What do you think of a new nutrition benchmark: fat-gain-tendency per calorie?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 09, 2011 at 12:50 AM

It is pretty obvious that eating 2000 calories of steak likely will not make you gain as much weight as 2000 calories of apple juice (God forbid...that must be around 400-500 grams of sugar). I think it'd be interesting for scientists to look into a new metric to measure the tendency for a certain type of food to be stored as fat in the body. It'd be different from the glycemic index since, for example, olive oil and coconut oil are both low glycemic, but they have different effects in the body. What do you guys think? Would it be too hard to measure or would person-to-person variability mess up the data? I feel it'd be ambitious, but it may revolutionize dietary science.

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6 Answers

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on September 09, 2011
at 12:56 AM

We're going to have to eventually admit that long-chain fatty acids get stored readily in adipocytes and that the body would obviously take advantage of such an efficient pathway. I agree that calories in/out is a crude metric and that we need to talk about triglyceride synthesis/hydrolysis.



on September 09, 2011
at 12:56 AM

Your comparison between foods is not obvious to me. OTOH, 2000 calories of apple juice would probably have me reaching for more food a few hours later and the second meal might have me putting on weight. People already have access to glucose meters which can help them ascertain which foods are problematic for them personally. The problem with something like the glycemic index is that there is such variation between people. Then again, it would be nice if there was a metric that actually worked, and couldn't be swayed by politics.



on September 09, 2011
at 11:51 AM

This question depends on a ton of factors. I would personally gain very little if any fat drinking 2k cals of apple juice, others probably wouldn't gain much either if they don't overeat, the problem is that most would overeat with the juice.

A calorie is a calorie for the most part(except in the case of a few novel foods). Whether or not something makes you gain depends entirely on your personal body chemistry.


on September 09, 2011
at 01:45 AM

2,000 calories of sugar vs. 2,000 calories of protein/fat impact you now and it impacts you later, in terms of how you process food in the future.

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on September 09, 2011
at 01:52 PM

It's not obvious to me that 2000 calories of steak is different from the apple juice. Calories are a metabolic effect. Satiation is something else...2000 calories of steak would make me feel full, but it might take 4000 calories of apple juice to get the equivalent hunger satisfaction.

Glycemic load and index are mostly useful for diabetics. Avoiding the high glycemics knocks out starchy and sugary processed foods. But the method breaks down when fat and carbs are mixed, causing French fries and candy bars to look healthier (glycemic-wise) than a baked potato. Mechanistically I view blood glucose as a delivery system that very effectively puts bloodstream fatty acids into adipose fat storage. In this sense the fries and candy bars are much worse foods than high GI potatoes.



on September 09, 2011
at 12:18 PM

Nutrition Data has a feature similar to this idea; different foods are rated on a per-serving/calorie basis, as to whether they are best for weight loss, weight gain or optimal health, including ratings for how filling and how nutritious the food is, and a short explanation as to why.

Of course the whole system is based on conventional wisdom, so a hard-boiled egg is rated about as effective for weight loss and general health as a bagel, although interestingly the bagel is noted as being twice as inflammatory as the egg. Nutrition Data also rates the egg as being more filling but the bagel as being more nutrient-dense.



A Paleo version of this sort of feature would be fascinating, even if I imagine things getting complicated on controversial subjects like dairy.

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