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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 07, 2015

7 Common Calorie Myths We Should All Stop Believing

By Mark Sisson
190 Comments

Uncover The FactsMany people think weight loss is simply about cutting calories. They believe that to lose weight, you must reduce calories (either eat less or burn more), to gain weight you must add calories, and to maintain weight you keep calories constant. To these folks, calories in, calories out is the only thing that matters. They usually oppose the Primal Blueprint because they assume that we “deny” the importance of calories in weight loss.

Well, they’re wrong. I don’t deny the importance of calories. Calories absolutely count. And if someone has lost weight, they have necessarily expended more calories than they consumed. That said, there are some major misconceptions about calories, body weight, fat loss, and health. These calorie myths are often rooted in truth but presented in black-or-white terms that are useless at best, harmful at worst, and do little to help the average person lose body fat.

Let’s dig right in.

Calories in, calories out is all you need to know.

Simple is nice. Simple is good. But overly simple is dangerously inaccurate, so let’s break this statement down.

What does “calories in” refer to?

Calories in — what we eat. We can’t metabolize sunlight or oxygen. We can’t feast on the souls of the damned. The food we eat determines “calories in” entirely. Simple.

“Calories out” is where it gets confusing. There are several components to “calories out”:

  1. Resting energy expenditure — the energy used to handle basic, day-to-day physiological functions and maintenance
  2. Thermic effect of food — the energy used to digest food and process nutrients
  3. Active energy expenditure — the energy used during movement (both deliberate activity like lifting weights, jogging, and walking, plus spontaneous activity like shivering and fidgeting)

Not so simple, is it? There are a lot more variables to consider.

Oh, and about those variables…

Calories in and calories out are independent variables.

That would be nice. You could drop energy intake and maintain your resting metabolic rate while burning the same amount of energy digesting food (even though you’re eating less of it) and working out. The fat would melt off at a predictable, constant rate. Anyone with basic arithmetic skills (or a calculator) could become a successful weight loss coach and very few people would be overweight.

In reality, the amount and type of calories we eat affect the amount of energy we expend:

  • During calorie restriction, the body “defends” its body weight by lowering resting metabolic rate and reducing spontaneous physical activity. To keep weight loss going, you often have to lower food intake even more (to counteract the reduced metabolic rate) and remind yourself to fidget, tap your feet, twiddle your thumbs, and shiver (to recreate the missing spontaneous movement). And you have to do it again when the body readjusts.
  • Whole foods take more energy to process and digest than processed foods. In one example, subjects either ate a “whole food” sandwich (multigrain bread with cheddar cheese) or a “processed food” sandwich (white bread with cheese product). Both meals were isocaloric (same number of calories) and featured roughly identical macronutrient (protein, fat, carb) ratios. Those eating the multigrain sandwiches expended 137 calories postprandially (after their meal). The white bread group expended only 73 calories, a 50% reduction in the thermic effect of food.
  • Protein takes more energy to process and digest than other macronutrients. Compared to a low-fat, high-carb diet, a high-protein diet increased postprandial energy expenditure by 100% in healthy young women. And in both obese and lean adults, eating a high-protein meal was far more energetically costly (by almost 3-fold) than eating a high-fat meal.

Calories in affects calories out. The two variables are anything but independent of each other.

Weight gain is caused by eating more calories than you expend.

Calorie fetishists love pointing out that weight gain requires overeating. That is, everyone who gains weight necessarily ate more calories than they expended. Okay. We’ve established that everyone agrees on this. But it’s just restating the issue. It doesn’t tell us anything new or useful. It’s merely descriptive, not explanatory.

To show you what I mean, let’s do the same thing with other phenomena.

Why was Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated? Because someone pointed a sniper rifle at him and fired it.

Why did Usain Bolt win the 100 m final in the Beijing Olympics? Because he crossed the finish line first.

Why is the restaurant so crowded? Because more people entered than left.

These are technically true, but they ignore the ultimate causes. In King’s case, they fail to discuss racism, the civil rights movement, or the motivation of the shooter. They don’t mention Bolt’s training, genetics, or his childhood. They don’t discuss why the restaurant has attracted so many customers — new menu, Valentine’s Day, graduation? They simply restate the original statement using different words. They just describe what happened.

I’m interested in what truly causes us to eat more than we expend and/or expend less than we eat. I don’t care to merely describe weight gain because that doesn’t help anyone.

A calorie is a calorie.

Look. I loved Carl Sagan. Like everyone else, I got chills when he’d wax poetic about our place in the universe and our shared origins as “star-stuff.” But just because steak comes from the same star-stuff as a baked potato, isocaloric amounts of each do not have identical metabolic fates in our bodies when consumed.

We even have a study that examined this. For two weeks, participants either supplemented their diets with isocaloric amounts of candy (mostly sugar) or roasted peanuts (mostly fat and protein). This was added to their regular diet. After two weeks, researchers found that body weight, waist circumference, LDL, and ApoB (a rough measure of LDL particle number) were highest in the candy group, indicating increased fat mass and worsening metabolic health. In the peanut group, basal metabolic rate shot up and neither body weight nor waist size saw any significant increases.

Does this invalidate the relevance of energy balance? Of course not. Since the peanut group’s metabolic rate increased, they expended more calories in response to added calories, thus remaining in balance. But it does elegantly and definitively invalidate the simplistic notion that all calories, especially added calories, are treated equally by the body.

Weight loss and fat loss are the same thing.

People don’t want to lose weight. “Losing weight” is common parlance, but we really want to lose body fat and retain, or gain, muscle. And studies indicate that the macronutrient composition can differentially affect whether the weight lost is fat. It’s not just about total calories.

Take the 2004 study from Volek that placed overweight men and women on one of two diets: a very low-carb ketogenic diet or a low-fat diet. The low-carb group ate more calories but lost more weight and more body fat, especially dangerous abdominal fat.

Or the study from 1989 that placed healthy adult men on high-carb or high-fat diets. Even though the high-carb group lost slightly more body weight, the high-fat group lost slightly more body fat and retained more lean mass.

Just “weight” doesn’t tell us much. What kind of weight? Are we losing/gaining fat or muscle, bone, sinew, organ? Are we increasing the robustness of our colons and the number of bacterial residents (who, though small, carry weight and occupy space) from added prebiotic fiber intake? These factors matter for health. I’d argue that they’re the only factors that actually matter when losing or gaining weight because they offer insight into our health and body composition.

Exercise helps you lose weight only by burning calories.

Most people think of exercise as a way to mechanically combust calories. And that’s true, to a point. Exercise does “burn” calories, and this is a factor in weight loss. But it does lots of other cool things to our physiology that can assist with improving body composition, too.

Compared to something high intensity like burpees or something aerobic like running a 10k, lifting free weights doesn’t burn many calories when you’re lifting them. But it does improve insulin sensitivity, which reduces the amount of insulin we secrete for a given amount of carbohydrate and increases our ability to burn body fat. It increases muscle mass, which uses calories (protein). It strengthens connective tissue, which also uses calories. It even preserves metabolic rate during weight loss and boosts it for up to 72 hours post-workout. All these changes affect the fate of the calories we ingest.

If calories burnt were the most important factor, then the best way to lose weight would be to hammer it out with as much endurance exercise as you can withstand because that’s the most calorie intensive. But studies show that combination training — aerobic and resistance training — leads to greater reductions in body fat than either modality alone.

Even aerobic exercise isn’t just about mechanically burning calories. It also preferentially targets the reward regions of our brains, reducing the allure and spontaneously lowering our intake of junk food.

Counting calories allows us to accurately monitor food intake.

