(Bacon is the new bacon) #61

Not sure what your point is, unless you mean that Keys’ definition of starvation was a 1500-calorie diet.

CICO is shorthand for the notion that every calorie affects the body equally, as Coca-Cola insists. As Taubes points out, it is not that the First Law of Thermodynamics is untrue, but that the causality runs in the opposite direction from how it is commonly assumed. No one, after all, would claim that a growing child achieves an adult body because he or she eats “too much.” We all know that the pubertal growth spurt is determined by hormones.


I want to add something tangentially related here:

I work in education and some recent research suggests that argumentation is an effective pathway towards learning. So I love how this thread is turning out. We’re all learning from this discussion :slight_smile:

(Doug) #63

Well said, Andesite! I think such things take us down the river of logic, or upstream against it, and at times even penetrate to the unprovable assumptions we all make.


I crack up every time I see Jason Fung’s acronym: Calorie Restriction as Primary, or CRaP.

(Doug) #65

Paul, just as I said in the sentence immediately before that:

Not as I’ve been using it, and not in the context of this thread. (Seriously, Paul - I’ve been bending over backwards, trying to make sure that every sentence is true, properly qualified, etc.) Moreover, as you stated it, Coca-Cola is sometimes correct.

How about if we say that different types of calories - fats, proteins and carbohydrates - don’t necessarily affect the body the same way?

Or, we can certainly agree that calorie restriction, per se, has proven a woefully poor method for people to lose weight. I bet at least 99% of the people on this forum feel that way, and would agree - and if somebody would make blanket statements to the contrary, I’d argue against them as strongly as anybody.

The failure of this weight loss regimen is not due to any necessary falsehood in its construction, however - hey, it all does come down to a few types of atoms in the end, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and maybe we throw in nitrogen for the protein component of things. That’s really about it, as far as our weight loss or gain - those 4 elements are over 96% of our mass, and they overwhelmingly comprise our macro nutrients and essentially form the sustrates and the reactants in our metabolism. (Sure - there are some metals, minerals and trace minerals that also figure in, and even without which we’d be dead, but they are small players, as far as mass, compared to the “big 4.”)

Again - I’m looking for stuff that is always true, or things that are qualified properly so as to be true as stated. The failure of calorie-restriction as a weight-loss scheme is because people can’t maintain it - they end up denying the premise, i.e. they don’t keep a negative energy balance.

I think Chris Masterjohn, for one example, makes undeniable points about our energy balance and how it affects us. I also think it’s common sense - if we use up/burn/metabolize and excrete more than we take in, then we will lose weight - as simple as that. If we do not; if we take in more than we get rid of, then we will gain weight. This isn’t advocating any certain weight loss gain or plan - that comes later.

Long post already - I will watch the video. On the First Law - we’ve talked about it before. I know the human body is not a “closed system,” but that does not necessarily matter. That some things are necessarily true about a closed system does not preclude the possibility that they are also true of other systems under certain conditions. The basic In/Out calculus of the human body goes to that.

Sure, a growing child does not (necessarily) “eat too much.” Yet to say that the growth spurt is determined by hormones is missing some things, I think. I’d say the hormonal effects are necessary but not sufficient - there also has to be the intake of nutrients to allow for it. If the child is persistently in a negative energy balance, then they will be unable to gain weight.


I’ve read through this whole thread and love it! Thanks to everyone who has contributed. I really feel like there is so much info, especially with the back and forth, clarification, etc.

My understanding, in the most simplistic terms, from reading this is sort of like the analogy I have used with my husband. I have some ruptured disks in my back. When we run, if I hit a rock, that simple thing can throw my back/hamstring out of whack for weeks because my body is already damaged. He can just kick the rock to the side and keep running with no issues. The rock is still a rock. Nothing about our situation makes the ROCK (the calorie) different. But how our bodies respond to it are vastly different.

Thus, a calorie is a calorie, but depending on the condition of one’s body, it will have different effects, and eventual outcomes, on that body.

Am I understanding this (in VERY simple terms) correctly?

(Doug) #67

Well said, and I think “heck yes.” Probably the most frequent variable is one’s insulin level, which can send matter/energy/calories to storage rather than having them be available for metabolism, as well as block access to body fat to make up for energy shortfalls. If there is a ‘magic’ about ketogenic eating, it’s that it tends to make the insulin situation better.

(Doug) #68

I watched the whole video, Paul. How about if we say that the causality can run in the opposite direction?

I have very few disagreements with Taubes. Can be both malnourished and obese - no argument there.

There are genetic and hormonal effects that alter things. Yep, no debate from me.

Energy balance is a tautology. Okay, yeah - it’s self-evident and has to be true. We are talking about atoms going here and there, that’s really all that’s going on, and they don’t magically disappear or come into being.

