A Calorie is Not A Calorie - A Discussion of Thermodynamics

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #197

In case anyone missed this, and I’m sure a select few of you did:

Jason Fung:

Said another way — reducing Calories In reduces Calories Out. Reducing caloric intake inevitably leads to reduced caloric expenditure. That is why conventional dieting as we know it does not work. I know it. You know it.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #198

The calorie theory of obesity has been perhaps one of the greatest failures in the history of medicine. Given the number of excess deaths caused by metabolic syndrome, you could argue that it is a bigger disaster than World War II. It is based on a complete misinterpretation of the energy balance equation.

Body fat gained = Calories In – Calories Out

This equation, known as the energy balance equation is always true. So, looking at this equation, people then say something like ‘It’s all about restricting the calories you eat’, or ‘All diets work by restricting calories’. On the Calories Out side, you hear things like ‘You should exercise more’. This is the standard Eat Less, Move More approach. Doctors, even so-called ‘obesity experts’ and various health professionals say stuff like this all the time, but they’re completely wrong. The problem is that they don’t even know why they’re so wrong.

The energy balance equation (which, yes, is always true) does NOT support the Eat Less, Move More approach.

The Calories In/ Calories Out (CICO) model has been tested over and over again. Multiple trials have shown it to be a complete failure. If somebody vociferously defends the CICO paradigm, I can immediately and efficiently identify them as people who have not really understood what causes obesity, and have no serious grasp of the physiology behind weight gain. These are the people who keep parroting ‘A calorie is a calorie’, as if I had asked them ‘Is a calorie a calorie’? The question I ask is ‘Are all calories equally fattening’, to which they usually stare blankly at me, before replying ‘It’s all about calories’, as if the body had any actual method of measuring calories.

The CICO model is very useful because it efficiently flags idiots people who are not all that knowledgable about obesity, and I can safely ignore them. There are many of these people out there, and not everybody is worth listening to.

Jason Fung.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #199

The first law of Thermodynamics is always true, but completely irrelevant to human health. Yes, if Calories In is more than Calories Out then you will gain fat. But if you eat more Calories, you will burn more calories. If you eat less calories, you will burn less. So there is no overall change in body fatness. Just like the bar – if more people come in, but more people leave, then there is no change.

The problem is that people now make the entirely unwarranted assumption that Calorie Output remains stable so that reducing calories intake (food) automatically results in loss of body fat. This is why I see tables like this, that are liked by so many. As I’ve written about many times, this is utterly false. Basal metabolism may increase or decrease up to 40%.
But this false belief results in the strategy that I call Caloric Reduction as Primary (CRaP). So many people believe that simply reducing calorie intake is a reasonable strategy of weight loss. They think that hormonal changes (mostly insulin and insulin resistance) created by intermittent fasting or paleo or ketogenic diets are irrelevant. For them, it’s all about calorie intake.

People assume that it is a scientifically proven fact that reducing ‘Calories In’ will cause long term body fat loss. Experimentally, this is simple. Take some people. Randomize them. Give some of them calorie restriction. Watch them lose weight and live happily ever after. The others who continue with their usual diet don’t lose weight. Simple.

Can somebody please point out those studies to me? We’ve recommended the ‘Eat Less, Move More’ strategy for almost half a century. Where are all these studies? Oh, right. They all conclusively show that CRaP does NOT produce long term weight loss.

Now, I realize that my most vociferous critics on this forum are not keen on reading, only keen on bloviating their unsupported opinions. But I thought there are likely others reading this topic who would be interesting in seeing the specifics of why CICO diets fail, fail big time, fail universally. Many of you have been there done that and know just how true.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #200

This is interesting and thank you @anon81060937 for originally posting the link elsewhere:

(Bunny) #201

I think “weight watchers” is the best one on the chart which may surprise some people but when you surgically extract and doggedly pursue the data and science for many years ”weight watchers“ wins and WINS in my opinion.

