A Calorie is Not A Calorie - A Discussion of Thermodynamics

(Bunny) #82

Discarded protein has to be catabolized through gluconeogenesis to be oxidized just like fat, dietary or adipose and into CO2, in the out going respiration?

(Gregory - You can teach an old dog new tricks.) #83

Your reference is all about fat. Nothing about protein …

(Hagen) #84

You’re just trolling. I wondered about you being a non-native English speaker, etc., but this is clearly not what’s responsible for your silly replies. You know @OldDog is correct and you know that liquid droplets in fat cells are not mostly protein. You just “say stuff” and copy and paste without any regard to the truth or the discussion at hand.

(Gregory - You can teach an old dog new tricks.) #85

It sure does.

Don’t stop now.

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #86

I believe that what @atomicspacebunny was referring to is the process of gluconeogenesis, in which the liver deaminates amino acids and turns the remnants into glucose. Glucose can also be made from fatty acids, of course, but gluconeogenesis generally uses protein as the substrate.

Gluconeogenesis is stimulated by glucagon and inhibited by insulin, so it generally occurs only when carbohydrate intake is sufficiently low to make it necessary.

(Bunny) #87

If you insist!

What matters about matter is how much you eat of it.

Portion size <===and timing <===is the secret?

You eat too much meat you will get fat?

You too much fat you will get fat?

You eat too much sugar you will get fat?

So simple a caveman can do it?

(Ideom) #88

Heck yes. We’re all free to disagree all over the place, but pretense seems to be overwhelmingly creeping in, here.

Thanks. I was most immediately talking about the idea that we can’t measure energy accurately, and that this pretense morphs into denying the existence of a fairly complete, sensible scientific explanation. While there’s much to yet be learned, why deny what we do know already?

And does this lead to assuming we can’t make glucose from fat, and that our fat tissue or the lipid droplets in the fat cells are mostly protein, or that the lipid droplet surrounds fat cells rather than being inside, in the center of them? :roll_eyes: Sheesh!

Speaking of pretense… It’s indeed proper to look at RCTs. Yet we also see people beginning with pretenses, and when the evidence disproves or at least casts severe doubt on the pretenses, they sometimes just ignore the evidence and walk away.

Much of this discussion is about basic science and how well we can measure things, energywise.

Right there’s a study. You were obviously going with the pretense that we can’t measure things well enough and that the overall consideration of energy, weight and metabolism won’t work out. Yet that study had things work out surprisingly well, with more accuracy than anybody should have issues with, and it presented a picture complete enough that it should satisfy very well on a general rational basis.

The results didn’t go well with your pretense, and at that point you wanted to drop it like a hot potato and walk away, ignoring it entirely. And YOU were the one who posted the RCT… Sheesh!

(Hagen) #89

This looks like just jumbling up a bunch of words and putting them together. The lipid droplets surround the adipocyte?

(Bunny) #90

Your welcome for my effort at an explanation it is kind of a more recent description of something not well explained or explored, I’m sure you’ll find some better ”jumbling“ else where?

A thousand apologies for not meeting your expectations of perfection!

(Elmo) #91

@PaulL Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful post. :clap:

You may be right. I should read the whole thing, carefully, at least a couple times.

No - CICO is two quantities, not any statement of necessary equality. Look how many times ‘CICO’ comes up on this forum. :smile: But nobody is saying that all calories are exactly the same, with nothing more to be considered. Why CICO comes up on this forum is because of the question of what the energy balance is, and if it matters.

Their advertising does try to imply that 140 or 100 calories and the like isn’t anything to worry about. But if you really pressed the Coke executives, even the advertising ones, they’re not going to say there’s no difference at all between the macronutrients, or that a person could live forever on Coke. And that’s not the issue here.

Definitely, as several people have talked about in this thread, alone.

Everybody should know intuitively that the laws of conservation of energy and matter will be satisfied. The ‘First Law’ talk usually includes stuff about a closed or not closed system. While you can make some observations peculiar to a closed system, that really has nothing to do with human digestion and metabolism obeying physical laws - they do that anyway.

It usually comes up with ‘anti-CICO’ people pretending that the human body not being a closed system means that physical laws somehow do not apply, which is of course false.

Interesting line of thought, and obviously it can be that way sometimes, and it makes sense (for example) that if we’re taking 1000 calories from fat storage (or the equivalent mass, if you prefer) then we probably won’t be as hungry or eat as much as if we weren’t doing that. But that doesn’t affect CICO. CICO is just the two quantities (plus what we can infer from them). Here’s 3 conditions:

Let’s say we’re talking about weight loss. We can start with Taubes’ hormonal effects/weight loss mode, and this leads to less on the “In” side (as a result). Or we can start with less on the “In” side (as the driver). Either way, as long as the condition is satisfied, i.e. CI < CO, then there’s weight loss. The direction of causality does not matter.