You’d think that, wouldn’t you? Most foods at the grocery store have labels. Even restaurants are beginning to emblazon menus with calorie counts for each item. As humans, we implicitly trust the printed word. It looks so official and authoritative, and it spells out with great specificity exactly how many calories we’re about to eat.

Except studies show that’s not the case. Whether it’s the nutritional information provided by restaurants, the calorie counts on supposedly “low-calorie” foods, or the nutritional labels on packaged foods, calorie counts are rarely accurate. Food manufacturers can even underreport calories by 20% and pass inspection by the FDA.

Maybe that’s why people have so much trouble sticking to their allotted number of calories. If only reality would bend to the will of the label!

You may roll your eyes at some of these ideas because they’re so preposterous, but consider where you’re coming from, where you’re reading this. This is how the general public – and, often, the experts and physicians advising their patients and writing policy — approaches the question of fat loss. Sure, not everyone immersed in conventional wisdom holds every one of these myths to be true. And when they’re actually faced with the statement, few will claim that a calorie of steak is metabolically identical to a calorie of white sugar or that weight loss is the same as fat loss. But when calories in, calories out is the first line of attack against excess body fat, these are the kind of myths that become entrenched.

It’s important to take them head-on.

No one wants to be fat. The obese know they’re obese. They’ve had “calories in, calories out” drummed into their heads for years. If it were really as simple as eating less and moving more, they wouldn’t be obese. And yet here we are. That might be the biggest danger of the continued propagation of these myths — they convince people that they’ve failed at something simple, basic, and central to being a healthy, moral human being.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and be sure to let me know what you think of these calorie myths in the comment section. And check back soon. I’ve got more calorie myths on the way.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

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190 Comments on "7 Common Calorie Myths We Should All Stop Believing"

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Groktimus Primal
1 year 8 months ago

Not only do the calories and macro nutrients effect it but the times at which you eat it. I tend to eat one large meal per day. It keeps me pretty well satisfied and let’s my body return to a fasting state as soon as possible.

jenny
jenny
1 year 8 months ago

Hi Groktimus – I am looking to transition to one large meal a day too – how did you determine how big your one meal should be? Is it just experimentation – i.e. eat a fairly large meal and see how long it lasts? Do you time it so you don’t get hungry at inopportune times (i.e. middle of the night?) I’ve always been squarely in the 3 meals plus snacks camp but have been reading more about the great effects of fasting – but the whole concept of ‘how to’ is a little new to me.

Groktimus Primal
1 year 8 months ago

I’ve been doing this for years. I eat until I’m good and satisfied. When I eat it depends mainly on life circumstances. I keep it fairly low carb and I don’t usually get too hungry. Not eating stimulates my appetite less than eating does. For me food is an addiction (mainly carb addiction) so the fewer times I take the tiger out of the cage the better I do since complete food abstinence is impossible.

Tom
1 year 8 months ago

This is interesting. This must have a huge impact on your metabolism? No headaches, constipation or depression troubles?

Groktimus Primal
1 year 8 months ago
I’ve always had a lot of headaches but that was even when I was a kid and eating “normally”. As I’ve gotten older I do deal with occasional constipation too but overall I feel better when fasting. I think the 3 meals a day thing might be another food industry invention. It is also necessary if you live as a sugar burner. I think if a lot of people tried it they would actually like it. If I could eat anything I wanted, whenever and not gain weight it would be different but I enjoy the time saving and simplicity.… Read more »
jenny
jenny
1 year 8 months ago

Thank you Groktimus! Appreciate the advice.

Dr. John Fitzgerald
1 year 8 months ago

I have had several athletes move to 1 meal per day when they are cutting weight for the UFC. Usually the meal will start off with a superfood smoothie and then will be followed with some type of meat. Grass fed beef, fatty fish etc. As they get deeper into the weight cut, they may move to leaner cuts of meat and white fish.

The point I am making, is that high level athletes can use one meal per day and still be successful.

Shary
Shary
1 year 8 months ago
One meal a day doesn’t work for everyone, particularly if you do it cold-turkey. Try for two meals minus snacks. If you increase your fat and protein intake slightly and keep grains and sweets to an absolute minimum, you should pretty well lose the desire to snack. Snacking definitely stimulates the appetite, whereas giving the body a daily break by eating less frequently seems to be more healthful. I usually eat a fairly high-protein breakfast/brunch around 11 am, and then dinner around 6 pm. I don’t eat anything after dinner and seldom eat anything between meals unless it’s a small… Read more »
jenny
jenny
1 year 8 months ago

Thanks Shary – appreciate the advice – yes I was going to transition slowly into it. When I eat primally I don’t get the sugar crashes and ‘Hangry’ feelings that I used to, and have been reading more about the benefits of IF so wanted to give it a go.

cis
cis
1 year 8 months ago
I recently transitioned from 3 to 2 meals while on holiday at all inclusive resort. I ate as much as I felt like at breakfast (8am) and dinner (6:30pm) – I literally ate as much as I could, but focused on “decent” food (protein, veggies, some fruit). Guacamole and salsa at each meal (yes even breakfast!). I didn’t skimp on food: I had two full, overbrimming plates at dinner (many fat Americans were ogling my plate) with fish, chicken, roastbeef, lots of veggies and I also slept 8 hours every night. I am an under 9st female and lost 5… Read more »
Jon
Jon
1 year 8 months ago

Hello 🙂 I am a male so I don’t know this from personal experience; a female friend of mine told me this – Taking an iron supplement (and maybe Vit C too) at that time of the month helped her a lot. She suspected that the food cravings were being induced by low energy due to lower iron level from blood loss. Might be worth a try…..

Good luck

Michele
1 year 8 months ago

I love the “cause” analogy, that could not be more true. Calories do matter to some degree of course, but people often don’t understand what that really looks like both in the body and from a real food perspective. Also reminds me of a training plan (I was just doing one!) where you don’t start with the number of miles you want to hit per week, but focus on quality workouts to grow fitness organically, and the mileage total will most likely be on target with the result in mind.

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
1 year 8 months ago

I guess some “authority” somewhere decided we didn’t need to worry our pretty little heads over the details…sheesh! These same authorities (or their successors) have no idea how the internet works either.

Jeff
Jeff
1 year 8 months ago

This is a great article, wouldn’t it be nice to see an article like this show up on Yahoo news and really reach the masses!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
1 year 8 months ago

Well there’s one line I guess I shouldn’t repeat around here again, even if it seems to be applicable enough for me.
Usually I don’t get too swamped with fine scientific details and as a result could say some inaccurate things. Life’s short and I’m not a speed reader with a brainiac’s memory capacity.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
1 year 8 months ago
Also, I’ve never counted calories, except roughly once in a while for say a meal or snack, basically out of curiosity and boredom. When I think calories in calories out I don’t take it too literally. I think of it more like Mark’s advice to find out how much to feed a dog: if it’s getting skinny, feed it more, and if it’s gaining fat, feed it less. For humans, less would mean less “calorie” macronutrients first of all: fat and carbs. I think it’s difficult to overeat whole food protein. And you can always stuff yourself with leafy greens… Read more »
Doug K
1 year 8 months ago

excellent, thank you for all the links and studies.
as a physics student I like to think a calorie is just a calorie, but it is of course way more complicated than that.. unless you simply assume a spherical physicist..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_cow

PhilmontScott
PhilmontScott
1 year 8 months ago

Assuming that a calorie is a calorie is how you GET Spherical Physicists!

Tom S
Tom S
1 year 8 months ago

To put it in a scientific way, 0.75 gallons of gasoline is about 2,000 dietary calories (kcal,)

By the crazy logic of “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie,” then should the USRDA of gasoline be about a cup?

