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The True Definition of Calories i.e. "Why what you believe is extremist BS"

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  • #46
    I like Gary Taubes and alot of his takes on nutrition, but I don't believe what he says is Hammurabi's Code posted on a public stela either.
    Last edited by cookiemonster; 07-25-2012, 05:09 PM.

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    • #47
      The article makes the point a calorie is a calorie. You can loose weight eating real food or eating twinkies.
      One point the author glossed over is if you are eat the same quantity of quality calories vs junk calories IMO you will loose weight faster eating the quality calories because your body has the nutrients it needs to function at peak levels.
      Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
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      Don't forget to play!

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      • #48
        Originally posted by jimhensen View Post
        But who is actually only burning 1000 cals a day? An small elderly woman maybe.
        Maybe somebody with severe metabolic dysregulation. What's your point?

        Originally posted by primal pete
        What exactly are you arguing about here then? That's exactly what the point of the OP is - that for one reason or another, stalled weight loss is ultimately a result of no calorie deficit
        Did you read my post or the linked article at all? I'm simply pointing out that the OP's article is hanging a straw man. Nobody (worth arguing with at least) is claiming that the laws of thermodynamics are somehow violated by human metabolism.

        I am also offering the caveat that the type of calories in can affect the quantity of calories out and the quantity of calories out can affect (yes, by affecting appetite and ultimately a behavior) calories in.
        The Champagne of Beards

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Dirlot View Post
          The article makes the point a calorie is a calorie. You can loose weight eating real food or eating twinkies.
          One point the author glossed over is if you are eat the same quantity of quality calories vs junk calories IMO you will loose weight faster eating the quality calories because your body has the nutrients it needs to function at peak levels.
          Which is where satiety comes into play--when your nutritional needs are satisfied, you're less likely to have cravings or seek out more food to fulfill those needs. Being well nourished makes a big difference (and of course will also affect activity levels, healing, sleep, and other factors too).
          “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

          Owly's Journal

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          • #50
            Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
            Maybe somebody with severe metabolic dysregulation. What's your point?

            Did you read my post or the linked article at all? I'm simply pointing out that the OP's article is hanging a straw man......
            Thats kinda his MO. Why I don't bother. Its an inflammatory opener with disregard to the real issue. Moving on (least I am)....

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            • #51
              Originally posted by jimhensen View Post
              But who is actually only burning 1000 cals a day? An small elderly woman maybe.
              When I saw a doc recently about my resistance to weight loss, and discovered that I did actually have thyroid issues, the GP did some tests and estimated that I was burning 900 calories fewer than what a normal calorie calculator would have me believe. Given that my maintenance calories was always estimated to be around 2200 calories, that put me at burning only 1300 calories per day. And I am a fairly tall, 28 year old woman, and I only have 'moderate' thyroid issues, according to the doc. I think someone could easily be burning a lot less.

              Also I dispute one of the other posts above that 'for 99% of people this is not the case' - in regards to people having thyroid or other hormonal issues. Firstly, I'd say more than 1% of people have thyroid issues, for an estimate of the rates in Australia, a quick google search found this How Many Australians Have Thyroid Conditions?. Combined with the fact that most GPs don't treat the condition properly (i.e. only treating TSH symptoms, and to T4 levels, not T3), a portion of people who are deemed medically to have their thyroid conditions 'managed' actually do not. Add to that the arbitrary nature of the 'normal ranges' used to diagnose hypothyroidism, and the fact that some people won't be going to the doc to get it checked out, I'd say it's more common that is usually reported.

              I drove myself crazy trying to figure out why I wasn't losing weight - ignoring calories, going primal, cutting out dairy, cutting out fruit, slowly cutting out everything that was suggested to me on the forums, changing my exercise...NOTHING worked. Now that I am being treated for my thyroid more comprehensively, I still haven't lost weight, but I am not fully medicated yet as I only got on to a good GP 2 months ago. One thing that has happened though is that I have stopped gaining weight - something I did for a over a year, resulting in an extra 12kg.

              Personally I know that counting calories alone doesn't work. At one point I was on 1200 cal per day (meticulous weighing and recording - not on fitday, but from the back of the packets), as well eating primally, exercising primally, and couldn't lose. But I think counting calories only doesn't work because we don't have the perfect equation. If we could somehow get inside our bodies and work out our exact energy needs, including influence of hormones, different macronutritents, energy efficiency, genetics, metabolism, body temp, and whatever else impacts it, and calculate an exact and accurate measure of calories required, then yes, I think counting calories may work. Assuming that the act of cutting calories doesn't change any of the previous calculations.

