Updated food model predicts ‘calorie fate’ to avoid weight gain and disease

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The study asks how one makes sense of all the claims of certain dietary patterns in addition to the advertising jargon such as fresh, organic, gluten free, low fat, low carb, or sugar free.© iStock
The study asks how one makes sense of all the claims of certain dietary patterns in addition to the advertising jargon such as fresh, organic, gluten free, low fat, low carb, or sugar free.© iStock

Related tags Nutrition

A food model that factors in caloric load, nutrient breakdown and even how food is perceived may help those who accumulate fat and are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The model expands on previous work to now predict the impact of oxidation on both nutrient and fibre density in relation to caloric load.

When meal frequency, energy expenditure and macronutrient oxidation is factored in, the researchers believe the model provides undiscovered insights into how overeating takes a hold as well as the causes of fat build-up.

The review also attempts to explain the shift that populations in the developed world are experiencing with food.

Previous generations have regarded food and drink as a source of strength and nourishment.

However, the advent of high-protein diets, low-fat diets, low-carbohydrate diets, or combinations has shifted the emphasis towards diets that prioritise palatability or specific nutrition.

According to the team, the difficulty now is reaching a consensus as to how optimal nutrition is defined and what it is for the general population or for specific individuals.

The Food Triangle

balanced diet, food pyramid, healthy Crédits egal
The Food Triangle is just one example of a number of food models that attempt to quantify the fate of food, calories and nutrients once it enters the digestive system

The team, from the National Institutes of Health in the US, expand on a previous template known as the Food Triangle that was based on an increased energy density of the food.

In updating the model’s capabilities, the review now predicts the effects of oxidative priority, listing the outcomes of molecular components as they leave the digestive tract.

In addition, the model also comments on the chronically fed state of the individual and its relationship to dietary restriction (DR).

A body of studies suggest that DR, along with mild cold stress, and sleep all appear to have a related mechanistic role of increasing health and longevity and avoiding age-related diseases. An unrestricted calorie diet would, theoretically, counter this favourable metabolic effect.

Finally, the team also discuss its findings as to how exercise alters the respiratory quotient, a number used to calculate metabolic rate.

According to the researchers, these alterations play a major role in disrupting fat disposal that ordinarily, lead to a series of feeding events and subsequent weight gain.

Future predictions

“Our version of the Food Triangle predicts the oxidative priority of ingested foods and provides a conceptual paradigm for healthy eating supported by health and longevity research,”​ the study authors stated.

“Importantly, the thermodynamics of feeding are also influenced by the fed and fasted states, and exercise-induced shifts in RQ differentially affect nutrient disposal.”

The team also demonstrated the predictive capabilities of the model as the researchers warned of the consequences current patterns in food consumption would create if allowed to continue unabated.

“Atypical modern existence in the chronically fed/postprandial state, combined with oxidative priority and the abundance of inexpensive, calorie-dense foods, and an aversion to mild cold stress amalgamate to predicted weight gain for the majority of the developed world if current trends continue.”

Source: Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.

Published online ahead of print:  doi:10.1089/met.2016.0108.

“Oxidative Priority, Meal Frequency, and the Energy Economy of Food and Activity: Implications for Longevity, Obesity, and Cardiometabolic Disease.”

Authors: Cronise Raymond J., Sinclair David A., and Bremer Andrew A et al.

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