Calorie In/Calorie Out

Brian’s comment from the “Grain-fed Cattle vs Grain-fed People” post:


I tried explaining the paleo diet to a few runners this weekend after our weekly softball game and they had the same dietary mantra that I had before I got brainwash…I mean, before I learned from you. “It doesn’t matter what you eat, if you burn off more than you put in, you won’t gain weight.” I tried to explain to them about body composition and the role of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but I’m pretty sure they just didn’t believe me.

Is there a short, like no more than 2-3 paragraph answer to this common refrain that you have handy that we can all use?


Overweight individuals are not overweight because they ate too much and/or exercised too little. Instead, they are overweight because of the hormones in their bodies. You see, we all have the same hormones, but our lifestyles will dictate which ones are released and in what amount. Therefore, if you fuel your body improperly (i.e. frankenfoods) or stress your body too much (i.e. chronic cardio, lack of sleep, etc.) you will be promoting the production and release of hormones that may drive you to become fat. Once you are overweight, you will eat more and exercise less because that is the signal your body is now conveying. This happens because the hormones being produced in overweight people are triggering the fat cells to be greedy and not release the fat to be used by the body as energy. The body compensates by:

  1. going into conservation mode (i.e. inactivity/lethargy)
  2. signaling for more fuel through hunger/appetite.

A good example of this are growing kids. They don’t go through growth spurts because they are taking in more calories than they are expending. Instead, they take in more than they are burning because they are going through a growth spurt. This means that the growth hormones in their bodies are signaling for an increase in energy so they can grow. Thus, the large appetites of children when they are growing.

Another good example would be someone who has been eating and exercising the exact same for a long time while maintaining a steady body weight and then they inexplicably put on a few extra pounds. This is because they have been following the calorie-in/calorie-out mantra for far too long and it finally caught up to them. They destroyed their inner workings to the degree that they are now insulin resistant and fat storing machines. The fat cells have become greedy and this will drive them to obesity unless changes are made to what they are eating, not how much.