              But I also know from experience that just going primal doesn't work either if you're broken.

              The tricky part on the whole 'calories count' debate are the case of people eating thousands of calories and losing weight. I can only postulate that their bodies aren't 'broken', so when they start eating primally their bodies decide that any excess fat is wholly unneccesary, and thus amps the metabolism, using more energy in basic cellular functions, creating more heat etc(I bet these people don't have the chronically cold hand and feet and low body temp that accompanies most of us who struggle to lose).

              I realise that the original post had the caveat of 'unless you have a hormonal issue', but I feel the sometimes the importance or prevalence of such conditions are minimised, which may discourage people from going to their doc for help. I was convinced for a long time that it was something I was or was not doing. Now I realise that for me, it didn't matter what I did, I wasn't going to lose because my body wouldn't let me. But at the time I felt like a failure - how come I couldn't make it work? At least now I don't feel so bad about not being able to lose the extra weight.
              Last edited by lucy1984; 07-25-2012, 05:42 PM. Reason: typo

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              • #52
                Great article, mainly for the author's Snakes On A Plane reference, but the other material was good too.

                ...clearly I have nothing to add to this. Plenty of excellent posts by several members already!


                edit: Actually, I will say that I appreciate the author's nuanced approach. He wrote an article about calories mattering (more so in his opinion than any other factor in fat loss) but as he did so he maintained the perspective that quality of food is the most important dietary determinant of health. In his words: "Eating wholesome, minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods is the best way to ensure good health."

                Personally, I think good health trumps everything (and leads to everything... like fat loss). As long as people aim for excellent health first (which from the dietary aspect means eating quality, nutritious food), then I think it can be very useful to start counting calories as a strategy to lose weight (if they so desire). Health first, calorie counting second -- don't skip step 1.
                Last edited by ciep; 07-25-2012, 05:57 PM. Reason: afterthought

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by Owly View Post
                  Which is where satiety comes into play--when your nutritional needs are satisfied, you're less likely to have cravings or seek out more food to fulfill those needs. Being well nourished makes a big difference (and of course will also affect activity levels, healing, sleep, and other factors too).
                  I think this is why I do better when I take my supplements regularly. Seems like the days I run into trouble, whether that be giving into some temptation or just not seeming to get enough to eat even if it is healthy stuff, seems to be the days that I forget to take my supplements. Could just be in my head but if I go for a few days w/o my supplements, I have a few days of not so hot choices and/or progress.
                  65lbs gone and counting!!

                  Fat 2 Fit - One Woman's Journey

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                  • #54
                    Thanks for posting. When I first started reading MDA I took on that really anti-carb attitude as well. I was pre-diabetic though and was having a lot of problems controlling blood sugar, so I think that starting out, being low carb was definitely the better option for me. I am no longer prediabetic and now carb cycle instead.

                    As Emmie said... I think some people are scared of creating a calorie deficit that's too large, so we cling onto hope in the form of saying calories aren't what is important. I currently live on 1200cals a day and honestly, I want to lose faster! But Emmie is right... you're always told not to go lower than that. I'm sure for men the thought of 1200cals is horrifying, let alone under 1000, but for a female with a desk job whose only exercise is at the gym, it becomes the only way to make progress.

                    I now subscribe more to letting my carb intake match my activity level. On gym days I'll go up to 150g-200g of carbs, while on my sedentary days I'll keep it under 50g. I haven't experimented with it enough to know the outcome yet but I feel good and it makes sense to me to do it this way so I will continue.

                    I think perhaps another point for why people cling to low-carb is because for a lot of people who have been out of control with their eating (to the point where they have become obese after rapid weight gain), low carb suddenly changes how hunger works at least that's what I found. I'm sure being prediabetic had a lot to do with that, but before low carb I honestly wouldn't last more than 10-12 hours of eating "normally" at an acceptable calorific intake without going on a massive binge. Once I was low carb for 4 days+ suddenly I found that stopped. My protein intake probably also increased, lowering my hunger, as the article mentioned, but I think the blood sugar rollercoaster was also a big factor. That article potentially was not aimed at obese people though.