If you believe-in the Theory of The Electric Universe and that I use to model beauty products on Venus here is the alternative electrical analogy for metabolic dysregulation or whatever you want to call it:

Click in corner to expand===>

I know there will be people complaining ”…I was on weight watchers and didn’t work…” …lol Fortunately I gasp the concept and frame-work, and it does in-fact work…

(Kevin) #202

That’s silly. I don’t think you can present one instance where your “critics” state their opinions as if they are independent fact. So right away we’re back to “at the very least let’s make sure that our statements are true.” It’s not “bloviating” to focus on telling the truth.

You’re having emotional reactions to logic. Here’s an example:

Good grief, get over yourself. “Oh, the DRAMA…” :smile:

It really is like you see yourself on some ‘mythic quest’ to slay an evil dragon whose nefarious forces are arrayed against you. “Tilting at windmills” as somebody said. Hat tip @ElmosUzi

In reality, you’re just confused, and pretending that different groups of people are the same.

Somehow, you are blind to the fact that nobody in this thread is a proponent of CICO as you conceive of it. Good points have been made about physics and the laws of thermodynamics. But nobody is disagreeing with Jason Fung, for example. You really are just pretending about people.

If you think anybody is a proponent of CICO as you conceive of it, then quote them. Let’s see if you have any basis for what you’re talking about. In the absence of your ability to quote anyone like that - which I’m pretty sure is absolute - then all that is present is your confusion. So how about just stopping such pretending?

@amwassil You seem to be all upset over this sentiment, but it’s nothing beyond basic reasonableness. We should all perhaps just slow down a bit, consider our words, and not state falsehoods.

I don’t see you quoting anybody to support your contentions about the people on this forum. Meanwhile, you are the one making false statements, and in your ‘mythic quest’ you’re the one willing to mischaracterize CICO, i.e.

That’s not true. True is better than not true.

Copying and pasting a bunch of links isn’t what makes one credible.

(Ideom) #203

For some people. The question is for what percentage. Somewhere (I just searched for it and can’t find it) Dr. Fung talks about the long term success rate of Jenny Craig, I believe. Using Craig’s own figures, it was only 0.5% of people who had lost weight and kept it off for two years.

WW may be different, but surely there is some similarity. They claim good results after 6 months, and they claim it’s been studied. But I’m guessing there is a lot of ‘repeat business’ and people for whom it really doesn’t work out.

(Bunny) #204

I know some people have health issues, alleles or meds that may prevent weight loss but weight watchers nor Jenny C have timing restriction (not forced) eating windows or restricting elements of the diet but I think they definitely have the right idea, it just needs some tweaking.

That’s why I like these cartoons, just imagine if this was food being digested and processed by the body instead of electrical current:

image image image image image

Amperage is my favorite!

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #205

The misunderstanding that continues to be repeated in the expression “a calorie is a calorie” appears to be exclusive reference to the first law of thermodynamics. The difficulty with this theoretical approach is that it is only part of the relevant physics and its relationship to biologic systems. The first law says that in any transformation the total energy in the system can be accounted for by the heat added to the system, the work done by the system on its environment and the change in energy content of all the components of the system. It is important to understand, however, that the first law does not say what the relative distribution between these effects will be for any process. In fact, the first law does not even allow us to say whether the process will occur at all. To understand the progress of a physical change it is necessary to understand the second law which introduces an entity known as the entropy, S, a measure of disorder in all processes. In all real (irreversible) processes, entropy increases, usually written ΔS > 0. The most common marker of increasing entropy is heat, although it is by no means the only evidence for increased entropy.

(Ideom) #206

Don’t forget a fat-tissue battery to store some of that juice. But yes, the electrochemical basis of life is never far from us. Every living cell does its thing that way, and the brain is an electrochemical device that makes brainwaves.

I’d say it’s really people that need tweaking. For the timing of eating or the frequency of it, maybe that fixes things, maybe it doesn’t. If we’re talking about being “fat” or not, most of the world’s people are still okay, 60+% are not overweight, 87% are not obese - most people are doing all right whether they think about the energy balance or not.

(Leroy) #207

I think it’s mathematical set theory at work, and that people start manifesting “facts” outside their realm of prevalence. Most people in the world do just fine with CICO, for example - they don’t even have to think about it. :wink:

Humans have been around for a long time. It’s only in the last 0.1% or so of our existence (after the Industrial Revolution gave us farming machines) that diseases relating to too much food have really taken off. Time itself has cordoned off us latecoming people into a relatively very small subset - imagine a significant amount of the population among ‘common women and men’ needing to worry not about too little of something but about ‘too much.’

