Saturday, September 19, 2009

More on the Bottom Line

The metabolism of fat people seems to run as fast or faster than those of lean people. This observation is repeatedly confirmed. So much for the "slow metabolism" theory. They burn faster. Seems hard to believe. I mean, fat insulates. They need to make less, not more body heat. But the energy they're burning need not be for heat. Maybe it's just expended in moving all those extra pounds around. Even so, it's counterintuitive. Again. Great.

If on average they expend more energy, they must eat more. But they don't. So let's see: they eat the same, they expend more energy, and they save more energy as fat? A conundrum. A thermodynamic paradox. But we've already looked at the idea that it's not a closed system. There's leakage. There's seepage as well. More energy is getting into the system than we think.

Here's my latest hypothesis. The answer is to be found in feces! So. Gram for gram, I propose that the stool of a fat person will burn cooler than that of a lean person. See? It's not that the obese are eating more. It's that they're absorbing more. The lean are wasting calories, by not getting them into the bloodsteam to begin with. If calories remain in the digestive tract only, then they would show up in the self-same crucible that determines the caloric value of food.

We know that not all calories need be absorbed, because stool can be oily under certain diets -- of very much oil. Don't ask me how I know. That oil would burn bright in the camp fire. I'm sure the data are known, but I don't know it. How much protein is to be found, in feces? How many carbs? How much fat? And comparatively, between the obese and lean? Or is digestion generally an entirely efficient process? We would hope so, but is it?

The presumption is that if a lean or a fat man eats, say 2500 calories a day, that's what will end up in their bloodstream. But there must be seepage. More is seeping in, for the obese. Must be, because they eat the same, expend more, and save more. Or, from a different perspective, the lean leak more. They absorb the same, but waste it as fidgeting or body heat or libido or thinking. Either way, the lean seem to be less efficient. Yet somehow that doesn't seem like a bad thing, given the alternative. But if there were a way to harness this supposed waste, toward athletic excellence -- wouldn't that be swell.

Heat, again. We measure basal metabolism by measuring how much oxygen is used. That tells us combustion, which tells us about calories. What it does not tell us about is how the energy was actually exploited. If there are the same amount of calories in the bloodstream -- excluding the confounding factor of digestive absorption -- and if the same oxidation rates are found in the fat and the lean, showing equal energy usage, then it's just a matter of how that energy is wasted, and more importantly, how it is used. It shouldn't be heat, calories, that we measure. There should be a unit of measurement for vitality.

As has been noted, the gut is a brain -- there are as many neurons associated with digestion as there are with the cranium. Further, there is only one nerve connecting the two -- the vagus nerve, the severing of which seems not to interfere with digestion. Hm. I propose, informally -- don't let this get back to my professional colleagues in the, uh, Digestive Sciences and Extraordinary Fitness Department at √úbermensch U -- that the gut itself has a homeostatic mechanism, whereby overall bodyfat is regulated. The gut knows where the gauge is set, and maintains that level by digesting and absorbing, or passing through calories, undigested.

It's an easy hypothesis to falsify, if not validate. Get to it. I'll review your data in the morning. I won't tell you how to collect your samples. Lord knows you're sick enough to save it already, wrapped up in baggies in the freezer, all labeled and weighed with notes as to the meal it used to be. You've got like three months there already, don't you. Man you are freaky weird. Get some help.


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