For the past several decades our dietary preferences have been largely influenced by two hypotheses, The Energy Balance Hypothesis & The Lipid Hypothesis. The theory of Energy Balance is based on the 1st law of Thermodynamics which says that Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can only be transformed from one state to another. In terms of metabolism within the body it has been applied as

Energy Balance (Weight Gain/Loss) = Energy (calories) In  - Energy (calories) Out

We have already covered The Lipid Hypothesis in great detail in another post & I will explore The Energy Balance Hypothesis also in greater detail in another post. Here we must only ponder if the 1st Law of Thermodynamics can be really applied to living organisms. If as a scientific truth, it must, then there must be other forces also at play, because the theory fails miserably to explain many observed facts.

Many writers, researchers, scientists & doctors agree that ‘a calorie is not a calorie’. Its more important where the calorie comes from. So basically they agree that the Energy Balance theory falls way short in trying to explain how & why some people get fat or some won’t put on an ounce for whatever they may eat. The absence of scientific & logical answers has given rise to The Lipophilia Hypothesis as a workable alternate. Simply put Lipophilia means ‘in love with fat’ or ‘fat loving’.

To better understand the concept behind Lipophilia it is first important to define obesity. The current definition of obese is any person having a BMI over 30. The BMI itself is a 2 dimensional measure and does not take into consideration many important factors like bone density, water and/or visceral or subcutaneous fat or lean tissue content. It is measured in kg/mtr2 more or less meaning “mass per unit area”. I find that a little hard to digest because mass per unit area of say the ankles is very different to that of the stomach or chest. I simply love the new definition of obesity given by Steven O'Rahilly of the University of Cambridge, Metabolic Research Laboratories, Institute of Medical Science - “obesity is most simply defined as a state in which the total amount of triglycerides stored in adipose tissue is abnormally increased.”

To begin, let’s refresh a few facts. All fat in the body is stored in fat (adipose) tissue which is unevenly distributed in the body. The area of distribution is largely determined by the sex hormones and that is why men & women put on fat differently. Males develop more muscle and the females put on more fat for purposes of species proliferation, which is Nature working at it’s best. If the individual’s adipose tissue is Lipophilic (fat loving) then the person has a tendency for weight gain & vice-versa. That is the theory in it’s simplest form. But let’s look at some pathways to throw more light on the subject.

The Lipophilic mechanisms of obesity work as follows (1) When you ingest carbs, more particularly simple or refined or fast carbs (2) It breaks down to its base molecules of glucose (3) In response the pancreas secrete Insulin proportionately (4) Insulin helps circulate the glucose for (i) glycogen storage (ii) energy consumption in cells (iii) conversion to triglycerides & fat storage in adipose tissue (5) the conversion from glucose to TG leads to the creation of a byproduct “a glycerol phosphate” or activated glycerol (6) this substance disrupts the balance of the TG/FFA (triglyceride / free fatty acid) cycle. (7) Normally TGs are constantly breaking into FFAs and released into circulation to be further converted to ketones and used for energy (8) With the cycle disrupted a large TG bank is created in the adipose cells which gets locked in and cannot be released unless converted to FFAs (9) The adipose tissue starts to expand with the new TG deposits and we start to become fatter.

Only the FFAs in circulation can enter or exit the adipose tissue. TGs are normally much larger to be able to do that. The TG/FFA conversion happens only inside the tissue. On a high fat way of eating there is a large amount of FFAs in circulation. These can easily enter & exit the fat cells if and when required. The TG/FFA cycle continues to work normally and the result is a leaner body. This theory is able to better explain many of the anomalies observed and surely will find larger audience and acceptance in times to come.     

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