Overeating Is Not The Primary Cause For Obesity | Study Suggests

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Why am I ganining weight? Every time I ask this question, I stop at my first memory of me eating that last doughnut and then rationalize that I eat too much.

After that, I go on a week, sometimes a month-long journey to lose weight and get back in shape, only to find myself back at the end of the same line after a few months.

Do you face the same problem? Do you find yourself unable to maintain weight? Do you find yourself gaining weight even after eating too little?

Then maybe this new perspective published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may interest you. To understand this perspective, let’s start with the current energy-balance model:

The Energy-Balance Model

Right now, most trainers, fitness experts, and enthusiasts depend upon the energy-balance model to maintain weight which explains weight gain as a result of consumption of more energy (calories) than you expend.

Based on this model, To lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories and increase physical activity to burn more calories.

However, the perspective published on the carbohydrate-insulin model explains weight gain differently.

According to the authors of the carbohydrate-insulin model, the energy-balance model only restates a principle of physics, “conceptualizing obesity as a disorder of energy balance restates a principle of physics without considering the biological mechanisms underlying weight gain.” 

woman eating donuts

The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model | An Effective, Long-Lasting Weight Management Strategie?

The carbohydrate-insulin model explains obesity as a metabolic disorder driven by what we eat rather than how much.

Simply, the carbohydrate-insulin model suggests that we need to consider not only how much we eat but also how the foods we eat affect our hormones and metabolism.

Even though the origins of The carbohydrate-insulin model date back to the early 1900s, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition perspective is the most comprehensive formulation of this model to date.

It was authored by a team of 17 internationally recognized scientists and health experts.

One of the authors Dr. David Ludwig, Endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School says that “the energy balance model doesn’t help us understand the biological causes of weight gain; During a growth spurt, for instance, adolescents may increase food intake by 1,000 calories a day”.

“But does their overeating cause the growth spurt or does the growth spurt cause the adolescent to get hungry and overeat?”

The carbohydrate-insulin model claims that overeating isn’t the root cause of obesity.

The blame for the current obesity epidemic belongs to modern dietary patterns, consumption of foods with a high glycemic load.

These foods cause hormonal responses that fundamentally change our metabolism, driving fat storage, weight gain, and obesity.

When we eat processed carbs, the body increases insulin secretion and suppresses glucagon secretion, which signals the fat cells to store more calories leaving fewer calories to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues.

The brain perceives the lack of energy in the body which leads to feelings of hunger. To conserve fuel, metabolism also slows down.

So, you tend to remain hungry, even when you are gaining excess fat (This also explains why you are hungry even after eating all day long).

According to this perspective, we need to consider not only how much we eat, but also how the food we eat affects our hormones and metabolism.

Assuming that all calories are alike, the energy balance model is only restating a principle of physics.

Healthy Diet Practice, According to Carbohydrate-Insulin Model

The carbohydrate-insulin model suggests that focusing on what we eat is important.

According to Dr. Ludwig, “reducing consumption of the rapidly digestible carbohydrates that flooded the food supply during the low-fat diet era lessens the underlying drive to store body fat. As a result, people may lose weight with less hunger and struggle.

However, The authors acknowledge that further research is needed to test both models.

In brief, eat natural/real foods to fuel yourself and avoid processed carbs. You will not only find it easier to lose weight but, maintaining weight will also be a piece of cake.

You can even use apps like cronomater to track your calories, nutrition, etc, of natural foods you consume. It’s a pretty handy app and can help you eat smartly.


The carbohydrate-insulin model points out a very crucial aspect of fitness. However, more research is still needed to arrive at a solid conclusion.

For now, you can take the middle road to lose weight: Consume fewer calories and make sure those few calories are also from nutritious, healthy natural sources.

P.S Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article on obesity, feel free to share them. Moreover, leave a question down below in the comment section if you have any.

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Hi, I am Rudra, a computer engineer, and a certified procrastinator. I started FitnessGained in 2018 to help me stay fit despite all my desk time. Now I run this blog as a hobby. Here at FitnessGained, I will share what I do to stay fit & more. Our motto is "Reaching True Potential with Effort."

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