(I just want to add that petroleum is poisonous. Don’t drink it. I’m just pointing out the really really stupid idea of calories being calories.)

David Boyce
David Boyce
1 year 8 months ago

By the calories out vs. calories in line of reasoning, I should be morbidly obese. Instead I’m barely above the official BMI for normal weight. Beyond the known differences in resting metabolic rate, is it possible some of the calories consumed are not metabolized, passing through the gut underutilized in much the same way fuel passes through a combustion engine unburned. I’ve never seen a study addressing this possibility.

thanks

John Caton
1 year 8 months ago

Some theories assert that in cold adapted ketosis, excess ingested fats are converted to heat rather than stored as fat.

Paleo-curious
1 year 8 months ago

I know you’re right about the “passing through” part– before my Celiac Disease was diagnosed I think I had to eat half again as much as most people my size to keep from wasting away, & even so I was anemic & short on many other nutrients.

It actually took a little while after going GF for me to realize that I didn’t have to eat so much when my digestive system was working properly!

Harry Mossman
1 year 8 months ago

“The food we eat determines ‘calories in’ entirely. Simple.”

Right. The calories in-calories out folks love the analogy of the car. Gas in/energy out. Even this simple minded example is wrong. Millions of cars with their gas caps on loosely, engines out of tune and wasting gas out the tail pipe. Etc. Same with food energy. Resistant starches. Your body can’t use them very much as food but the critters in your gut can. Many more examples.

Vince G
Vince G
1 year 8 months ago

I use this example often in my experiences training and advising clients. Only with the added analogy of the type of gas. You can go to the crappy old station outside of town with watered down and/or low-quality gas and pay less. Or you can get good, clean gas and pay a but more. But your engine will certainly know the difference when your valves take a beating!

eatinmyselftothin
1 year 8 months ago
Great article, one I will be sharing both on my blog and personal fb page. I love that my cardiologist who has seen me lose about 150 pounds since he became my doctor, asks – so you are still counting calories, right? Because I broke a plateau (after losing about 88 pounds with the moderate carb program I use), and then began losing again by setting a daily calorie limit (over 120 since I began doing so). I laugh and say “yes, but you wouldn’t like what it is I’m eating.” I simply have used it for portion control. I… Read more »
Beth
Beth
1 year 8 months ago

Congratulations! And thank you for the reminder that for many of us, we really really need to be mindful of the quality and type of calories we’re consuming. I find myself always making excuses for eating lower quality food and I needed this reminder.

Paula
1 year 8 months ago

Soooo… Souls are calorie-free?

????

Wildrose
Wildrose
1 year 8 months ago

They are?!? Sweet!

Jon
Jon
1 year 8 months ago

Weeell, technically, souls are low-calorie. But thanks to political pressure on FDA regulations, the manufacturers of edible souls can report zero calories. Diet souls, however, are completely devoid of everything that is good and right with the world.

Kelda
Kelda
1 year 8 months ago

🙂 that made my day, I’m smiling, not done that in a long while! Thanks

nate
nate
1 year 8 months ago

Excellent! I’ll be sharing this article for sure!

Trent
1 year 8 months ago

Excellent content and well written. I’ve run three marathon, which involved 30-40 miles per week of running. After each one, I’ve had to stop running for a short period so I could lose weight. Most people assume I’m kidding when I say this, but it’s true.

I’m now a bit wiser and incorporate a lot more weight training and a lot less processed carbohydrates. Thanks Mark for your positive influence on my health and appearance.

John Caton
1 year 8 months ago

For 30 years I counted calories in. I had to run to get some back out. When I couldn’t run I had to starve a little. It was 5 pounds lost, 10 gained, maybe 12 more lost but then gain 7. For years.

Then I went Primal and quit counting. Never hungry. Lost about 25 pounds and it’s staying off with no hunger, no effort and no chronic exercise.

Deb
Deb
1 year 8 months ago
Great information! Makes so much sense. Thank you for providing. Under my own power several years ago I lost 157 lbs thru diet and exercise. I truly believe exercise is important for your health and helps somewhat with burning calories, BUT avoiding things like sugar is the real key to satisfactory and long term fat loss, as is weight lifting. I’m in the process of going Primal and have therefore been devouring everything I can find. I’m enjoying your emails and website. AND I need to say how much I appreciate the ‘written word’ instead of videos for everything you… Read more »
Mark
Mark
1 year 8 months ago

DEB
“written word” Right on!!!
I have gotten to the point that I dropped some people I follow because more than half of what they put out is video. Knowing them, I am sure the stuff I am missing is valuable, but the aggravation is not worth it.

Leaf Eating Carnivore
Leaf Eating Carnivore
1 year 8 months ago

Ditto.

cindy
cindy
1 year 8 months ago

I totally agree.

DavidM
DavidM
1 year 8 months ago

The calories in calories out crap also fails to account for substrate usage. Yes that steak would produce 800Kcal in a BOM caloriemeter…but your body does not work like that. You dont convert EVERYTHING to energy immediately…the body uses some of it to build stuff. 🙂

Part of why processed foods make you fat. Energy is just about the only thing it is good for.

Farhad
Farhad
1 year 8 months ago

Isn’t the real issue calories out of your digestive track and into your system, rather than the calories taken into your mouth? For example, it is common to have undigested food in one’s stool. Even your articles on resistant starches indicate that these starches are not digested, so their calories don’t count.

Russell
Russell
1 year 8 months ago

No. The real issue is calories (or energy, or fat) into fat cells vs. calories out of fat cells. When you get right down to it, you get fat when more fat enters the fat cells than leave the fat cells.

So, what causes that to happen?

Insulin.

Get your insulin under control and you’ll get the fat in vs. fat out (of the fat cells) going in the right direction.

Whitedaisy
Whitedaisy
1 year 8 months ago

Yes!!

Zaher Iyaso
1 year 8 months ago

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the very nice information. I have a question outside the calorie issue.

An old man (87 years with great health), was telling me once that I need to check food comes from source that lives long. Olive is an example. its tree lives long comparing to other plants. Have you been to such a subject? Eating things living long to live long!!

Please advise if it has any scientific research for such a subject. Do we really need to find out what food/trees live?

Thanks

dmunro
dmunro
1 year 8 months ago

That’s an interesting question. I hope someone has looked into it. I wouldn’t doubt that there is some positive psychological effect–not to be discounted, since the placebo/nocebo effect is powerful.

zaher Iyaso
1 year 8 months ago

Thank you for the reply!

I was wondering if Mr. Mark has any answer or research for this issue.
I hope he can write an article about this issue as It might be important.

I have met this gentlemen 3 times (he is 87 years old). He was jumping on the ladder! very fast in walking and he looks like 60. He depends on his food on eating food coming from long life plants!

All the best!

Larry
Larry
1 year 8 months ago
As a chronically morbidly obese person, between 270 and 340 lbs at 5’9″ from mid 20s to 48, hunger was a constant. I went from 285 to 165 this past year and half without calorie counting a single day. My hunger has disappeared. Here is what I pieced together happened. I was a carbolic. Constant insulin production. It would not surprise me if it was 24/7. So food was getting constantly stored, hence less nutrients for me. Also it was not nutrient dense food. So my body needed more food. Hence always hungry. Gut bacteria was probably majorly messed up.… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
1 year 8 months ago

Great job. How bout a Friday success story!

John Caton
1 year 8 months ago

I think we just had one, on a Wednesday. Good timing, too, because I needed to read another good one. Great results. Thanks.

