3

votes

Interesting article about calories

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 26, 2012 at 1:58 AM

Colpo's blog had a link to this article today:

http://www.coreconceptswellness.com/blog/the-sensible-middle-part-1-in-defence-of-calories

I find the article well written and sensible. It doesn't bash low carb or high carb or paleo but merely points out that for weightloss the best diet is the diet that gets you into a caloric deficit; if that's LC good for you.

I thought new folk to this blog that might've read or heard that calories don't matter or aren't important would benefit from reading it.

Do you find the article sensible?

Do you question paleo as your diet of choice, if fat loss is your goal?

Did you enjoy reading the article?

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 26, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Arguments like this, that look at things from different angles, are important. Even if it's all a numbers game, when we're dealing with free-living people (and all their emotions, mommy issues, taste preferences, and whatever else influences eating behavior), we have to look at what strategies *help* those numbers come back into balance, and for a fair # of people (but not all), lowER carb, higher fat, and moderate protein, does just that. We can look at biochem textbooks and bomb calorimeters, but at some point we have to mesh that with how *real people* behave.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 26, 2012
at 07:30 PM

I'm sorry I could only upvote this once. Good. sensible argument, Michael.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 06:26 PM

I agree with you Raise. Totally. LC does indeed bring people into a caloric deficit.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 26, 2012
at 03:26 PM

A calorie is not necessarily a calorie and yet they can still count. A calorie of carbs is not dealt with by the body the same way a calorie of protein is, yet eating too many (or too few) will result in weight change. I see it as two different arguments.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:57 PM

I find the biggest problem with a calorie is not a calorie is that it encourages over eating in high fat calorie dense foods. I personally can handle a half pound of bacon in my broccoli, with a pound of pulled pork on the side. Most people trying to lose weight can't. Its a ton of freaking calories.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:55 PM

Agreed...I see people on here saying to just stop watching what you eat, and load on the fat and oil. For most people that won't work.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:53 PM

If we could just take everyone that wants to lose weight and put them in a Ward, the obesity epidimic would be solved. We can't, and many people find eating less processed foods, and limiting their carbs will help them to get into a calorie deficit.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:51 PM

Nice article and a lot of sound principles. I think the people that are the most metabolically injured do find it easier to control hunger and cravings on a LC diet, but it does come down to total calories.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:26 PM

@michael, nice post. I'd say though that you're conflating two wholly separate issues: one is biological (eating too much food makes one fat) and one is the question of why a person would eat more. Those are two wholly different topics for discussion. My issue (and many others') is that Taubes makes a mess of the first topic in trying to address the second. This is precisely why ward studies (every single one of which has debunked LC) are so important. They show every human being how to lose weight. Whether someone can and/or will choose to eat less is a whole nother issue.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:23 PM

I only wish more people had your sensible view.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:23 PM

I'm glad to see articles like his, too. But unfortunately I don't think this measured view is making the rounds. Conversely, I think you're seeing articles like that precisely because Taubes' and taubes'type arguments are actually gaining ground in the mainstream! There are actually educated health professionals now recommending his books.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:21 PM

Taubes' point, given repeatedly through both his books and in many of his talks, is exactly that a calorie is not a calorie.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:18 PM

@david, we have no studies so we'll never know but I'd put my money on the majority of people in the US eating mostly protein when they go on some iteration of LC. You're prolly smart, educated, read a lot, etc but I'd think you represent a minority of LCers.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:25 AM

The LC=high protein line isn't at all convincing. Loads of LCers don't eat extra high protein. Personally I eat around 12.5-15% protein, which is less than you'd get eating solely wholegrain bread or lentils. Cutting carbs can easily decrease your protein intake: e.g. getting most of your calories from potato, rather than pure fat, will add 50g protein (~+50% of my intake) and definitely is not more satiating. (And lots of vegetables etc are more proteiny than potato).

