Thought on calorie counting and protein
The following just occurred to me:
When you're on a primal diet, you consume a lot of protein. You still consume some carbs, so it is unlikely that your body will use the protein as fuel (via gluconeogenesis in the liver) as long as your fat metabolism is functioning correctly (and your cells don't need a lot of glucose).
So: When you calculate your daily calorie requirement because you want to lose weight, and you're consuming adequate protein (e.g. 1g per pound of lean body mass, adjusted for exercise), wouldn't it make sense to not count all or some of the protein when calculating calorie intake?
Example: Your lean body mass is 150lbs, and you're consuming 150g of protein each day, plus minimal carbs, plus quite some fat. Let's assume you calculated 2000 calories as your daily caloric requirement, and you adjust your food intake accordingly (you make sure to consume enough carbs/fat in addition to the 150g of protein in order to reach 2000 calories).
Now, due to common calculation the 150g of protein equal about 675 calories (1g protein = 4.5 calories). But if it's true that your body does not convert that protein into energy, but uses it to maintain your lean tissue, it shouldn't be considered when calculating your daily caloric intake. In that case you actually only eat 1325 calories each day, and thus might dramatically slow down your metabolism. Or your body might in that situation decide to convert the protein to glucose - if for some reason it's needed in larger amounts. Then you would probably not slow down your metabolism that much, but you would also not have enough protein to support your lean body mass.
Either way you look at it: My conclusion has to be that we should *not* consider the calories of protein in a primal diet, or at least only consider a small fraction (like 20%) to account for the possibility that some of the protein is converted into glucose.
What are your thoughts? I read 25 books on nutrition, dieting and fitness, but I've never seen this possibility discussed anywhere.
Last edited by MikeEnRegalia; 05-28-2010 at 03:38 AM.
I'm sorry, but this makes no sense to me. We cannot know how our bodies are using the food we eat. All 'calories' mean are an estimate of the amount of energy in the food we consume. Our bodies can use that energy in a variety of ways, and we cannot be sure what proportion of protein is used for fuel, building tissue, etc. If we want to lose weight, we try for a calorie deficit so that our bodies will use stored fat for fuel.
But the body is totally in control with what it uses of the fuel we provide and how it uses it.
Mark wrote a blog entry on this topic, mentioning the same things you have.
The voice of reason! I totally agree.
Originally Posted by emmie
Awesome! I hadn't known that post, I suppose great minds do think alike. :-)
Originally Posted by RSL
I really enjoyed the blog entry, but one thing about it confused me. Well, actually, not in the blog, but other things Mark has said. He says that we may not be able to "count" some of the calories in protein, because they are used as building blocks and not fuel. But then, in other places. like in the book, he says to use caloric deficit to figure out how many calories to eat. Using that, all calories are counted as fuel, even the ones that Mark says elsewhere are not used as fuel.
^ you can analyze your situation. If you're currently trying to build lean body mass and you lift heavy things 3 times a week, you can speculate that most of your dietary protein will be used to build that body mass. But if you're actually not gaining lean body mass, maybe you should eat a little bit more ... maybe some PB-compatible carbs after the workouts, and a bit more fat than you would expect from comparing your conventionally calculated caloric intake with your estimated caloric expenditure. Or to put it a simpler way: If you're eating right in terms of carbs and calories but you hit a plateau, try not counting protein calories and see if that gets you closer towards your goals.
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