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Bulletin #5 – Energetics and Thermogenesis

Last month we talked aboutmetabolic rate—the body’s rate ofenergy expenditure.  Most people arevery aware of their caloric consumption,but many still ignore the expenditureside of the energy balance equation.That’s a shame, since it is energybalance, not just energy consumption,which determines whether you’ll gain orlose weight.  As it turns out, you canexert a considerable amount of controlover your metabolic rate by followingcertain eating habits.  Our NutritionProgram is based on using nutrition tocontrol your metabolism.  It is possibleto eat more than before and get leanerand more muscular as a result.  We teachyou how to control your metabolism, soyou can target your calories to muscleand train your body to burn fat insteadof storing it.Gain and loss of body weight aregoverned by a simple thermodynamicprinciple: the conservation of mass andenergy.  

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If more or less calories areconsumed than expended then weight isgained or lost, respectively.  Althoughthis statement is correct, its simplicity isdeceiving (1).  The human body is verycomplex, and here’s where someknowledge about metabolism comes inhandy.  Different foods are metabolizeddifferently and are converted into bodyweight with different efficiencies (2).This is described by the term “foodefficiency,” which is defined as thecalories consumed of a particular fooddivided by the resulting weight gain (3).You may not have realized it, but agiven number of calories from one foodmay have a very different effect on yourbody weight than the same number ofcalories from a different food (2).  Thisis easy to prove.  Just pull out 1000calories of potatoes and rice from yourdiet and replace it with 1000 calories ofcandy and ice cream, and see whathappens.So you must not only consider thenet energy balance (calories consumedversus calories expended) but also thetype of calories consumed.  If we werethrowing foods into a bonfire theywould all burn about the same.  How-ever, human metabolism is morecomplex than a bonfire.  To the humanbody, not all calories are the same.

Different foods are digested at differentrates and with different efficiencies.And different nutrients perform differentfunctions within the body.  Generallyspeaking, calories coming from proteinare used for maintenance, repair, andgrowth of tissues and organs; caloriesfrom carbohydrates are used for energy;and calories from conventional fat arevery prone to be stored as body fat.Simply put, the net energy balancedetermines whether you will gain or loseweight, but what kind of foods you eatwill determine if it’s muscle or fat.The food that you eat can experi-ence three general metabolic fates.  Itcan be burned to liberate energy, it canbe converted into body weight, or it canbe excreted.  All foods release heatwhen they are burned.  Not all foods areburned completely to produce energyhowever; some of them are only par-tially degraded to provide buildingblocks to support repair and growth ofyour tissues.  The heat liberated from aparticular food is thus a measure notonly of its energy content but also of itstendency to be burned.  This is knownas the “thermic effect “of  food (TEF),or the “thermogenic effect” (1).  In-creased thermogenesis means increasedheat production, and this correlates withincreased oxygen consumption andmetabolic rate (4).  Food efficiency issimply a measure of how efficiently aparticular food is converted into bodyweight.

Foods with a high food effi-ciency are more prone to be convertedto body weight while foods with a lowfood efficiency are more prone to beburned for energy.CapTri® has a very low foodefficiency due to the thermogenic effect.This means that it is burned for energyinstead of being converted into body fat.CapTri® is rapidly absorbed andmetabolized to release energy (5).  As we’ve discussed previously, some of thisenergy is converted into ketone bodieswhich are transported to the muscles tobe used as fuel to power muscularcontractions (5).  Some of the energyreleased when CapTri® is burned  issimply converted to body heat in theprocess of thermogenesis (2,6,7).Think of it this way: CapTri® isburned very efficiently, so it is storedvery inefficiently.If you’ve read the previousbulletins, you now understand the basicsof what CapTri® is, how it works, andwhy it’s so different from other fats.Now we can  get into more detail aboutsome of its more interesting propertiesand the ways bodybuilders use it.It should come as no surprise toyou that CapTri® has a lower foodefficiency than regular fat (2).  Thismeans that regular fat will contributemore to body weight gain than anequivalent number of calories fromCapTri®.  (Unfortunately, most of theweight you gain from regular fat will befat, not muscle.)  The main reason forthis is that CapTri® is burned forenergy, and a significant portion of thisenergy is released as body heat (2,6,7).While regular fat can also be burned forenergy, it has more of a tendency simplyto be stored away as body fat, since italready has the same molecular structureas body fat.  

Regular fats (LCTs) are notburned much as long as carbohydratesare available, since the carnitine shuttleis not activated until carbohydrate fuelshave been depleted.  You can think ofthe carnitine shuttle as a switch whichturns on fat burning after the carbs haverun out.But what may come as a biggersurprise is that CapTri® also has alower food efficiency than carbohydrate(3,8).  This means that CapTri® isburned even more efficiently than carbs!These experiments were performed onrats, since at the end of the experimentyou can dissect the rat and accuratelydetermine its body composition.  Gener-ally, the rats are fed a caloric excess sothey will gain weight during the trial.The rats are divided into three groups: alow-fat group, a LCT group, and a MCTgroup.  Grams of protein were heldconstant among groups, and the remain-der of calories are supplied as carbs,conventional fat, or MCT.  Of course, the rats fed conven-tional fats (LCTs) gained the mostweight—because they gained more fat(3,8).  Lean body mass was essentiallythe same in all groups at the end of theexperiment.  Of the three groups, therats fed MCT were by far the leanest.They gained about 60% less fat thaneither the LCT or low-fat groups (3).(I’m sure the results could have beeneven better, but rats don’t exercisemuch.)  

This means that CapTri® ismore difficult for your body to convertinto fat than carbohydrates are.  Dobodybuilders take advantage of this?You bet they do.When you’re gaining weight in theoff season, you can add CapTri® toyour food to provide extra calories.  Andthose extra calories are less prone to bestored as fat than if you used conven-tional fats or carbohydrates to supply theextra calories.  Before a contest you candecrease your carbohydrate intake andmake up the difference with CapTri®.This lets you use the low-carb strategyto lose fat, but the calories fromCapTri®provide a source of energy inplace of the carbs so you don’t feel likeCapTri®trated source of calories which can beused to support weight gain, and the lowof calories when you’re dieting.  That’swhy most of our bodybuilders use itKeep in mind, CapTri is not adrug, and there’s nothing magic goingCapTri®provides calories, like any other food.The point is that different types of foodsand are therefore processed differentlyby the body.  Different foods have


1.  Van Zant, Influence of diet andreview. Int. J. Sports Nutr. 2: 1-19(1992).hanced thermogenesis and diminisheddeposition of fat in response to over-chain triglyceride. Am. J. Clin. Nutr.35:678-682 (1982).Girard, and Peret, Metabolic effectsinduced by long term feeding of mediumlism 36: 807-814 (1987).

4.  Guyton, Textbook of MedicalSaunders, chapter 71 (1976).

5.  Bach and Babayan, Medium chainNutr. 36: 950-962 (1982).

6.  Hill, Peters, Yang, Sharp, Kaler,in humans during overfeeding withmedium chain triglycerides.  Metabo-

7.  Seaton, Welle, Warenko, andCampbell, Thermic effect of mediumman.  Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 44: 630-634(1986).chain triglyceride on lipogenesis andbody fat in the rat.  J. Nutr. 108: 613-

2018-03-13T11:10:39-04:00 May 7th, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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