In my early days of spreading my crazy dieting protocol—we’re talking over twelve years ago now—I’d get bombarded with one question over and over, and it’s one people still sling my way: Do you need to eat fat to burn fat?
Eat fat to burn fat!
This, of course, makes no sense. Can you eat fat to burn fat? We are what we eat, so if we eat fat, we’ll get fat, not lean. It’s straight-up logic, right? Logic, however, only helps us find the next question to answer because, in the real world, human logic fails more times than it correctly predicts. Take Einstein, for instance. His seminal work, from General Relativity to pioneering discoveries in quantum mechanics, seems totally illogical, yet it’s how the world works.
If you think just a little bit harder—and I recommend this practice highly to the world of bodybuilding diet gurus—then stripping fat from the diet to burn fat is stupidity at its finest. The body is an adaptive organism that regulates hormone secretion and enzyme production based on the food you ingest. Ingest carbs all the time, and your body will build all the machinery necessary to burn carbs efficiently and store the leftover carbs just as effectively. Eat nothing but protein, and the body becomes efficient at breaking long protein chains into simpler fractions for energy—including muscle tissue. Eat mostly fat and, well…you figure it out.
As an example of “eat fat to burn fat”, let’s look at medium-chain triglyceride ingestion. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) reside in vast abundance in coconut fat, and are somewhat short chains of carbons (all fats are long carbon chains). The common mix is normally C8:0, C10:0, and C12:0. The ‘C’ represents carbon, the first number is the quantity of carbon atoms, and the second number is the amount of unsaturation. These little guys are pure saturated fat, but with a surprising property: most ingested fat takes three or more hours before the body can access it for fuel or storage. MCT absorbs quickly and is available immediately.
When the body can access fat immediately, it burns it. MCT oil ingestion triggers ketone production—which is not easy to do with diet alone. Ketones help fuel the cells of the nervous system—as well as other tissue in the body—when quick energy is needed from fat molecules. MCT also can represent the idea of a negative caloric load. In Obesity Research and in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, researchers demonstrated that by simply adding MCT oil to the diet, it increased fatty acid oxidation. Eating fat, they found, burns fat.
There’s more to this story, though. Many studies—especially ones quoted by governmental agencies—show that eating a diet high in fat, accompanied by a lot of carbohydrates, results in massive fat gain, not fat loss. It evidently takes more than just eating fat to burn fat. It also requires avoiding carbs.