                    Anyway, thanks for posting. Always good to add more info to your repertoire.
                    Current weight lost: 82.9lb (37.6kg)

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by nixxy View Post
                      Thanks for posting. When I first started reading MDA I took on that really anti-carb attitude as well. I was pre-diabetic though and was having a lot of problems controlling blood sugar, so I think that starting out, being low carb was definitely the better option for me. I am no longer prediabetic and now carb cycle instead.

                      As Emmie said... I think some people are scared of creating a calorie deficit that's too large, so we cling onto hope in the form of saying calories aren't what is important. I currently live on 1200cals a day and honestly, I want to lose faster! But Emmie is right... you're always told not to go lower than that. I'm sure for men the thought of 1200cals is horrifying, let alone under 1000, but for a female with a desk job whose only exercise is at the gym, it becomes the only way to make progress.

                      I now subscribe more to letting my carb intake match my activity level. On gym days I'll go up to 150g-200g of carbs, while on my sedentary days I'll keep it under 50g. I haven't experimented with it enough to know the outcome yet but I feel good and it makes sense to me to do it this way so I will continue.

                      I think perhaps another point for why people cling to low-carb is because for a lot of people who have been out of control with their eating (to the point where they have become obese after rapid weight gain), low carb suddenly changes how hunger works at least that's what I found. I'm sure being prediabetic had a lot to do with that, but before low carb I honestly wouldn't last more than 10-12 hours of eating "normally" at an acceptable calorific intake without going on a massive binge. Once I was low carb for 4 days+ suddenly I found that stopped. My protein intake probably also increased, lowering my hunger, as the article mentioned, but I think the blood sugar rollercoaster was also a big factor. That article potentially was not aimed at obese people though.

                      Anyway, thanks for posting. Always good to add more info to your repertoire.
                      Absolutely, except that I'd note that for *some* females with a desk job whose only exercise is at the gym, 1200 calories makes sense, but for some of us, that means ending each day in misery and gnawing on the furniture with hunger. I appear to have a very exercise sensitive metabolism, and despite being a grad student and currently doing office temp work (both of which involve loads of desk time), my daily intake is somewhere in the 2000-2500 calorie range with workouts 3-4 times a week and regular walking with my dog. At that intake, I continue to lose fat/weight.

                      But rather than disproving your point, I think this clearly illustrates that people's metabolisms can be all over the map. I know women at my weight on here who eat probably half what I do daily despite also being active. This doesn't mean that calories don't matter--you still have to eat under TDEE to lose weight--but it does mean that the calculation is more tricky than one might think and that online BMR calculators are definitely not accurate for all people.
                      “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                      Owly's Journal

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                      • #56
                        Fastest way I ever lost weight was black beauties (popular in bygone days). Could barely eat a thing. The house was always spotless. Had to smoke pot to get to sleep. I loved them, though I think they'd kill me now.

                        So, if weight is the only issue, there are plenty of fast ways to lose, from drugs to medical fasts.

                        But if health is the issue, eat lots of plants, animals, and bugs, move slowly often..... etc.
                        "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                        B*tch-lite

                        Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by JoanieL View Post
                          Fastest way I ever lost weight was black beauties (popular in bygone days). Could barely eat a thing. The house was always spotless. Had to smoke pot to get to sleep. I loved them, though I think they'd kill me now.

                          So, if weight is the only issue, there are plenty of fast ways to lose, from drugs to medical fasts.

                          But if health is the issue, eat lots of plants, animals, and bugs, move slowly often..... etc.
                          LOL awesome. And quite to the point. Weight loss is easy. Health is the worthy goal.

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                          • #58
                            Ok, thought of some gnawing questions. I am sure already answered in other threads but I havent really found my answers.

                            But if CICO is the thing, what is everyone's take on the following:

                            Does it matter when you consume them? Some say 1) Eat breakfast first thing. Jump start your metabolism. Some say 2) Eat smaller more frequently, keep your metabolism revved. Some say 3)Dont eat often, don't snack. But what difference does it make at the end of the day so long as you have a deficit?