Larry
Larry
1 year 8 months ago
Mic Braud
Mic Braud
1 year 8 months ago

What a great story. Healing can happen, and it isn’t about counting calories.

Kris
Kris
1 year 8 months ago

I’m ecstatic to know that these souls I’ve been consuming are 0 calories!

Lynn
Lynn
1 year 8 months ago

Fun to read this as I just heard on CBS This Morning that the best diet is Weight Watchers with The Biggest Loser close behind and that it is ALL about “calories in, calories out”, getting on the treadmill, will power and discipline. HELLO? Have these folks ever questioned this dogma? Apparently not. We are just a nation of gluttons and sloths.

Quincy
Quincy
1 year 8 months ago

Lynn, I saw that too on CBS this morning and all I could do was to shake my head. I was first introduced to Mark’s website in 2012. Depending on whether I am liftinfg weights or not, my sustained weight loss varies between 20-30 pounds and I keep the weight off through maintaining this way of eating.

Jamie Logie
1 year 8 months ago
Hey guys, happy new year first off! I think what’s key is recognizing how a foods calorie number has been attributed to it. I’m sure it’s been covered on here at some point but to discover the calorie content in a food the item in question is turned into a freeze dried powder of sorts and is incinerated in a device that measures the increased temperature of water surrounding it. The problem is our body doesn’t incinerate food, it digests it. And it responds to food differently in variety of different ways and situations. We’re not machines or calculators we… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
1 year 8 months ago

Gary Taubes in ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ and ‘Why We Get Fat’, debunked the calories in, calories out years ago in that classic book.

Kudos to recognizing that most people just want to lose weight and don’t mention anything about muscle lost. I’ve known several folks who lose both, and it looks really unhealthy.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

Calories in vs. calories out ISN’T debunked though. If you eat a small caloric deficit then you will lose fat. If you weight lift and eat sufficient protein then you will preserve your muscle or even gain some while doing so. This is common knowledge in more athletic circles, so I thought people here would know it too, but I guess not.

Nocona
Nocona
1 year 8 months ago

I think you missed the point. Read all these comments today and read the books.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

I’m not missing the point. The fact of the matter is that if you measure the whole foods you eat, estimate your calories used, and eat less than needed, then you WILL lose fat. Saying otherwise is biologically incorrect.

Russell
Russell
1 year 8 months ago
Go ask a hundred fat people if they’ve ever tried cutting calories or increasing output. Or better yet, you’re so smart, why not start a weight-loss clinic and serve the first hundred fatties for free. Then show the world your 100 success stories and the rest of the obese world will beat a well-beaten path to your door and you’ll become famous and fabulously wealthy. I only wish I had your intelligence and could have solved the world’s obesity problem with a five-line comment on a blog. I bow down to your genius. PS – In case your knack for… Read more »
PH
PH
1 year 8 months ago

Wow, people are really sensitive. Nocona was basically agreeing with what Mark wrote in the blog post, by pointing out the calorie in/out “myth”, and gets harped on. I guess either people disagree with Mark’s blog post and well or else didn’t quite comprehend either the blog or Nocona’s comment…

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago
Man, you are taking this waaaay too personally. I’m sorry man, but eating less than you need will lead to fat loss, it’s biological fact and is why we have fat in the first place. Just because people lacked the ability to put down the fork and properly calculate the calories you needed to eat to lose weight (not a perfect science, but if you aren’t losing weight on your numbers then either exercise more or eat less, it’s simple) doesn’t mean the system is broken. Nor does it require starving yourself like you think it does. My guess is… Read more »
kim
kim
1 year 8 months ago
I’m mystified by this as well. One must create an energy deficit to lose weight. I grew up in an African culture where the staple diet of our tribe was very high carbs. I was never overweight and didn’t ‘formally’ exercise. We just walked around alot out of necessity(easily 5-8miles most days). Max weight was 130 and I honestly thought I was fat. All my friends were slimmer. After moving to the US, I quickly shot up to 165 from reduced activity, driving everywhere plus junk food. After cutting out junk and going primal, I lost some weight but stalled… Read more »
Nicole
Nicole
1 year 8 months ago

Keep in mind that the “food” you are getting in America has been genetically engineered and treated very differently than food around the world. There are a lot of reasons Americans are so unhealthy, and the carbohydrate content of out food is only part of the problem. The genetics and processing is also a huge problem. Please don’t consider only calories, there are many variables involved, here.

Russell
Russell
1 year 8 months ago
Nigel – You act as though the human body is a simple bucket…calories go in, and calories go out. Figure out the equation and fix obesity. Your arrogance is astounding. There are probably more than a hundred million obese people in the US. Do you think they’re all so stupid that they lack the intelligence to figure out your simple calories in/calories out equation??? Come on man, check your premises at the door, because they’re wrong. Obesity has very little to do with calories in/calories out and nearly everything to do with insulin. Look in the history books and find… Read more »
Edmund Brown
Edmund Brown
1 year 8 months ago

What about #4 on the “calories out” mode?

#4 is defecation of undigested foods. I am pretty doggone sure that some people are more efficient at gleaning available/digestible calories form foods than other people are. I own livestock and know for a fact that it is true for them. If you crap the food out before it enters your blood stream it can’t do much for weight gain.

Mitch
Mitch
1 year 8 months ago
Dumping calories is real but I think this is how it’s handled in the equation: As it’s dumped it’s not counted as calories in ( so doesn’t have to be listed as calories out ). This means #1 ( the calories-in description ) is incomplete: it should be calories eaten that is absorbed into the blood stream via the gut (dumping them is not calories-in) – but we don’t measure dumped calories (a variable amount) so never really know calories-in. There are other calories-in complexities which I won’t bother getting into – it all gets too hard – too hard… Read more »
Violet
Violet
1 year 8 months ago
I ate according to the Primal Blueprint for two years and I struggled to maintain the five pounds I had lost at about six months in. I kept faithfully going, thinking at some point the rest of the fat I wanted to lose would eventually disappear (as described in so many Primal success stories.) It was only after beginning to count calories that I was finally able to lose another fifteen pounds and significantly reduce my body fat percentage. I had to decrease fat and increase carbohydrates to experience satiety. For me, the more fat I eat, the more fat… Read more »
PH
PH
1 year 8 months ago

I really do think that one “style” of eating doesn’t work for everyone. Everyone’s body is a bit different and people need to find what works best for them.

Shari
Shari
1 year 8 months ago
I lost 35 lbs doing calorie counting with a really fun app that kept track of everything. I had lost weight in the past using low carb but it always came back with a vengeance when I started eating carbs again. Calorie was helpful in teaching me portion control. Also, I liked that if I strayed a little and indulged in a candy bar, french fries or a glass of wine, I just factored it in to my daily total. It gave me a little freedom to not feel so deprived, which is part of the psychology of dieting for… Read more »
Daisy
1 year 8 months ago
Hi there, I have a question regarding weight lifting. I am in the fitness industry myself and realized the importance of weight lifting, but unfortunately I never enjoy lifting weight. I would like to walk my talk but at the same time, I would like to do something that I enjoy as well both for my mind as well as for long term compliance. My question is in your literature reveiw, have you come across any that talk about the effects of using your own body weight as resistance type of training? if not, do you think it is as… Read more »
Paleo-curious
1 year 8 months ago

I’m so with you there, Daisy– weights are my nemesis. In fact, that’s the focus of my challenge goal.

By the way, if you’re in on the 21-day challenge, there are some nice videos there on bodyweight moves, with variations for folks starting at different levels of strength.