Insulin is ‘the principal regulator of fat metabolism.’ Yes - as far as I’m concerned we know this to be true.

Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation (not energy balance, not over-eating, not sedentary behavior,) Gluttony and Sloth are compensatory efects; they are not causes.

Disagree, because of the way that’s stated. ‘Gluttony’ and ‘Sloth’ can be causes - almost anyone (barring something like Type 1 diabetes, for example) can begin eating an amount of food that’s great enough, and cut their energy expenditure enough - to the point that they will gain weight/fat.

In the case of higher insulin causing greater fat storage and lesser energy supply to tissues, then greater hunger and lower activity makes sense, without any moral shortcomings being assumed. No argument there; and this is a very common thing.

However, “not energy balance” does not apply. We are talking about the disposition of energy, after all. The balance is there - we now have more going to storage and less to metabolism. Intake, metabolism, storage, excretion - it’s all right there.

Energy intake and expenditure are going to change if you change storage. Fine, again - no argument from me. I would say that, hey - the energy balance here is the point - we have changed the amount going to storage, which in this case means more is taken in. More goes into storage so less is available for metabolism in tissues. All good with me.

(Doug) #69

Mark, I went through the article today. In the end, I don’t think the author makes a case against calories - that’s really it.

Here, talk of “myth” and “bad idea” is at best overgeneralized, and from there it heads toward illogic. What we have going on is varying amounts of calories, or grams of our macronutrients, or — at the most basic level — atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen going into the body and being either metabolized, stored, or excreted. This is always the case, no matter what — as long as we’re alive.

This is not to say that all calories are necessarily always the same, with respect to human nutrition and metabolism. In the case of insulin resistance/high insulin levels, for example, the body will be more in ‘fat storage’ mode, leaving less energy supplied to the tissues, meaning increased hunger and probable fat/weight gain. When this is the situation, then X calories of carbohydrates will not have the same effect versus the same amount of protein (the body having a lesser insulin response to protein) or versus fats (where the insulin response is down to around 1/20th as much as with carbohydrates).

At other times, they will be essentially the same, even if it’s a banana versus the calorically equivalent amount of candy, or a 10 oz/280g steak against 3 doughnuts.

Calories are really just the messenger — it’s them (or science itself) saying, “𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑖𝑠 ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔…”

The fact that the food industry often has aggressive or even unethical marketing tactics does not change the above. That undigestible fiber exists doesn’t, either. We still have intake, metabolism, storage or excretion. Some matter/energy/calories/atoms enter the body and leave it without being changed much, since we can’t digest it. Fine — it’s all part of the energy balance.

That we have various metabolic pathways and rates of digestion and absorption changes nothing. Pound food with a sledgehammer — fine, maybe then we absorb more of it. No indictment of calories, there, however — all we then have is more calories/grams/matter being absorbed than excreted.

Natural and unprocessed food is better for us — agreed. Protein and fat are more satisfying to us in general, than are carbohydrates — no argument. Don’t blame the messenger for these differences, though.

(bulkbiker) #70

I’m really now confused as to what you actually think after reading some of your responses above but I’m not really interested in arguing the toss for nothing so I’ll bow out of this conversation.

(Doug) #71

Fine, Mark. :slightly_smiling_face: I guess my bottom line is that I think most of the scorn directed at calories is missplaced - we could as well deride grams or ounces.

(Robert C) #72

Hi @OldDoug - seems your on a streak here!

Although this quote is true - it is still the “why” that is important.

100+ years ago, when obese people were very rare and food was whole - people’s metabolism followed what they ate. Eat more, metabolism went up, movement and temperature went up - more calories burned and (as the body likes) homeostasis was achieved. Eat less, metabolism went down, movement and temperature dropped - less calories burned and (again, as the body likes) homeostasis was achieved. (i.e. no weight gain or loss - except for kings and such with access to too much food)

Now, in this food environment - achieving homeostasis using the natural mechanism is just about impossible. Almost every new group of people that were converted to western eating became fat on processed foods. For the last 50 years - and even today by some - 6 smaller meals is the way to conquer obesity. Food is being engineered to addict and have long shelf life (rarely to better one’s health). Prices on unhealthy foods are very low. TV and the internet have mind bending campaigns to convince everyone to use the highest profit unhealthy products.

It is easy to say a calorie is a calorie or that energy is what matters but it is the why that matters.

A gram of fat or protein or carbohydrate was the same in 1919 as it is today - but, we have a lot higher percentage of obese people now. Greed, processed food, encouragement to eat excessively and low prices for anything including sugar and corn are more likely the reason we are where we are than the general public choosing to over eat over the past two generations (which is what the energy balance people are saying).

