Unjustified premises lead to fraudulent conclusions (II)

(versión en español: pinchar aquí)

How are the unjustified premises included in the CICO hypothesis?

The energy balance formula (EB), which is frequently used to explain how we should proceed in the case of wanting to lose, gain or maintain weight, is as simple as I quote below:

EB = caloric intake (CI) – caloric expenditure (CO).

The above equation is based on the Law of Thermodynamics

Alberto Hernández

I hope that at the end of this article we all will see in the previous quote the same deception that I see.

The conservation of energy principle

Well then, here we go. The conservation of energy principle: the energy present in the chemical links of the products that we eat (IC), either ends up being used by the body to generate movement/heat (CO), or ends up stored in a tissue/organ of the body (Adipose Tissue, GLycogen, Muscle Tissue, TUMor, etc.):

As an important note at this time, assuming a given energy intake, hypothetically the energy stored in the adipose tissue can change in response to the physiological/hormonal signals it receives, and that change, logically, would result in that either the energy expenditure would be affected or the energy stored in the rest of organs tissues would be affected. Nothing in the energy balance equation tells us this is impossible. Why do I say that it is important to highlight this possibility? Because one of the ideas that I want to explain with this article is how in the CICO hypothesis this possibility is “magically” eliminated. I will try to clarify in this article how this “magic” happens.

We make a definition

We define energy balance (EB) as calories IN (CI) minus calories OUT (CO):

And, once we have that definition we have two coupled expressions for EB, that is, two expressions that are dependent on each other:

The above equalities for EB are only correct when used together. Together they are the energy conservation equation. It is not possible to consider one of the equalities in isolation, because the other equality also contributes to establishing the correct values ​​of equality we select. With rigor, they can never be used separately.

What happens if we use only one of the two previous equalities? Please note that this is exactly what the quote at the beginning of this article does:

EB = caloric intake (CI) – caloric expenditure (CO).

If the first equality was used alone, we would arrive to a wrong conclusion, which is that EB is determined by the difference between CI and CO. Is it not what the equality says? No, it isn’t!!, because in that case the second equality is ignored! EB is not a “dead” term in this first equality, determined just by CI and CO: if we think about it for a moment, the reality is that the term EB could change because of changes in the second equality and CO could just reflect those changes. By ignoring the second equality and interpreting EB = CI-CO as the formula for calculating EB, we have arrived at the deceptive conclusion that CI and CO are the important terms for EB, the terms that “determine” it and, therefore, the only terms we have to look at. By using the first equality alone, a false causality has been created. And the important thing here is that we don’t see that we make a mistake!

The balance between calories IN and calories OUT determines our weight. Óscar Picazo

In summary: we erroneously interpret that EB is determined by CI and CO. Assuming that the intake is controllable, this points to the energy expenditure (CO) as the parameter responsible for establishing a value for the energy balance (EB).

Although we already know that we are making a mistake, I will go on with this reasoning in order to expose the conclusions it leads to. With a EB that has been (fraudulently) determined by CI and CO, now we use the second equality.

Once we have a EB term that has already been established by equality 1), another deception is created, which is to assume that the only energy in our body that can change is the one stored in the adipose tissue (AT). This is absolutely unwarranted and is deceptive (as proved if we just apply the same mistake to any other term of the second equality):

From this (false) second equality, it follows that the energy balance (EB) value established by CI and CO will command the adipose tissue to store or release energy. As I already anticipared that it would happen, by using the 2 equalities one after the other, instead of always using them together, an unjustified premise has been included in the argument: the possibility that the AT term changes by itself and the rest of terms adapt to that change has been removed. The chain of mistakes that have been made has turned the adipose tissue into a passive tissue: now it obeys what is commanded by the difference between the Calories IN and Calories OUT. This conclusion has not been reached because it is what physiology says, nor because it is what is inferred from the laws of thermodynamics, but as a result of the reasoning mistakes that have been made. Note that without deceptions and paralogisms that conclusion cannot be reached.

If we look again at the quote I presented at the beginning of the article, what do we see now?

How are the unjustified premises included in the CICO hypothesis?

The energy balance formula (EB), which is frequently used to explain how we should proceed in the case of wanting to lose, gain or maintain weight, is as simple as I quote below:

EB = caloric intake (CI) – caloric expenditure (CO).

The above equation is based on the Law of Thermodynamics

Alberto Hernández

If CI and CO determine EB, only one of the two equalities is used: the first one. And, as a result of that mistake, the adipose tissue is no longer a “living” tissue, capable of changing by itself while other terms adapt to its changes. Adipose tissue is not considered, because the adipose tissue is not explicitly included in the second equality. CI and CO determine EB, period. What terms are relevant in the computation of EB? If we only use one of the two equalities, only the terms included in that equality will matter. The whole approach to the treatment of obesity from this very moment is focused on CI and CO exclusively. And if it doesn’t work, then it is concluded that CI and CO are more complex than was previously thought. But, as we have seen, that one is not the error in the foundations of CICO.

