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Energy versus weight loss: The Partitioning Principle

Last updated 2011-04-10 - Send Feedback
Related: body fat, health, Nutrition, training
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This is an article by Dr. Clyde Wilson, used with permission.

Legal disclaimer: Since we are not doctors, never follow anything based on health-related topics on this or related sites without first consulting with your doctor or other trusted health professional.

If more of the calories we ate went to muscle tissue, there would be fewer calories going to body fat. The concept is simple: You eat a certain amount of food, and the body distributes it to all its tissues. If more is sent to one type of tissue, there is less remaining for other tissues. I call this the Partitioning Principle.

It is common knowledge that eating too many calories increases body fat, but it is less commonly known that, without over eating, the foods you choose to eat can dramatically change how the body partitions calories, resulting in many more calories going to body fat.

What determines how the body divvies up, or partitions, the calories? Carbohydrates (blood sugar level), fats (the impact of saturated fat on the surface properties of tissues), and protein (the impact of amino acids on intracellular signaling) all impact partitioning.

When we feel high in energy both physically and mentally, that is because our muscles and brain have plenty of energy available to them. Eating in such a way that results in our feeling more energy means that more of the calories we are eating are going to our muscles and brain. By default, fewer calories are going to body fat. In general, if body fat increases, energy (both physical and mental) will go down, as will longevity since increased body fat is associated with increased disease risk.

Trying to lose body fat by simply cutting calories with no regard to making sure that the body's nutritional needs are met can easily result in low energy as well and even malnutrition, meaning reduced health and quality of life, which is to say nothing of the extreme hunger that comes from simply cutting out calories. On the other hand, if foods are eaten that naturally reduce hunger and reduce the partitioning of calories to body fat, a long-term lifestyle change can be achieved with a much higher quality of life.

Quality of life means two things: Enjoying life for as long as possible, and enjoying it as much as possible. To achieve it, we need credible health information and ways of applying that information.

 

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