(Doug) #208

We’re our own worst enemy.

(Bunny) #209

Exactly because if you can add and subtract a whole bunch of nothing it really does not matter anyways because jumbling numbers around thinking it means something when it is not real?

Take the Weir’s formula for example:

REE (kcal/day) = VO2 (3.941) + VCO2 (1.11)

  • VO2 = Oxygen burned
  • VCO2= Carbon dioxide burned

15 litres of carbon dioxide exhaled = 94 calories of energy burned.

But where would you find a machine that could do such wonderful things this accurately for individual metabalomes? You most certainly won’t find it on an app or simply counting calories with your fingers?

How do you know who exhaled 15 liters of CO2?

Here Richard demonstrates different fuels have different out-puts ratios.

image link

“…More specifically, it could be said that fat burns in an oxaloacetate flame but, since you’re unable to replenish your oxaloacetate from glucose, then your internal metabolic conditions favour the formation of ketones (or ketone bodies) for energy (ATP) production. …” …More


Glucose===>Pyruvate===>Oxaloacetate Flame===>Enters the TCA cycle===>CO2-in-CO2-out===>Acetyl-CoA===>B-Oxidation===>Burns/Oxidizes Fatty Acids into ===>a Ketone Body…

IMG_3330image link

Carbohydrates need to be broken down evenly with Dietary or Body Fat?

The Citric Acid Cycle has to work synergistically with the TCA cycle?

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #210

Fats burn in a carbohydrate flame? Sometimes, but it’s a very big and complex fire so that’s only a partial explanation. Fats also burn in lots of other ways that don’t involve carbohydrates or result in synthesis of carbohydrates. Yes, carbs from fat. As Eades says, it doesn’t make evolutionary sense that most of our stored energy is fat and that we can’t access it without first eating carbs. Humans would have gone extinct long ago if that were true. @atomicspacebunny I think you will find much food for thought:

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #211

(Art) #212

It’s decidedly not “nothing.”

(Ellenor Bjornsdottir) #213

the most weight you have directly gained is 20 grams.

At will, no. Changeable heat, yes.

No it is not. It is false that this is the exclusive source of energy for the brain, but it is completely true that this gluconeogenesis is used as an energy source for, among other organs, the brain.

It’s 3:44 AM. What am I doing necroing a thread?

(Gregory - You can teach an old dog new tricks.) #214

Thanks for correcting me… I must have mis-interpreted what I was looking at…

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #215

She corrected Bunny’s statement, not yours.

(Doug) #216

In a couple years I’m going to come back to this thread and ask, “What is necroing?” :stuck_out_tongue:

I think there are both “yes” and “no” answers, and that once again there are larger contexts that apply.

Bunny copied and pasted that from a brief and somewhat general website, seven paragraphs below where it says, “simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed by the gut and enter the bloodstream very quickly. Candy bars are a great example! If you need a quick boost of energy unwrap a Snickers®!”

So, at the very least other things come to mind. :upside_down_face:

We can agree that the body can use protein to make glucose, but when does it do it, and to what extent?

George Cahill, in the 1960s and 1970s, found that protein consumption and loss really “fell off a cliff” after just a few days in fasting humans - as I recall it quickly declined to around 15 grams per day. This may include some very small amounts used both for glucose/energy production and consequent to losses - the body is not perfectly able to recycle 100% of protein breakdown products. So we are losing some protein every day, just not very much at all.

Cahill held that ‘normal weight’ individuals (which in those days was already fairly lean) could fast for 2 months or so before things got dangerous, i.e. potentially mortal (obese people could, of course, go much longer). It was only during the latter part of this period where protein consumption substantially increased.

Studies of other mammals - dogs, rats, mice, etc., show this phenomenon. Beginning from a normal weight, it’s not until prolonged fasting has been done, and body weight has decreased by 35% or more, that protein use goes back up. At that point fat reserves are just about gone, and it’s “use protein or die.”