No argument - I will personally testify that hormonal effects are huge, even for adults. Low-carb -> fat-adaption -> less hunger and less often eating. Here too, CICO will change along with it.

I’d also say that while hormones are driving those teenage changes, enough food intake is necessary, as well. A kid isn’t going to gain mass unless there’s enough mass intake. And the body’s own energy accounting is always going on too - it’s not like hormones operate in a vacuum, i.e. the physical laws remain satisfied.

Okay, so evidently the ‘Out’ differed between the two (assuming the ‘In’ was the same).

As above, okay - and CICO reflects the dietary context. If dietary changes alter the ‘In’ & ‘Out’ quantities, no problem. The only thing in that paragraph that I might disagree with is “the body tends to hold on to its fat stores until fairly late in the process of starvation” - I’d say it holds onto most lean tissue there . While there is individual variation, it’s generally true that the more fat we have, the higher the percentage of fat versus non-fat mass we’ll lose with weight loss.

(Elmo) #92

Separate post for this since it was getting so long. I’m with you all the way through, there, but again it doesn’t work against CICO. Keto diet, less insulin, part of the ‘In’ coming from our fat stores - all good. Protein & fat meaning less hunger than from eating carbs, ‘In’ changes, sure, and the ‘Out’ as well if we include the higher energy cost of digesting protein. That we know more now about science than we used to doesn’t change anything - the same physical laws are in operation.

Back to the reason that ‘CICO’ comes up for argument so often on the forum - the energy balance. And it’s really the same if we change it to mass. How about “a gram is a gram”? :stuck_out_tongue: We all know that’s not the real deal, just the same. (Or even if we change it to ‘gram/energy equivalent’ or otherwise adjust for macronutrient differences.)

With only CICO, we know the In and Out, and we can figure weight gain/loss, including fat storage or usage, pretty close. And that’s really it. There isn’t much else, or is it that there’s nothing else? Metabolization, storage, waste. What else is there? All the ‘In’ goes to those three, right? If anybody doubts this - and it does seem to come up with amazing frequency, then they can never answer the question about where else stuff goes, or if the numbers aren’t going to add up, then what happens to the missing or extra numbers. We are talking about actual, real, physical matter here, after all - right down to the atomic level.

On a practical basis, we know that increased ‘In’ can and often does lead to increased metabolism and weight gain. Anti-CICO debaters usually have no problem pointing out energy change on the ‘Out’ side, i.e. carbs -> higher insulin -> more fat storage -> lower metabolism. Yet there’s sometimes a logical disconnect that prevents similar observations about the ‘In’ side.

The 3500 calories/lb thing comes up a lot. Humor me for the rest of this post. Doesn’t it make sense that 3500, even if not perfect, is going to be a lot closer than is 0 or 7000, for example? How about a practical examination of the theory?

@ctviggen’s posted study - Check out my comment I made at KetoCon2019

Going with CICO, we would predict that increased caloric intake would result in some combination of weight gain and metabolism. The study subjects were fed varying percentages of protein, and did gain different amounts of weight. The metabolisms also went up, again by different amounts. Yet in all three cases, when the increased metabolism/energy expenditure was combined with the weight gain, everything did come together remarkably well.

In the end, I’d ask what people think is happening, if CICO does not apply. Don’t Dr. Fung’s two compartments make sense - stuff going to either metabolism or storage? This certainly pretty well has things covered. We can hone it a little if we include excretion, but even without it we’ll still be so close that it almost never matters.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #93

Following is a link to 36 citations regarding the subject of this topic. Based on the several I’ve already read, I think you will find wide support for the common concept of CICO and CICO diet/weight management as understood by most of the folks on this forum, including myself. That understanding is that CICO deals almost exclusively with calories in and calories out eating to a caloric deficit and that any effects due to different macronutirents having a ‘metabolic advantage’ as defined by Feinman and Fine is minimal and useless.

This is about as far as they’re willing to go:


But this is where they’re really at:

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #94

Unfortunately, the full text of this is behind a subscription/paywall. Maybe someone knows how to find it otherwise?