(Alec) #73

What the hell is a kola bear? One that’s hooked on fizzy soft drinks? :joy::joy:

(Carl Keller) #74

It’s closely related to the diet kola bear which is also not a bear. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Doug) #75

It’s Dmitri Petrov, a big hairy northwestern Russian guy from Murmansk. :wink:

(Alec) #76

This is not quite right. The insulin keeps coming but it fails to stuff the sugar into the fat cells efficiently leaving blood sugar high, and thus the pancreas keeps the insulin coming. You therefore have both BG and insulin high… bad.

Insulin resistance is a perfect description for what is happening.

Re IF vs TRE, IF has always to me been a fast for more than a day. I never understood why IF was used for missing the odd meal during the day. TRE for OMAD or TMAD, but IF for fasting longer than 36 hrs.

(Doug) #77

Robert, probably some people “cursing a blue streak” at me… :stuck_out_tongue:

Totally agree that maintaining homeostasis is much harder with modern processed food.

I think I must end up talking past those who disagree with me, and/or vice-versa. Perhaps it’s just looking at things in different ways with no way to reconcile them…

In this modern environment, especially with easy-to-get processed carbohydrates, I’d state that “many small meals” is a horrible way to try to lose weight. I’ve never flatly said that “a calorie is a calorie,” just like that, and I think that all the way down the line - taking every item you mentioned - there’s nothing really about “calories” there, nothing that says the energy balance doesn’t always apply.

The “why” - I’ve never disagreed about the effects of insulin and current, westernized diets. It’s like with the above article - going through your post, I agree that obesity is a modern epidemic, that food processors, marketers and sellers often don’t have our best interests at heart, that processed food usually sacrifices nutritive value for shelf life, that the cheapness of much of the “bad stuff” works against us, that refined and added sugars are out-of-control among most of our available food choices, etc.

Yet nothing in all that addresses the importance of energy balance or the reality of atoms/grams/calories of this and that going here and there.

It doesn’t matter if we blame corporate greed, bad govermental or quasi-governmental advice, an ossified medical establishment, or the public choosing to overeat - in the end it’s all the same (the energy balance, such as it is, case by case, is there). Your “why” does explain why Joe Blow is fat while his ancestor might not have been, and why person A is this way now, while person B is different. On this forum, we almost never even see disagreement with the varied thesis behind it.

Yet it seems that I’m taken as denying it, and that’s somewhat puzzling.

I’d agree as much as anybody that “counting calories,” per se, and general prescriptions to “eat less and move more” for weight loss are fraught with peril and a poor likelihood of success. Yet that does not mean that "calories are BS" or “mythical” or “worthless” – or that we can ever escape the energy balance and its considerations.

I see criticisms of the basic, assumed “CICO” or calories in/calories out (and the usually-attached overly-simplistic or erroneous assumptions) as valid - since it does not work well, given most people’s nature. This is not the fault of CICO, though - it’s just because people find it so hard to maintain the 'In" being less than the “Out.” If things were different, if the negative energy balance could be maintained, it’d work great.

I think the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis is almost universally accepted, across this forum. When most of us do lose weight, it’s usually because we’ve addressed high insulin/insulin resistance, and at that point we have a negative energy balance, looking at intake versus metabolism and excretion. The shortfall is mostly made up from our fat stores, and this is why we lose weight.

A separate case is the origin of hormonal dysfunction, when we screw up homeostasis in the first place. I don’t claim to know it all, here, and it’s a question - what kicks off obesity? What comes first, high insulin or insulin resistance? (My opinion - one takes little baby steps, going higher, and the other quickly joins in and they’re hand-in-hand after that.)

I do think there are good arguments for it being as simple as “eating too much,” in many cases - that this is what makes for the change with respect to insulin, fat accumulation in the liver, etc. We need to be homeostatic - we need fairly equal amounts of drawing down glycogen storage and replenishment, rather than having it being topped-off almost all the time.

(Robert C) #78

@OldDoug - I think it boils down to this.

Calories matter (a lot) on SAD and most other regular diets (but cutting them leads to problems).

Calories matter (much less) on Keto because of the intentional hormone manipulation (which is done with the intent of making calories matter less so some people don’t even monitor them - no need to cut).

The amount of calories will always matter - if you are a great cook and always make yourself highly-palatable meals and snacks then - “fat to satiety” could keep your weight going up no matter how good your Keto ratios are.

But, for the successful ones here - they have managed to wrangle their hormones, keep their metabolisms up and eat in a satiating way - without focusing on the amount of calories.

(Doug) #79

Pretty much agree there, Robert. :slightly_smiling_face: :+1:


I’d like to see a study that compares how many times a day people on the SAD eat, and how much they weigh. I’m curious how much of our obesity problem is from just the SAD, and how much of the problem is the result in this notion that we should be snacking between meals.