Kim
Kim
1 year 8 months ago

Hi Daisy,
I don’t know of any specific literature, but resistance exercise should be considered weight lifting. Many folks who do yoga (no weights involved) have fabulous muscle tone. I love yoga, which supports all 3 areas of fitness: strength, endurance, and flexibility. That’s my two cents worth anyway. Kim

PH
PH
1 year 8 months ago
I was going to suggest yoga as well. There are different types of yoga though and, particularly in the U.S., some is more cardio-focused while other types are more strength/isometric muscle use focused. I can tell you that yoga, done right, is not easy, like some people seem to think it is 🙂 And there has been stuff written about using your own body weight as resistance. I remember reading an article on this blog about it with several links to other sites. Maybe you can either search this blog or someone with more specific info will post a link… Read more »
Steve
1 year 8 months ago
Hi, Absolutely body-weight resistance is effective. External weights are, in part, the carrot to help spur us on. We see the weight go up and down and it is satisfying and provides a nice framework of accomplishments. What matters most, from my direct experience, is the intensity of lifting –whether your own body weight, weights at a gym, or that stiff your boss told you to whack for “knowing too much”. Once you reach a certain level of physical effort to move whatever weight, then you signal the body to make changes –i.e you’re basically telling it: “Man, I’m losing… Read more »
Sonja Goldinak
Sonja Goldinak
1 year 8 months ago

Good, no nonsense article as always, Mark. I have most of your books and two of your cookbooks. I also have a husband who not only “brings home the bacon” but he brings home chips, cake, cookies, donuts knowing I have an eating disorder!
Can anybody out there help me convert him to a primal diet?

GrannyGrok
GrannyGrok
1 year 8 months ago

Hi Sonja, I am wondering if we are married to the same man!!!
My other half constantly undermines my efforts to lose weight while complaining about my weight. Aghhh.

Jules
Jules
1 year 8 months ago
The calorie in calorie out corundum is only meant to be an approximation, just like those equations that calculate your BMR or TDEE. As an approximation they work well to give you an idea, especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle. Where things get dicey is when you begin to account for calories when you exercise and that is where the epic failures are seen. Some people try to account for the calories by whatever a machine or heart rate monitor displays and those numbers are never accurate, as a matter of fact in most cases they are a gigantic… Read more »
Dave
1 year 8 months ago

This is a great article that bashes “conventional wisdom” in the face. So often, people like my dad have had it en”grained” in their minds about calories in and calories out and how many calories you burn during the exercise. I love these articles because it reminds us that we can’t just look at a menu or watch a tv commercial and believe everything you see and trust it implicitly. Thanks for a great article once again, Mark!

kim
kim
1 year 8 months ago

The details are nice to know but still, for people wanting to lose weight, calories in/out is still the most important message. Everyone knows that real food is better than processed food. If they eat more real food and exercise more, they will lose weight.

Allison
Allison
1 year 8 months ago
Not for me. I tried that for years and years and was always at least 25 or 30 pounds overweight, creeping upward every year. I had to eat every couple of hours and was usually exhausted and headachey in the afternoons. This was eating normal quantities of good quality real food cooked at home, not junk, and doing a reasonable amount of exercise. I did lose 20-30 pounds three or four times, but the weight always came back immediately. Counting calories was always a full time job, and not one I could see taking on for the rest of my… Read more »
kim
kim
1 year 8 months ago

Exactly! No matter how you went about it, ultimately, you ate less calories based on the type of foods you chose. Another person can choose to eat more/less carbs/fat/protein foods that they like and still lose weight if they’ve created a deficit one way or other from food/exercise.

Patrice
Patrice
1 year 8 months ago

Wow. That’s not what she said. She said that counting calories did not effectively lower her weight until she ate the right foods for her body. Yes you have to lower calories to lose weight but counting calories is rarely enough to cause weight loss on its own. That’s why conventional weight loss has a 98% five year failure rate. Calories in and out is only scratching the surface.

kim
kim
1 year 8 months ago
I mean, does it really matter if someone is consciously ‘counting’ or eating the right or wrong foods? A calorie deficit is a calorie deficit. Of course one can make it easier on themselves by eliminating calorie dense carbs but if they ‘can’t’ get through life without eating bread daily and they are able to tolerate it with no ill effects and are active enough to burn it off, they can make it work. I think many people fail at weight loss due to underestimating calorie intake and overestimating expenditure. How many overweight people people swear up and down that… Read more »
Allison
Allison
1 year 8 months ago

Counting calories did help me to lose weight. Again, and again, and again. The problem was always the rebound weight gain, because counting calories was:

1. A huge, boring amount of effort every single day,
2. Not successful at reducing food cravings, and
3. Not successful at reducing appetite or managing hunger

It seems I am not unusual in finding this to be a difficult way to live.

Altering my macronutrient ratios has worked because it solves all three problems. Now I automatically limit my calories without thought or effort, and weight loss is a side effect.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago
The weight probably came back because you began overeating once you hit your “goal”. The thing with counting calories is that it works great, but if you lack the ability to maintain a normal weight without it then you always have to do it. This is true for me as I lack the off switch for my appetite even on a paleo/primal diet, but too many people seem to think “I lost 20/40/100 pounds so I can eat whatever now!” and revert to the habits that got them fat in the first place without realizing that such an action will… Read more »
Whitedaisy
Whitedaisy
1 year 8 months ago

I really wish you would check your “biological facts” before posting, yet again, Nigel. Please study Insulin and Leptin. 300 calories of bread and 300 calories of a juicy grassfed steak will not provoke the same insulin response. As insulin is the fat storage hormone, it does not matter if you are in a calorie deficit- insulin will shuttle the excess blood glucose into the fat cell. The body is very efficient at solving the immediate problem of excess glucose. This is the point-choose your food wisely. It’s not calories in/calories out. It’s all about managing your insulin response.

Jim
1 year 8 months ago

So, to summarize:
1. Calories matter; you can’t gain weight unless calories IN is greater than calories BURNED. HOWEVER>>>
2. You can’t accurately measure calories IN. You’d be lucky to be within 20% which would be many pounds per year.
3. You can’t accurately measure (or control) calories BURNED.

So I guess…don’t worry about calories!

Doc Jim

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

2 is entirely wrong. You can’t be sure that processed foods aren’t the exact number provided, but you can Google whole foods (meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables) and use a small scale to get very accurate calorie values. Not worrying about calories is what has gotten America fat in the first place.

Mitch
Mitch
1 year 8 months ago

A pint of hot milk has more calories than a chilled pint of the same milk.
Are you measuring of the temperature too?

Meat has variable amounts of fat ( much more calories in fat weight) – do you cut out ALL the fat and measure it?

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago
Assuming what you said is correct (couldn’t find anything about it on Google so I am skeptical), the difference would be negligible at best. You estimate the amounts, and go off of that. Sometimes your estimates will be high, sometimes low, but over the meals it will equalize to a reasonably close value, especially with the wealth of nutritional information that things like Wolfram Alpha has. And, if you find that you aren’t losing sufficient fat or are even gaining it, then decrease your calculated calories by some more. It’s really not difficult or that variable, even with some small… Read more »
Mitch
Mitch
1 year 8 months ago
re: Assuming what you said is correct (couldn’t find anything about it on Google so I am skeptical) I assume you mean the hot/cold milk comment. Yeah the macro calories are the same (carb, fat, protein), but it hot it took energy calories to get it hot (so it has more energy calories ). Is this relevant? for a glass of milk to a person it wouldn’t count as much. But heat in/out does matter to the body – a person burns calories to maintain temperature. If a worker outside in winter is in a tee-shirt. He needs to eat… Read more »
Mitch
Mitch
1 year 8 months ago

Jim’s second point was :
“2. You can’t accurately measure calories IN. You’d be lucky to be within 20% which would be many pounds per year.”