Despite intensive research, the causes of the obesity epidemic remain incompletely understood and conventional calorie-restricted diets continue to lack long-term efficacy. According to the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM) of obesity, recent increases in the consumption of processed, high–glycemic-load carbohydrates produce hormonal changes that promote calorie deposition in adipose tissue, exacerbate hunger, and lower energy expenditure. Basic and genetic research provides mechanistic evidence in support of the CIM. In animals, dietary composition has been clearly demonstrated to affect metabolism and body composition, independently of calorie intake, consistent with CIM predictions. Meta-analyses of behavioral trials report greater weight loss with reduced-glycemic load vs low-fat diets, though these studies characteristically suffer from poor long-term compliance. Feeding studies have lacked the rigor and duration to test the CIM, but the longest such studies tend to show metabolic advantages for low-glycemic load vs low-fat diets. Beyond the type and amount of carbohydrate consumed, the CIM provides a conceptual framework for understanding how many dietary and nondietary exposures might alter hormones, metabolism, and adipocyte biology in ways that could predispose to obesity. Pending definitive studies, the principles of a low-glycemic load diet offer a practical alternative to the conventional focus on dietary fat and calorie restriction.


Even if calories required can be measured precisely in a research paper. Can we measure our own required calories daily without stressing ourselves out with precise measurements?

Seems like a lot of useless research papers and the wasted money/time to complete them. What’s missing to satisfy humans which can’t be obtained from food?

(Bunny) #96

Maybe not having an overall picture of how a entire system really works, like is it an open system (is mass and energy leaving the system?) or a closed system (expansion and contraction?) then density (solidity), volume (capacitance) and thermal conductance (amount of heat required until sublimation).

Formula: p=m/V, or density § is equal to mass (m) divided by volume etc. (grapes to raisins)

Containment parameters, rate of flow etc.

So how much activity can happen within a given amount of space when you place a piece of mass into it, as matter can exist in three different states solid, liquid, gas (pure substances-mixtures-elements-compounds (molecules), homogenous-hetrohomogenous etc.

How long would it take for this volume and mixture of calories to turn from a solid==>liquid then into a gas? Time?

(Leroy) #97

:slightly_smiling_face: World peace?

That’s a pretty broad question. When this thread began, I thought

You’re not required to do anything - you don’t have to measure or read research papers or care. That doesn’t mean there’s not an underlying scientific reality at work. It’s that way for all of us.

We can say, “Ooh, pretty rainbow :heart::rainbow:,” or we can say, “That’s pretty how the light refracts like that.” Or we can take all the emotion out of it. “Light is being refracted and reflected.”

It depends what “satisfy” means. Doesn’t that involve desire? We may want to get rid of hunger, or we may crave a scientific explanation, or even just “the answer,” among an unlimited number of things.

There is a continuum, and along it we differing people will want different things and make different assumptions. Yet at a very primal level or “at the beginning of it,” we are physical beings; we are all the same in some respects.

(Doug) #98

We’re still not like a star or a nuclear bomb. :upside_down_face: Agreed that our fat tissue has a higher density than that of ‘fat’ - because of the water (mostly) in the cytoplasm of adipocytes. And before anybody loses their mind, that’s actual ‘density,’ not energy or caloric density - with the latter, things are reversed, i.e. there are more calories in a given volume or weight of fat than for the fat cell as a whole.

Yeah, the body almost never burns protein, alone. But it certainly will do it if there’s nothing else; better than dying. Other than real starvation, there’s a mix of fat and protein consumption that occurs, with some of the protein being recycled. For the generalized “really fat person,” they’re going to be burning almost entirely fat and just a very little protein. With some of it being recycled, the net protein loss will be extremely small, versus fat loss.

As we get leaner, the percentage of protein loss increases. This is all well-known, right?

(Art) #99

We’re definitely not closed systems - we’re inhaling and exhaling all the time, for just one example. It’s greatly related to metabolism and can be to transient weight/mass changes. How do you ever get away from that? If one cares about having a complete picture, that has to be taken into account.

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #100

I’m not sure about this particular point, Doug. Not saying it’s wrong, just that I haven’t heard it. Phinney says that as we get leaner, we need to compensate for no longer having extra stored fat, by increasing the amount of fat we eat, and that as long as we keep eating fat to satiety, that increase is automatic.

As far as protein is concerned, Bikman says that it is harder to prevent lean-tissue loss as we age, and harder to assimilate protein to make new lean tissue, but that is an issue of aging, not fat-loss, as I understand it.

(Bunny) #101

Very small amounts, the ones who eat more die faster?

Small stature good, not ‘deformed,’’ no excessive growth hormone? And as far as being hunched over, probably not so good if your hunched over and have diabetes? …lol