Dr. Ben Bikman podcast episode March 18, 2019. Energy and Mass


Body fat loss / metabolism and heat. @carl @richard

Just want to be clear on the Conservation of Mass.

When a person loses body fat the carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms change from fat molecules to carbon dioxide and water*. At least according to science communicator Ruben Meerman.

The fat molecules do not turn into heat, per se. Their complex bonds cleave to create the energy, but the atoms just become part of smaller molecules.

The uncoupled (corrected from ‘decoupled’) mitochondria can still work to generate more cellular ATP energy and generate more carbon dioxide and water to be excreted.

*But I reckon ketone molecules with their higher molecular weight, than carbon dioxide and water, being spilled out of the body as acetone (breath) and via ketones in the urine would be part of the metabolic advantage in nutritional ketosis for weight loss in type 2 diabetes treatment.

In the discussion it sounded like, to me anyway, the ketones were being burned for heat energy, which could be misinterpreted literally as fat turning into heat.

Where there’s fire, one should also consider the smoke.

(Dawn O Miller) #2

I really enjoyed this podcast, Dr. Ben Bikman makes for an amazing interview whichever podcasts he goes to.

My question is, since this latest episode was trying to reconcile the CICO w/ the Hormonal Model,
when Dr. Bikman was looking into this research, was he purely looking at resting metabolic rate? Does exercise factor in this, since a big factor of CICO is eat less and exercise more.

(Richard Morris) #3

The mechanism is as you break fuel into CO2 and H20 you use the energy of breaking those covalent bonds to push protons into the inter-membrane space of the mitochondria and those returning back into the matrix (to equilibrate the charges) drive a turbine that makes ATP from ADP+Phosphor - making chemical energy that the cell can use to make work.

The de-coupling is that there is a protein on the inner membrane that leaks protons back into the matrix without driving the turbine … resulting in heat being generated.

So when a fat cell is signaled by ketones it turns more fuel into heat instead of chemical energy the cell uses to do work.

Yes that was Ben’s first presentation 3 years ago in Breckenridge

(Bunny) #4

When using the term decoupled or “de-coupling” do you mean uncoupling was just curious about this for future reference?

Thermogenin (called uncoupling protein by its discoverers and now known as uncoupling protein 1, or UCP1 )[5] is an uncoupling protein found in the mitochondria of brown adipose tissue (BAT). It is used to generate heat by non-shivering thermogenesis, and makes a quantitatively important contribution to countering heat loss in babies which would otherwise occur due to their high surface area-volume ratio. …More


Good question, It’s hard to find any use of the word decoupled in the context of mitochondria and looking at it grammatically does not help.

(Bunny) #6

Prolly just forum slang…lol

(Bunny) #7

This is fascinating stuff:

Role of uncoupling proteins UCP1, UCP2 and UCP3 in energy balance, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Synergism with the thyroid


Accumulation of fat in the tissues results from the balance between energy intake and expenditure. The thyroid hormones have long been known to be the main regulators of basal metabolism through its stimulation of oxygen consumption in cells.

The discovery of brown adipose tissue (BAT) and its unique activity of heat production and dissipation through the action of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) during cold stress, showed the relevance of this tissue for energy expenditure in lower mammals. UCP1 is only expressed in BAT through the synergistic action of norepinephrine (NE) and thyroid hormones in animals exposed to cold and to a lesser degree after meals.

The uncoupling protein-2 (UCP2) is found in many tissues and exerts dual effects: it protects cells function from damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). On the other hand, the uncoupling induced by UCP2 in mitochondria of pancreatic beta cells decreases ATP synthesis and impairs insulin secretion in response to glucose. Hyperlipidemia also prevents insulin secretion through a similar pathway, leading to hyperglycemia.

The uncoupling protein-3 is found mostly in skeletal muscle and BAT and its absence did not alter heat production or body temperature. This protein would export fatty acids outside the mitochondrial matrix for combustion in tissues where fat is the main fuel. In humans, the uncoupling proteins may not play a leading role in energy regulation.

However, intensive studies on these and other factors influencing energy expenditure, appetite and glucose metabolism are taken place worldwide and may soon provide more clues on the mechanisms regulating energy balance and their use in the prevention or treatment of human obesity and diabetes type 2. …More


[1] Human neuronal uncoupling proteins 4 and 5 (UCP4 and UCP5): structural properties, regulation, and physiological role in protection against oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction

[2] Mitochondrial uncoupling proteins and energy metabolism: “…Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is not perfectly coupled to ATP synthesis, and the process of proton-leak plays a crucial role. Proton-leak accounts for a significant part of the resting metabolic rate (RMR) and therefore enhancement of this process represents a potential target for obesity treatment. Since their discovery, uncoupling proteins have stimulated great interest due to their involvement in mitochondrial-inducible proton-leak. Despite the widely accepted uncoupling/thermogenic effect of uncoupling protein one (UCP1), which was the first in this family to be discovered, the reactions catalyzed by its homolog UCP3 and the physiological role remain under debate. …” …More

[3] Advanced glycoxidation and lipoxidation end products (AGEs and ALEs): an overview of their mechanisms of formation: Advanced lipoxidation end products (ALEs) and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)


Uncoupled. I think decoupled comes from unlinking train carriages?

(Bunny) #9

I often wonder why Oprah can’t lose weight when she consults Dr. Oz?