You said:
“2 is entirely wrong…….

…..You estimate the amounts, and go off of that. Sometimes your estimates will be high, sometimes low, but over the meals it will equalize to a reasonably close value

……….. And, if you find that you aren’t losing sufficient fat or are even gaining it, then decrease your calculated calories by some more…….”

Esther Cook
Esther Cook
1 year 8 months ago

Not counting calories is what got America fat???!! REALLY?
How do wild animals or bushmen stay thin?!!

Our ancestors must have been hugely fat as they did not count calories. The term was not even invented until a couple centuries ago or so.

Cherry Pie
Cherry Pie
1 year 8 months ago

I think it was a bit different in tribal times. Food was not easy to come by, it took a lot of effort to get hold of it and people lived very active lifestyles. Just getting a drink of water required a lot of effort. Same goes for animals today. Food is not everywhere and animals must expend a lot of energy to stay alive. Unhealthy overweight animals will just not survive.

kim
kim
1 year 8 months ago

Bushmen and wild animals stay thin because they use up a lot of energy from all the hunting. Whether or not they’re aware of the concept of counting calories, is not relevant. Their bodies are doing the math.

Esther Cook
Esther Cook
1 year 8 months ago
Exactly, Kim! Their bodies did the math. Wondrously. There are about 3500 calories per pound of fat. So if you are gaining a pound a year, that is 10 calories per day. Nobody can use those paper calculations to figure out their needs so closely, yet that is a typical story for Americans in their 20’s and 30’s. Even when you are gaining 10 lb a year like menopausal women, the body is only off by 100 calories per day. Few bodies gain weight any faster than 10 lb a year. When a person diets and loses weight–why is there… Read more »
Al
Al
1 year 8 months ago

So here is an interesting study: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/

Not sure what to make of it.

Esther Cook
Esther Cook
1 year 8 months ago
That is certainly an interesting study. One thing I make of it is that the foods called “junk,” while vile, are not as bad for you as refined grain products or a number of other things. But mainly, the prof succeeded in losing weight by counting calories. Every fatty has managed the same thing. Temporarily. How do we restore the body’s natural ability to balance food and nutrient intake resulting in an attractive bod? Paleo has worked for some, getting a stand-up job instead of a desk job worked for one man I know, and I read a library book… Read more »
Baerdric
Baerdric
1 year 8 months ago

Calories in: A cup of gasoline has 485 calories, if I drank 10 a day I should gain a pound, but I’m pretty sure that would not be the result. What’s that you say, it depends on what form the calories are in? Thanks for playing.

Calories out: Poop burns.Because it has calories in it. I suspect a person on a high fat diet will have some really flammable poop. You could probably use it as fuel – which brings us back to the gasoline issue again.

John Caton
1 year 8 months ago

Not that this is relevant to your point, but you reminded of something else. Did you know the most efficient antioxidant is carbon monoxide? So, not all antioxidants are created equal either.

Erin
1 year 8 months ago

just curious where you read that?

PH
PH
1 year 8 months ago

It’s sarcasm in response to Baerdric’s non sequitur 🙂

Erin
Erin
1 year 8 months ago

ha! my bad.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

I’m not entirely sure what point you are trying to make, unless you entirely misunderstand what foods we can actually digest and which we can not. We can not metabolize either the calories in gasoline (a cup of which actually contains 3875 kcal, not 485) or the calories (mainly in the form of fiber and dead bacterial matter) in the poop, so hopefully you’re trying to be funny and not actually trying to argue that drinking gasoline would do anything but kill you.

Baerdric
Baerdric
1 year 8 months ago

It’s no fun if I have to explain it to you. But I did mean to write “an ounce of gasoline”…

Baerdric
Baerdric
1 year 8 months ago

Well, even that was wrong, lol! I thought there were 64 oz in a gallon for some reason.

Kazzarooni
Kazzarooni
1 year 8 months ago

So funny! You’ve brought tears to my eyes!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
1 year 8 months ago

Reminded me of something a history teacher said that (I think) the Nazis did in World War 2: harvested poop to extract explosive chemicals from it to use in their bombs. I think the chemicals were nitrates.
So, a paraffin candle alternative?

Baerdric
Baerdric
1 year 8 months ago

Most cultures burned animal dung at some point in their history, but meat eater dung is probably only really flammable when they are losing weight. While most of the weight is lost in breath, some of those fatty acids are sure to make it to the excrement.

ken
ken
1 year 8 months ago

All book sellers try their best to twist facts, but the fact is NO ONE has ever been able to prove you can over eat above your caloric maintenance day after day and NOT gain weight, It’s funny how we all agree 3500 cals make a pound of fat , but not to lose it…

Shirley
1 year 8 months ago

On weeks I don’t eat that much I do not lose weight. On weeks when I eat more food I lose 2 lbs. I’m talking about Paleo foods here.

Kate
Kate
1 year 8 months ago

That’s one of the reasons I didn’t like Weight Watchers when they had “points”. Sure, the leaders talked about nutrition at the meetings (lots of whole grains), but points in chocolate cake compared to the same points in a pile of cucumbers slices is all the slippery slope I needed to work the system 🙂

chris
chris
1 year 8 months ago
I personally think all of these are minor factors compared to calories. Counting calories is only useless if you measure vs some arbitrary value that determines the amount you need. Instead, track your cals every day and in the same manner, and see compare your intake to your avg weight inc/dec over that time. If you gained weight, you know you should cut back and vice versa. I do agree that 2000 cals of candy isnt the same as 2000 cals of nuts, but who really eats like that? All this stuff is important to take it to the next… Read more »
nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

This is similar to what I addressed in my comment. At the end of the day, calories in vs. calories out still holds fast, even if the minutiae changed the exact difference you need between the two to gain or lose weight.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago
This is one of the few places that I disagree with Marky Mark. On one hand he is totally right that it’s not as simple as calories in and calories out in terms of fat and muscle gain and fat loss due to a variety of factors, including the thermic effect of food and how different calories react with the body and whether they are utilized for energy or for structural purposes. However, it’s still by far the most reliable method for both, so the system still works in the end if you follow it. It’s not perfect since calories… Read more »
tazo
tazo
1 year 8 months ago

I have had this argument with my daughters boyfreind, think the mistake you make is the same as his.
Yes calorie counting is good IF you eat the right types of calories then use them/system. If you just eat any and restrict to your 2500/2000 whatever it wont work, hasnt for 99% of the population of dieters.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

It’s not a problem with calories in and calories out, it’s a problem with a bad diet and lack of will to not shovel everything that’s not nailed down into your mouth. Losing fat is not that difficult if you make small changes over time and eat a small caloric deficit with light exercise like walking, and the fact that people can’t handle eating less or not eating all the time does not mean the way to lose weight has changed.

rob
rob
1 year 8 months ago

I say eat what is healthy and do a few other things correctly and you should be good to go. Sometimes simple trumps everything else.

rob
rob
1 year 8 months ago

A little food for thought..maybe you need to drink more water?

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

I eat what is healthy, even by primal/paleo standards, I just do not have an appetite “off-switch” and I never have so the idea of “just eat this way and you’ll be fine” does not work for me.

On average I drink a gallon to a gallon and a half of water a day, not counting tea, so I do not think that is it.

kim
kim
1 year 8 months ago

Nigeltheoutlaw is correct.