                            Also - dont go too low on calories. You go into starvation mode? wth is that anyways? Seems like the tooth fairy to me. Good idea on paper but for what purpose, I mean seems to me like one of 3 things. 1. Eat enough to just maintain 2. Eat too much and store the excess 3. Dont eat enough and you lose by pulling from the reserves. If you arent eating enough, then the body is suppose to live on it's reserve right? It makes no sense to me that the body would store fat for a rainy day, but then go into starvation mode and not use it when it is starts to rain. Nothing scientific, just my line of thinking. So it seems to me like, going too low is a non-issue. Now, I get that you arent getting enough nutrients but if you supplement, then if weight loss is the goal, it should be okay until you reach maintenance, shouldnt it? Yet one of the first things ppl say when you plateau is you are probably not eating enough.

                            Or they say you should exercise more. But then ppl say it is mostly about nutrition, not about exercise. But if the activity creates a bigger deficit, seems like it should have a direct impact. Like on BL and they exercise 8 hours a day or whatever. It is just when I exercise more, I get more hungry so it seems counterproductive for weight loss. I do understand there are many other benefits but I am just talking about the calories thing.

                            So eating too few brings me to restricted calories vs. fasting. Some say dont restrict too low, but fasting is okay. Does fasting then really work for weight loss? I mean if at the end of the day you consume 1200 calories, does the body care whether you eat 100 calories 12 times a day, or one big 1200 meal. Does it care if you eat every other day and have 2400 calories when the window opens? Does it care if you eat before midnight, after midnight?

                            And it seems to me like if it is CICO, why do we have/need a carb curve? Why do we care about macros at all. I get that some macros are more satiating than others, so choose wisely, make it count. I use to drink a gallon of sweet tea a day, 300 grams of sugar. 1000 calories if I figured correctly. If I only drank sweet tea along with my supplements, would I lose weight yes, because it was 1000 calories thus creating a deficit, or no because it was 300 grams of carbs?

                            CICO is confusing. Seems like it should be so simple. I guess I should read the whole article. Maybe it is outlined there.
                            Last edited by gopintos; 07-25-2012, 07:52 PM.
                            65lbs gone and counting!!

                            Fat 2 Fit - One Woman's Journey

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                            • #59
                              Facing the reality of calories is just too depressing for some people to handle because it means that 300 calorie cream/coffee and slab of butter on your vegetables doesn't come without drawbacks if you're trying to lose or maintain a certain weight. I feel like I've walked into an alternate reality sometimes when I see questions from people who are putting slabs of butter in their coffee and asking why they're not losing weight. I remember a lady telling me she couldn't lose weight despite hardly eating anything, I was wondering whether she was grossly miscalculating her food intake but then she told me she was drinking lots of glucose drinks everyday so she could still have energy while she was dieting.

                              I no longer give people advice like "don't fear the fat" because sometimes they translate it from "don't throw your egg yolks out" and interpret it as "ditch all carbs and slather everything in hundreds of empty fat calories".
                              Originally posted by Hawkward View Post
                              I have no doubt that losing weight / fat requires that you consume fewer calories than you burn. There are no "magic" calories that don't count, or count less. And on a day to day basis, it wouldn't matter what those calories consisted of. However, I would think that over time, what you eat could affect how well your body burns calories. Eat a bad enough diet over time (even without increasing calories) and your body will become malnourished (thyroid or liver problems, for example) and less efficient at burning calories. You'll then gain weight, and it's still because you're burning fewer calories than you're taking in, but the kinds of calories you ate had a lot to do with that by making you less able to burn calories effectively. So in that sense there really are "good calories and bad calories", but not based on whether they're carbs or fats, but rather based on whether in total, they give your body the nutrients it needs.
                              It's true that you'll find it easier and your body will most likely run more efficiently on whole foods but these things play an extremely insignificant role in short term weight loss for and are basically irrelevant for the people making threads asking "Why aren't I losing weight".
                              Last edited by Forgotmylastusername; 07-25-2012, 08:21 PM.

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                              • #60
                                I think lots of people fail at primal because it has gotten around that "with primal, you eat when your hungry and as much as you want." This is a theory that is somewhat true; when you are primal and eating more nutritional food, you may not be as hungry and usual so you CAN eat whenever you want because, well, "whenever you want" happens to be less often then when you were on your SAD diet, however; it isnt like that for all people.

                                I was lucky enough to read a post when I first joined. The poster said that you CANT eat as much as you want and you CANT eat whenever you want. Yes we are eating better food, and yes we may not be as hungry, we may skip meals but, watch how much fruit ect.. you eat because you still need to burn off your calories.

                                I dont have time to read 7 pages of posts. I read most of it and I THINK this is the jist of the thread? Please do correct me if I am wrong.

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