It simply amazes me to see so much misconception circulating around, spread by people who don’t really have any nutritional knowledge (I don’t care of degrees because I can show you people that should be experts in nutrition but they still spread nonsense).
The truth about why we get fat is already known and well researched. Sadly I still see people trying to get around the facts and create a buzz with their misconception.
One of the more good example is Gary Taubes book called “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” in which the author states that the calories in versus calories out model is wrong.
Creating a buzz by saying something opposite of what’s real. People would become interested in why is that “true”, buying his book and wasting time along with reading useless information.
I won’t go in detail on why this book is awful and only spreads misconception because I already did a review on it. I want to talk about the main issue on why we get fat.
The Main Reason Why We Get Fat
We eat too damn much – translated in nutritional language, calories ingested exceed calories expended which means we have a surplus of calories that need to go somewhere on our body.
They simply can’t disappear in thin air. That’s why I find it so annoying to see people bashing the law of thermodynamics.
Explaining it further:
The fat cell is the main storage unit for fat.
Most of the fat that’s sitting on your body can be found in subcutaneous fat which is the fat found just under your skin.
There’s also the ectopic fat storage which is the fat stored under certain conditions. It is stored in places like liver, pancreas, and the fat that’s around your internal organs in the gut area called visceral fat.
What we are mostly interested in, is the subcutaneous fat. Whether you lose it or gain more of it is mainly based on this small “formula”:
Fat Stored – Fat Burned = Changes in body fat stores
Simplified even more, your body loses fat when fat oxidation is higher than fat storage. It gains fat when fat storage is higher than fat oxidation.
Alright, everything’s good until here.
Let’s see what happens with protein, carbohydrates and fats when ingested and you are eating over maintenance caloric intake (excess calories):
It won’t be converted to fat but if you eat excess protein. Your body will burn more protein for energy and less fat and carbohydrates.
So if you eat excess calories in the form of more protein, even if it won’t get converted to fat, the body will burn less carbohydrates and fats. In turn, it will storing more carbohydrates and fats while burning more protein.
Indirectly, even protein can make you fat. Don’t be temped to think that by only eating a protein based diet, you can stay slim.
This macro nutrient is also hardly converted to fat but when it does get converted it’s done in a process called novo lipogenesis.
Don’t get scared by this process because carbohydrates are converted to fat only under certain circumstances. The main one is to eat them in massive quantities for multiple days (quantities like over 700-800 grams daily, for days).
What happens here is that your body’s glycogen stores will get full and if they are over the daily necessary, the excess will get converted to fat.
Also, when you eat more carbohydrates, your body starts burning more of them. This means that it will inhibit fat burning by burning more carbohydrates.
Basically even if they get burned, fat oxidation is impaired. All the fat you are eating from your diet will get stored (under caloric excess conditions).
This macro nutrient has only one fate: excess dietary fat will always get stored!
If you think about avoiding any kind of fat in order to avoid storing it, you will be disappointed.
If you are eating under 10% of your calories from fat, and the rest from protein and carbohydrates, excess calories will be converted to fat through novo lipogenesis (basically your body will convert carbohydrates into fat).
Conclusion On Why We Get Fat
The final answer is pretty simple: we get fat because we eat too damn much
The good news are that we can pretty much get to a shredded level with adequate caloric intake and some training and there are plenty of books and guides around here.