat could not store. This can be easily be disproved in about 3 days of just eating 10,000 calories of just fat, which seems ridiculous right, why would anyone do that? Well, the few studies that do support low carb dieting do exactly that the opposite way, they try to argue that the 1.4% adds up over time as if we don’t all eat mixed meals with protein, fats and carbs. The insulin hypothesis was put out there by Gary Taubes and has been disproven by science up to this point by a series of studies that were funded by a group led (in part) by Gary Taubes. In short, what the studies showed was that compared to the standard american diet (which by the way I am not in favor of or arguing for) that low carb was not superior in terms of burning fat. When calories were adjusted neither was superior, this was a big deal because what it said is essentially what I am saying in these articles. Low carb dieting is mostly dealing with water levels and not fat.
So let me just stop there because there are a lot of severely obese people that will often show up when you write an article about low carb dieting. They will throw out “oh yeah buddy, well I am down 60 pounds so put that in your pipe and smoke it” and they aren’t wrong. Weight alone is a powerful motivator but here is my question, did they try a balanced approach also? The severely obese, as you can imagine are carrying around a lot of water and a lot of fat and just so we are clear here, they are losing mostly water but some fat assuming they are eating in a caloric deficit and let’s be real, if you are obese and you are moving to a low carb diet you are essentially trying to manage the discomfort. What I can say to you is that we ALSO get amazing results for the severely obese with an intervention of food, activity and lifestyle changes. Are you pulling more water out with low carb and therefore losing a bit more weight, sure but that is often offset with a balanced approach by the increase in metabolism of gradually lowering calories so activity can be a big part of the mix. I think an example would work well here for illustration:
Recently I saw a before and after of someone that lost 50 pounds in about a 2 year period low carbing and in a calorie deficit. Most of the weight was lost early on and the last 20 pounds were the hardest, that will be the same for the second person as well. The goal for this individual was very clearly “weight loss” and she lost muscle in that process, so it wasn’t all fat by a long shot.
In the second example is an Eat To Performer, I will add her case study to down below and give everyone the chance to opt in to all of our other case studies. She ALSO lost over 50 pounds but in about 9 months and kept more muscle in that process! But how and why would it be faster than the low carb approach? That’s simple and that will be the emphasis of my next article on this topic but let me just say this, if overall we are eating less then why aren’t we losing fat?
A couple of notes about the video below, this case study was from a series we sold last year, in the video I say she has lost 40 pounds but she actually continued on to go as low as 158.1. All while maintaining muscle and that will be the emphasis of tomorrow’s article. Also ETP members will be able to notice there have been a lot of changes and improvements even since this video last year. Enjoy! (make sure to subscribe to our channel, we have been uploading a lot of case studies and tutorials that help you understand how to diet better with better information).