Maybe the unlinking of train carriages is not such a good exercise or idea???

(Doug) #10

One thing I disagree with from the article is this: “The correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat.”

The vast majority of water produced by cellular respiration/metabolism is exhaled along with the carbon dioxide. We’re usually exhaling 300-500 ml of water per day, perhaps more for really big people or those who exercise a lot.

Agreed that fat doesn’t “go to heat” that simply. There are some intermediate steps, at the least. Once we get down to oxidizing carbon and hydrogen atoms - this is always going to be exothermic and release heat.

Perhaps I’m viewing it in an over-simplified way, but it doesn’t seem right to me to say cleave/split/break chemical bonds to create energy. Breaking chemical bonds requires energy - some energy is consumed. It’s when we form chemical bonds, as with combusting those carbons and hydrogens, that energy is produced.


Ive never yet seen a “physics” explanation of how we create heat. You either make atoms move by adding heat or else you make things warm by moving them (shiver) What percent of what happens in the body I don’t know or if I did know I forgot.

Just HOW does the brain and liver generate heat?


This article gets a little closer to the issue . . .


Ref: http://www.insuliniq.com/dr-bikman-addresses-worlds-foremost-lchf-authorities-at-breckenridge-2017-conference/

(Bunny) #13

Fat mass, leptin and a properly functioning thyroid determines how fast we lose weight consistently?


Here are some thoughts on chemical reactions and electrically induced (UCP-1) cold thermogenesis CT?

I always ponder at how in the heck fish survive in such cold water and generate pretty lights (self illuminating in red, blue, green) or how fire flies generate light and say to myself “…how are they doing that, why can’t I do that? “…Well because your not a fire fly or a fish (or a certain species of marine life) stupid? …” But we can (ADP/ATP), we might not glow in the dark, but we process the mechanisms to generate electrical currents to survive cold climates.

You could eat food and generate a thermogenin effect or you could some how cold shock (hormesis) the body like dunking your face and crown of head directly into ice water intermittently; taking bitter melon extract and DHA Omega-3’s you get from extra virgin fish oils prior to the dunking to activate your brown adipose tissue BAT which then uses white adipose fat tissue WAT as fuel to burn and leaves residual browning on the WAT it is trying to burn, if you have low body fat your going to deplete your glycogen stores more rapidly than somebody who has high body fat doing this type of CT, although women take longer to cold adapt, so you want to have your omega-3s higher than your omega-6’s 10:1 and be in ketosis because your going to be burning up glycogen stores in skeletal muscle tissue!

Then slowly and gradually start introducing more of the bodies skin surface to colder conditions adapting and evolving etc…


Just a few thoughts…

(Richard Morris) #14

Most heat generated is from exothermic chemical reactions, ones which release heat.

In the case of mitochondrial uncoupling it’s combining a positively charged hydrogen atom (H+ or naked protons) with a negatively charged hydroxide (OH-) producing water and heat.

Normally when we oxidize fuel we ultimately split water into OH- (hydroxide) and H+ (protons), we deposit the protons on the space between the inner and outer mitochondrial layers building a chemical and electrical gradient between the intermembrane space and the matrix.

That gradient is used to drive a turbine in a protein called ATP Synthase which uses that mechanical energy to squeeze ADP molecules next to phosphate molecules, making them join together to make ATP. And the proton coming back into the matrix will find a hydroxide and release a little heat in the process.

Later your body will pull that phosphate off the ADP and use the energy released to do some work. Remarkably the energy went from chemical energy in fuel, to electrical energy, to mechanical energy, and back to a newer form of chemical energy - which we can turn into mechanical energy in our muscles, or if we’re electric eels we can turn it into electrical energy, or if we are lightening bugs we can make our butts light up by chemcialy activating the enzyme luciferase.

The uncoupling proteins (UCP1,2 and 3) let protons leak back into the mitochondria without running through the turbine so, they come through rapidly, and without making ATP - they generate a lot more heat when they find a hydroxide and turn into water simply because there are more of them.

(Omar) #15


when you exhale at cold surface you can make quite few droplets of water.

I think we evaporate water from the skin even if we are not feeling the sweating

what I understood from the video is that

total mass in = total mass out ( conservation of mass ) but people were ignoring the exhaled mass.

also total energy in = total energy out (first law )
but here the role of the organization and order of molecules ( entropy ) should be included as the state of energy of the exhaled air is quite un-organized and empty of order.


I’m listening to the podcast again after this forum feedback discussion.

It is so much better! I understand the information with greater clarity.

I agree with @carl that the generation of heat in the uncoupled mitochondria of brown and beige fat is an adaptive metabolic goal. It has its function in the human organism surviving. The terms ‘wasting energy’ and body being ‘wasteful’, and ‘futile’ cycles, may not be accurate? It has persisted in the energy balance complexity of humans, so may have its place in rare times of hypercaloric abundance in the past. It does now allow the metabolic advantage in the contemporary hypercaloric environment. Using an existing tool in a different way?

I may have picked up the term ‘decoupled’ from Carl’s questions. Nah, it is a word in the lexicon with similar sounds just misused by me.

I think relistening to expert interviews after parsing one’s thoughts through a forum discussion is a great way to get value added benefits from the podcast :slight_smile:


I got a better understanding of what coupled vs uncoupled is about by watching this Benjamin Bikman video starting at about 11:00 . . .



The whole lecture is very good.