Ef26f888ed248de197c37a4cb04ef4a7

(584)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:24 AM

The underlying cause of overeating is variable. I personally just liked the taste of food and enjoyed entertaining my palate with it. It was that simple, no underlying emotional issues or satiety problems, it just tasted yummy. Even when I was low carb I still gained a bunch of weight at one stage by indulging in high calorie low carb food thinking that as long as I kept my carbs low it was ok.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on July 26, 2012
at 03:29 AM

I liked this line: "But let’s be honest about why you are losing the weight – your dietary shift towards less carbs will invariably increase protein intake – which fills you up faster and hence you shove less food in your pie hole." Overall quite a nicely put case, although I still find the CICO model simplistic and hence often used inappropriately.

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8 Answers

6
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on July 26, 2012
at 07:01 AM

"My thesis then is that calories matter the MOST when it comes to fat loss and fat gain."

I have to get all Taubesian here and recall his statement that blaming obesity on overeating is like blaming alcoholism on overdrinking. Yes, of course. Yet asking overdrinkers to drink less is not an effective method of getting them to drink less. Instead, one has to tackle the underlying issues. Likewise, telling people to cut calories obviously works as long as they stick with it, but willpower for most people is a finite resource. Instead, one should cure what was causing them to overeat, after which calories will be cut automatically.

So when we paleos say to cut out grains, legumes and dairy and otherwise not worry about calories, what we really mean is that if one sticks to that style of eating then at some point the neuro-regulation of appetite is likely to right itself and one will end up eating the proper number of calories naturally, without effort. We postulate that we have a higher success rate than, say, Weight-Watchers over the very long term, because we reach the correct calorie count without willpower, calorie counting, etc. Of course there are plenty of people following paleo for whom that neuro-regulation is not completely fixed. Those people may well need to resort to calorie counting to get the food intake low (or high) enough. Others may have psychological issues that cause them to overeat, in which case those issues need to be dealt with.

Calories count, but paleo effectively deals with one of the major underlying causes of overeating. At least, that's the theory. And so to those who say "a calorie is a calorie", I have to agree, just as "a drink is a drink". Unfortunately telling people to eat or drink less is ineffective when the underlying cause is more subtle than recreational eating or drinking.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:53 PM

If we could just take everyone that wants to lose weight and put them in a Ward, the obesity epidimic would be solved. We can't, and many people find eating less processed foods, and limiting their carbs will help them to get into a calorie deficit.

Ef26f888ed248de197c37a4cb04ef4a7

(584)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:24 AM

The underlying cause of overeating is variable. I personally just liked the taste of food and enjoyed entertaining my palate with it. It was that simple, no underlying emotional issues or satiety problems, it just tasted yummy. Even when I was low carb I still gained a bunch of weight at one stage by indulging in high calorie low carb food thinking that as long as I kept my carbs low it was ok.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 06:26 PM

I agree with you Raise. Totally. LC does indeed bring people into a caloric deficit.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 26, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Arguments like this, that look at things from different angles, are important. Even if it's all a numbers game, when we're dealing with free-living people (and all their emotions, mommy issues, taste preferences, and whatever else influences eating behavior), we have to look at what strategies *help* those numbers come back into balance, and for a fair # of people (but not all), lowER carb, higher fat, and moderate protein, does just that. We can look at biochem textbooks and bomb calorimeters, but at some point we have to mesh that with how *real people* behave.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:26 PM

@michael, nice post. I'd say though that you're conflating two wholly separate issues: one is biological (eating too much food makes one fat) and one is the question of why a person would eat more. Those are two wholly different topics for discussion. My issue (and many others') is that Taubes makes a mess of the first topic in trying to address the second. This is precisely why ward studies (every single one of which has debunked LC) are so important. They show every human being how to lose weight. Whether someone can and/or will choose to eat less is a whole nother issue.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 26, 2012
at 07:30 PM

I'm sorry I could only upvote this once. Good. sensible argument, Michael.

