Serious analytical inconsistencies challenge the validity of the energy balance theory

Heliyon. 2020 Jul 10;6(7):e04204. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04204. eCollection 2020 Jul.


Energy metabolism theory affirms that body weight stability is achieved as over time the average energy intake equals the average energy expenditure, a state known as energy balance. Here it is demonstrated, however, that weight stability coexists with a persistent energy imbalance. Such unexpected result emerges as a consequence of the answers to three fundamental problems: 1. Is it possible to model body weight fluctuations without the energy balance theory? And if so, what are the benefits over the energy balance strategy? 2. During energy balance, how the oxidized macronutrient distribution that underlies the average energy expenditure is related to the macronutrient distribution of the average energy intake? 3. Is energy balance possible under a low-fat diet that simultaneously satisfies the following conditions? (a) The fat fraction of the absorbed energy intake is always less than the oxidized fat fraction of the energy expenditure. (b) The carbohydrate fraction of the absorbed energy intake is always greater or equal to the oxidized carbohydrate fraction of the energy expenditure. The first of these issues is addressed with the axiomatic method while the rest are managed through analythical arguments. On the whole, this analysis identifies inconsistencies in the principle of energy balance. The axiomatic approach results also in a simple mass balance model that fits experimental data and explains body composition alterations. This model gives rise to a convincing argument that appears to elucidate the advantage of low-carbohydrate diets over isocaloric low-fat diets. It is concluded, according to the aforementioned model, that weight fluctuations are ultimately dependent on the difference between daily food mass intake and daily mass loss (e.g., excretion of macronutrient oxidation products) and not on energy imbalance. In effect, it is shown that assuming otherwise may caused unintended weight gain.

Keywords: Applied mathematics; Biological sciences; Body weight; Energy balance; Health sciences; Low-carbohydrate diet; Low-fat diet; Mass balance; Metabolism; Pathophysiology; Physiology.