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year 8 months ago

On the contrary, both he and you are refusing to understand that the calories in vs. out model is oversimplistic and does not adequately describe the processes needed for fat loss.

Russell
Russell
1 year 8 months ago

Do children grow because the take in more calories than they expend?

theflexetarian
theflexetarian
8 months 2 days ago

children grow due to hormonal changes. You can’t feed a kid tall. However providing adequate nutrition while in a growth phase can have an influence on their growth.

Farid
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t think point #3 is a myth. Eating more calories than we expend does cause weight gain. There could be a lot of causes for eating more calories, But the above statement is not a myth.

Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago

But it does not address what is done with that energy. Nor the absorption. Nor the partitioning.. How the body uses it or if it wstes it as heat dissipation, poop it out etc. Nor does it address what form of mass could potentially be gained.

This is VERY important!

Clay
Clay
1 year 8 months ago
I don’t see the evidence matching that. You can gain fat while eating a calorie deficit. You can loose fat eating an excess. That’s why some medications are notorious for causing weight gain. They are not literally reducing your energy expenditure. They are changing your body chemistry and directing it to favor one outcome over another. If my calorie expenditure was a magical fixed 2000 calories per day and I added an additional 100 calories a day of sugar or leafy greens they would not produce the same results as they would trigger entirely different metabolic and chemical reactions. And… Read more »
Greg
Greg
1 year 8 months ago

Be very careful when spelling fetishists.

tazo
tazo
1 year 8 months ago

As a competitve sod/cyclist will you stop with this. I dont want the simple truth coming out! Please let them watch/eat calories all 2000 in cake a day,

Then they can watch my skinny arse.

However when I try telling my kids, and the 18 yr old powerlifting uk champ, gym instructer boyfriend to not to eat the pyramid 5 a day calorie counting nonesense then, Then I need your help.

Rick
Rick
1 year 8 months ago

You actually don’t have to move much more to counter and overcome the fall in BMR from calorie restriction. Sure, one may be disinclined to move more, but then one may be disinclined to eat less, too. : )

Stacie
1 year 8 months ago
Will be sharing this with a group I’m currently in where we are all trying to lose weight. One woman in the group posted today that she ate an apple, a small portion of chicken and veggies from Panda Express, and watermelon (for dinner!) yesterday, only to wake up the next morning to see she had gained a pound. So yes, calories in/out is firmly entrenched in our “dieting society” and nothing good is coming from it. It breaks my heart to read comments like hers that just seep of frustration, despite the person thinking they are doing things right.… Read more »
Jules
Jules
1 year 8 months ago
The problem is that when you eat a small portion of chicken from a fast food place like Panda Express you have no idea how much fat or salt is that chicken cooked with. I remember in my consulting travelling days ordering what I thought was a light grilled fish fillet with veggies only to find out that it contained almost 1000 calories most of them from the obscene amount of oil and butter that was used to cook the stuff. So don’t feel bad for your friend. Sounds like she is digging her own grave. If you want to… Read more »
Clay
Clay
1 year 8 months ago

I concur. The salt alone could cause 1 pound of water weight retention. But then again, who has a scale so accurate that you can accurately claim a pound either way. Weighing yourself everyday sounds depressing. I don’t have a scale. When I’m really curious I go to Bed Bath and Beyond and try three of four digital scales and take the average. I don’t want to go to Bed Bath and Beyond, so therefore I don’t weigh myself very often.

Stacie
Stacie
1 year 8 months ago

The point is she just doesn’t really know any better. She’s fed into the conventional wisdom of “eat less, move more” and truly believes that’s how you’re supposed to lose weight. So when she has a day like that then “sees” weight gain — it’s frustrating. So I DO feel bad for her, because I’ve been there (empathy and compassion can go a long way in helping people). My hope is through this challenge I can help her and several others find their way to Mark’s site and a primal way of living.

nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

A pound in weight change in a day is meaningless. I can lose two to three times that from using the restroom in the morning, and can gain the same amount from dinner or drinking water. It’s why you’re not supposed to measure your weight daily as progress, and instead either do it weekly or take the average of daily weight measurements to see if you are making long term progress.

Stacie
1 year 8 months ago

yes, *I* know this, but she doesn’t…which is one of the main reasons I’m part of the group and sharing blogs and articles like Mark’s.

John
John
1 year 8 months ago

So, long story short…if you want to lose fat and gain muscle:

– Eat a caloric deficit of whole, nutrient dense foods, including a good amount of protein. Still need a deficit, but focusing ONLY on calories won’t get you very far.
– Exercise and be sure to include resistance training.

Later, rinse, repeat.

Debbie
Debbie
1 year 8 months ago
It is now well known in the research that fructose is the most problematic nutrient. It doesn’t trigger leptin to tell the brain that you are full, and is mainly processed by the liver into triglycerides, and then also LDL small particles. Normally our bodies convert 3 percent of the glucose in our blood into fructose. However, when someone is insulin resistant, their body converts 30 per cent of the glucose into fructose, which increases insulin resistance, and hence our risk of diabetes, dementia, obesity, depression, and many other deseases. Minimising fructose is crucial. There is an excellent short video… Read more »
Troy
Troy
1 year 8 months ago

Now compare this with all the metabolic ward studies that have been done over the years and you will see that this article is not correct.

Every metabolic ward study shows that eating less calories will cause you to lose weight and eating more will cause you to gain weight and it doesn’t matter what the ratio’s of fat, carbs, or protein are.

You can’t argue with the facts all you can do is deny them.

Bob
Bob
1 year 8 months ago
Wonderful tautology. If you call something a fact, who can argue with you? Unfortunately, it’s too simplistic but maybe that’s what you’re aiming for. The “fact” is that body chemistry, mainly insulin, will look to store some types of calories (fructose is the perfect example) as fat in the liver and will not store other types of calories (protein, fats) as fat in the liver. Your ratio argument is plain wrong – the ratio absolutely does matter for whether the calorie is stored as fat or used for other purposes or expelled. That’s what Mark is saying about the complexity… Read more »
Jules
Jules
1 year 8 months ago

Your reply is even more simplistic and erroneous then his calorie in calorie out formula. First of all, insulin has very little to do with the absorption of fructose since fructose has fairly moderate glycemic index. Second fructose is going to be converted to fat only in a state of calorie surplus. If you are eating less then you burn you should be in a deficit and under the circumstances the liver will convert fructose into glycogen so that it can be use to produce ATP, not fat.

