Why the Calorie is Broken


(G. Andrew Duthie) #1

Sadly, this doesn’t really address keto/low-carb, nor does it acknowledge the role that hormones play in how we metabolize foods. And given the outsize impact that has on what our bodies do with what we eat, one would hope they’d recognize the hormonal aspect (particularly insulin).

But it’s still an interesting read in the sense that even in the absence of a discussion of hormones, it largely blows up the notion that CICO (calories in, calories out) could ever be a useful tool for weight loss, because of the wide variance in how many calories our bodies are able to obtain from foods, depending on a range of factors from how the food is cooked or prepared, to our gut biomes.

It’s a good reminder that things are far more complex than the simple “eat less, move more” mantra would have us believe.


Can someone tell me if my thoughts are correct on CICO
(What The Fast?!) #2

Whoa!!! This is a FANTASTIC article! For me, it answers a lot of questions about why some people can get great results with IIFYM or low calorie diets, but I never did.

I wonder about the gut microbes - that part is very interesting and I hope they continue to study and bring more information to light about that. Also, the raw vs cooked food component!

I love this article, even though it doesn’t contain all the answers, because it highlights how the system is broken.

(Crow T. Robot) #3

AKA “cooties”? :grinning:

(What The Fast?!) #4

Hahahhaha gut microbes!!! Edited to fix :slight_smile:

("Everybody's coming home for lunch these days" -- CVB) #5

I finally read this excellent survey on the problematic nature of calories and how it helps or hurts people towards making dietary decisions. It is a most excellent article. Thanks for the reference. I disagree on “sadly,” since I’d say that, in essence, it supports rather than refutes the principles we adhere to.

Sure, this would have been nice but it doesn’t negate what they discuss.

It sure does. I found this fascinating if scatological setup regarding CICO:

Wilbur Atwater, a Department of Agriculture scientist, began by measuring the calories contained in more than 4,000 foods. Then he fed those foods to volunteers and collected their faeces, which he incinerated in a bomb calorimeter.

After subtracting the energy measured in the faeces from that in the food, he arrived at the Atwater values, numbers that represent the available energy in each gram of protein, carbohydrate and fat.

These century-old figures remain the basis for today’s standards. When Baer wants to know the calories per gram figure for that night’s meatloaf, he corrects the bomb calorimeter results using Atwater values.

Atwater died in 1907. I’m guessing we have a more comprehensive understanding of the release of energy from foods in the past 110 years. Oh, wait, apparently not? That’s just plain nuts.