It is very easy to understand what I am saying, if we start from the second equality (instead of using first one, which is what CICO does). If in the second equality we assume that AT changes by itself, that would lead us to the conclusion that AT determines the changes in EB:

And then from the first equality we would conclude that CI and CO are irrelevant. Can the second equality be used in isolation to calculate EB? It is not a rhetorical question. What is our answer?

The deception that I explain in this article is used in the arguments that defend the CICO hypothesis as the way in which our body behaves: in the speech a value for the energy expenditure is assumed and, therefore, for the energy balance, and then the second equality is used, to wrongly conclude that the adipose tissue is forced to adapt to an energy balance that has been established (by using fallacious arguments) without taking into account the adipose tissue. We clearly can see this in two quotes from Stephan Guyenet, PhD:

Any energy that’s left over after the body has used what it needs is stored as body fat. Stephan Guyenet, PhD

When calorie expenditure decreases and calorie intake increases, the energy balance equation leaves only one possible outcome: fat gain. We gained fat as we ate more calories than we needed to remain lean, given our physical activity level. In other words, we overate. Stephan Guyenet, PhD

I emphasize again how, in the behavior described in the two quotes above, it is not possible for the adipose tissue to change by itself and affect the energy balance (defined as CI-CO). As we have seen, this is possible in the correct equation, i.e. the energy conservation equation, but it is not possible in the CICO hypothesis.


The reasoning mistakes that I have explained in this article lead to the conclusion that the energy balance is established by the calorie intake (CI) minus the energy expenditure (CO). Once the energy balance term is established without taking into account the adipose tissue, this tissue is supposed to just obey the (false) energy conservation equation.

In short, with this long explanation what I try to make clear is that in the CICO hypothesis the adipose tissue is mistakenly turned into a passive tissue: from being a living tissue it is turned into a dead term, unable to change by itself. How is this fraudulent premise, which is a fundamental part of this hypothesis, introduced in CICO?That is what I have tried to explain in this article, although just to realize that it happens is a step forward in understanding the deception.

NOTE: if the 2 equalities are considered separately, to take into account many factors that affect the terms of the equalities doesn’t fix the reasoning mistakes that create CICO.

NOTE: EB=CI-CO is at the same time correct as an arbitrary definition and —for the reasons that I have explained in this article— wrong as the formula that allows the computation of EB. As we have seen, if that definition is used as an isolated formula, the principle of conservation of energy is being ignored.

Further reading:


3 respuestas a “Unjustified premises lead to fraudulent conclusions (II)

  1. There’s a chapter in the book The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant on the gorillas at the Cleveland Zoo who were sick and had many diseases similar to the diseases of civilization affecting humans and how the zoo decided to feed them with a sort of ancestral diet with modern food bought at the supermarket.

    A press release was issued by the zoo after the tried this experiment:

    Apes shed pounds while doubling calories, CWRU researcher finds


    ” Instead of spending about a quarter of their day eating the old diet, the pair now spends 50 to 60 percent of each day feeding and foraging, about the same amount of time wild gorillas forage.

    Although they take in twice as many calories on the new diet, after a year, the big boys of the primate house have dropped nearly 65 pounds each and weigh in the range of their wild relatives.”

    So they ate twice as many calories as before but with a very different diet and yes their physical activity doubled but they still lost weight. They reached to their lowest natural weight by eating twice as much as before.

    The calorie zealots who believe they understand perfectly how the laws of physics work in a complex biological body contacted the zoo:

    “…received emails from complete strangers telling them with absolute certainty that they had to be mistaken, that their findings broke the laws of physics. Calories in and calories out is all that matters when it comes to weight gain or loss, right? But a gorilla metabolizes a hundred calories of lettuce differently than it metabolizes a hundred calories of gorilla biscuit. “

  2. Here’s another factor that doesn’t fit into the calorie model: gut microbiome and genetics.

    Have you heard of the woman who gained weight after a fecal transplant from her overweight daughter despite not changing her diet and her lifestyle?


    ” Sixteen months later, with no changes to her diet or exercise levels, the the woman had gained 15 kg (34 pounds), and her BMI increased to 33. With those stats, she was now classified as ‘obese’. Even after embarking on a medically supervised liquid protein diet and exercise program, the weight kept piling on. Three years following the transplant, the woman had grown to 80 kg (177 pounds), with a BMI of 34.5, and she remains obese even now. ”


    Struggle to lose weight? Your gut bacteria may be to blame


    ” Another fascinating outcome from the research related to enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Examining differences between those successful and those unsuccessful in losing weight, the study measured the volume of genes that are known to encode gut microbial carbohydrate-active enzymes. It was found that those less able to lose weight displayed an increased capacity for carbohydrate metabolism. This essentially means some people can more effectively metabolize carbohydrates, and subsequently have more difficulty in losing weight though caloric restriction and increased physical activity. “

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