Troy
Troy
1 year 8 months ago
Have you every read one of the metabolic ward studies that proves weight loss is about energy in/out? not Bro-science. I’m not talking about the science of how calories work in the body, your over complicating things. It’s very basic, the metabolic ward studies are done by unbiased scientists who control everything in what you do for a month and you can’t leave the compound, they take you out of the picture so real science can be done. Every one proves by science that calories do matter in weight loss. If you want to read a real science review of… Read more »
Bob
Bob
1 year 8 months ago
I enjoy your last statement where you give away your rigidity. If Taubes study shows something with which you disagree, it’s because he “messed with the data.” Nice open mind Troy. You have set upa strawman for your argument. Neither Mark nor i said calorie in/calorie out is not the case (re-read the article, Mark says flat out “this is technically true). But you totally miss his second point that calorie in affects calorie out. That’s why you’re ratio point is simplistic. Are you truly argiung that two people of the same weight, one composed mostly of lean muscle mass… Read more »
Troy
Troy
1 year 8 months ago
Bob, I understand what your saying and I agree with some of it, but in my comments to you I’m not going into detail just basics. I know that every body is different and have different BMR, TDEE, and metabolic rates, etc. In the metabolic ward studies they take all this into affect and all things being equal if you eat what your maintenance calories are you will not gain or loss weight. No, I’m saying Taubes is dishonest and since he will not be able to disprove the science that has been done already in the countless ward studies,… Read more »
Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago
That is incorrect. Overfeeding studies have been done. This ward research is DECADES OLD.. Furtehrmore, we are NOT talking about weight loss, we are talking FAT MASS LOSS – specifically. two different things. The conservation of energy does NOT at all address what FORM of mass SPECIFICALLY is lost. The scientists do not support what you are saying… I have talked to over 50 physcists and biophysicists about this issue or non-issue And please do MNOT cite “Anthony COLpo”. The scientific community IGNORES that crank. He gets OS muc wrong. ALL the phsycists I talked to say he is ABUSING… Read more »
Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago
I want to make clear to you that I have communicated with the researchers Anthony Colpo cites. They do not appreciate him MISREPRESENTING their research, NOR do they appreciate Colpo ABUSING./TOTALLY MISUSING the first law of thermodynamics in an erroneous attmpt to blame and patronize obese people. Colpo’s ward studied are EXTREMELY OUTDATED research. MUCH NEWER research has come out by Rosenbaum et al showing the body HAS A MIND OF IOTS OWN indeopendet of your eforts. Furthermore, other NEWER research includes overfeeding studies. ENORMOUS VARIATION is response to overfeeding. Colpo’s laughable dictum that obesity is a simple condition of… Read more »
Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago
EVERY single physicist ( 50 in all over 7 years) I talked to from Alex Filippenko to Phil Plaitt AGREES 100 % UNANIMOUSLY AND EMPHATICALLY with Gary Taubes’ assessment of the first law of themrodynamics- even if some is indrectly. I have the e-mails. There is not a single physcist who think obesity is about physics and basic themrodynamics. They emphatically STRESSED IT IS NOT. They stressed It is a super compl. Overfeeding studies show the HUGE variations in responses to overfeeding ( 5,000 extra calories) . Naturally thin guys gained MUSCLE and very little overall weight ( including the… Read more »
Jules
Jules
1 year 8 months ago
Dude, what you have been told by your biophysicist friends, but you either didn’t understand it or they are not as smart on this subject as you think. Yes, obesity is a problem with overfeeding, that is why you are not going to find obese individuals in 3rd world countries where people are starving. What invalidates any studies done on obesity is the fact that the metabolism of an obese individual is damaged and they don’t process food the same way as a normal person. The calorie in and calorie out corundum is perfectly true and in the end to… Read more »
Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago

That is incorrect. Overfeeding studies have been done. This ward research is DECADES OLD.. Furtehrmore, we are NOT talking about weight loss, we are talking FAT MASS LOSS – specifically. two different things.

The conservation of energy does NOT at all address what FORM of mass SPECIFICALLY is lost.

The scientists do not support what you are saying… I have talked to over 50 physcists and biophysicists about this issue or non-issue

Troy
Troy
1 year 8 months ago

Thanks Brett,

For letting me know about Anthony, he definitely is not my hero. I just read his book and trust the science he quotes.

I’m just a laymen trying to understand human physiology when it comes to weight loss.

I definitely do not believe the paleo dogma about metabolic advantage.

Right now I trust and would follow Lyle McDonald at bodyrecomposition on the web.

I believe what he says because it’s based on human studies and real science.

Go to his site and search for “The Energy Balance Equation” I would trust this before any paleo dogma about how we lose fat.

Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago
Hi XFCE, I saw the article. The physicists told me Lyle’s singular equation is far too simplistic. To account for the every last bit of the energy bnalance of the body would require many equationS, not just one. They would all be exceedingly hellishly complicated. They’d have to account for various efficiency factors, energy being transfered to and from the system which includes nutrtients etc. The conservation of energy is valid, thus far, but there are problems accounting for all of the energy, Feynman goes into this in his books. He uses Denis The Menace’s “blocks” ( he sues 28… Read more »
nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago

Agreed. All of these small caveats and examinations of the minutiae of weight gain and loss is interesting, but it doesn’t change the simple fact that eating less than you need will lose fat and eating more than you need will either gain you fat or muscle (depending on if you exercise). People denying this are just denying immutable biological fact, as well as the reason as to why we have fat in the first place.

Larry
Larry
1 year 8 months ago
Those of you thinking it is still calories in calories out consider this. The average American is consuming 400 more calories a day then 3 or 4 decades ago. Multiply that by 365 then divide by 3,500. CICO predicts a gain of 42 pounds a year. Yes CICO tells us the average 40-50 year old American should be around half a ton or more. Clearly to me our bodies do a darn good job trying to be an optimal weight but they can only do so much on a SAD, HFCS, processed food nightmare. Interesting Sam Feltham mentioned that Britain… Read more »
nigeltheoutlaw
nigeltheoutlaw
1 year 8 months ago
You do realize that as you get fatter, your BMR increases as well? After a certain point of overeating their way to being significantly overweight, those extra 400 calories would only equate to the BMR of the fat person since their BMR does not remain static. I get what you are trying to argue, but you did not think it through at all if you think this actually helps oppose the idea of calories in versus calories out. If anything it only supports it since the extra calories get people fatter until they hit the higher BMR that leads to… Read more »
Clay
Clay
1 year 8 months ago

There’s another factor and that is binging when you are metabolically healthy. It seems I can consume almost an unlimited amount of calories in one sitting, even loaded with grains and dairy, and feel great the next day and be exactly the same physically (fat /lean muscle). Somehow my body just uses it up. Now if I did that everyday I’d pay the price but once in a while I’ve seen no effect at all. I don’t think a metabolically damaged person would have the same results.

Liporidex Works
Liporidex Works
1 year 8 months ago

I feel that losing weight is the combination of many things. It’s attitude, a nutritious diet, exercise and ensuring you are getting in proper supplements. So I agree with you that it’s not just about cutting calories, in fact some people may need to increase calories, but just ensure they are QUALITY calories. I always like to say “eat with a purpose.” Thank you for the great post, looking forward to more to help me in 2015!

Jonathan Goodman
1 year 8 months ago

Thanks Mark for reminding folks that not all calories are created equal. In my practice I am seeing remarkable results in people eating substantial amounts of calories.

I test metabolic rate using the Korr Reevue and have seen rmr go up with 20+ pound weight loss based on body composition and caloric composition changes. Very cool stuff and very gratifying.

I would also like to cite the Annals of internal Med study from Sept 2014 showing a roughly 8 pound greater weight loss in the low carb group than in the low fat group.

Olav
Olav
1 year 8 months ago

Nope. I disagree with Mark completly. The Calorie Myth is just that- A Myth.

The question (Just to show how wrong this Calorie stuff is) is what calorie did Mark mean? The large calorie, kilogram calorie, dietary calorie, nutritionist’s calorie, nutritional calorie, Calorie (capital C) or food calorie? Actually we should be working with Joule or was it joule and has it´s place right next to Ohm and Volt which measure- Electricity! Which means we should be electricians, at least we could ditch the Doctors and just go to the next electrician!

Anyway. Flawed science bent into complicated mathematical conversions.

Brett Michaels
Brett Michaels
1 year 8 months ago

As Richard Phillips Feynman noted it is an embarrassment to physicists that we have all these unit terms for energy such as watts, joules etc. . They are all the same thing.

“Nobody actually eats a thing called calories. When you hear of calories , that is merely the heat energy in the food.”
– Richard Phillips Feynman

The human body derives its energy from the chemical energy contained in the chemical bonds of the food we digest. This is then CONVERTED into heat and kinetic energy ( and thought)

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