3
Ee70ee808f748374744404a00e1c22ed

(1163)

on July 26, 2012
at 02:36 AM

Loved it. I think the stance that calories don't matter is completely silly. It's a unit of energy that you are putting into your body- of course it matters. I'm glad that this more measured view of things is making the rounds. As far as eating paleo/primal, I'm not in it for weight loss, or even maintenance; more the whole, non-toxic foods angle. Brad Pilon of Eat Stop Eat posted a similar article: http://bradpilon.com/weight-loss/confront-your-assumptions/

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:23 PM

I'm glad to see articles like his, too. But unfortunately I don't think this measured view is making the rounds. Conversely, I think you're seeing articles like that precisely because Taubes' and taubes'type arguments are actually gaining ground in the mainstream! There are actually educated health professionals now recommending his books.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:55 PM

Agreed...I see people on here saying to just stop watching what you eat, and load on the fat and oil. For most people that won't work.

3
6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on July 26, 2012
at 02:36 AM

The article is pretty good. If you read Colpo, it's not really anything new, just way, way less ranty! (although I do like Colpo and his rants).

The article seems well written and sensible. Although he does bash paleo a little, he does mention at the start that the best diet is on made up of real, whole foods, so not too far from paleo really.

I dont question paleo at all. This article does nothing to change this. It just reinforces that calories do matter.

I only have the smallest bit of abdomen weight to lose, probably around 2kg, and I know from personal experience that the only way to make a dent in it is with vigilant calorie watching.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:23 PM

I only wish more people had your sensible view.

1
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on July 26, 2012
at 04:18 AM

I don't consider myself to be skilled in critiquing, but I did note a few things about this blog. Seems like he is taking on both CW and Taubes here.

First, I don???t think anyone is questioning whether a calorie is a calorie.

Argument 1. Quality trumps Quantity ??? he states that he doesn???t disagree with this.

Argument 2. Gluttons and Sloths ??? I think Taubes point was that obesity is a metabolic problem rather than playing the blame game.

Argument 3. Fat people eat no more than skinny people ??? don???t know and the link doesn???t work.

Argument 4. Counting Calories doesn???t work ??? seemed to me that he was taking Polyquin out of context and I don???t think that Polyquin was advocating eating unlimited amounts and still lose weight. Also, link to study doesn???t work.

Argument 5. Calorie Counting is Obsessive, etc. ??? I don???t get this. It sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

Argument 6. Hormones drive fat gain ??? I think he is correct that the role of insulin is not that simple and how people deal with carbs can vary greatly depending on many variables. The last link on weight not wavering based on macro composition doesn???t seem to support his argument since the study cited said that low carb/high protein diets resulted in greater weight loss.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong here. I just don't think many people are arguing about calories not counting. BTW, not trying to lose weight. If anything, I need to gain (maybe eat more carbs?!). And I always find articles like this interesting to read. Thanks for posting it!

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 26, 2012
at 02:57 PM

I find the biggest problem with a calorie is not a calorie is that it encourages over eating in high fat calorie dense foods. I personally can handle a half pound of bacon in my broccoli, with a pound of pulled pork on the side. Most people trying to lose weight can't. Its a ton of freaking calories.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:21 PM

Taubes' point, given repeatedly through both his books and in many of his talks, is exactly that a calorie is not a calorie.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 26, 2012
at 03:26 PM

A calorie is not necessarily a calorie and yet they can still count. A calorie of carbs is not dealt with by the body the same way a calorie of protein is, yet eating too many (or too few) will result in weight change. I see it as two different arguments.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on July 26, 2012
at 02:30 PM

I like it OK, but I feel that it glosses over the most important aspects of the debate and completely ignores health and physiology. It's all about weight.....sure thats easy.

But, in this vein I like Peter's take better http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/do-calories-matter

0
Ef26f888ed248de197c37a4cb04ef4a7

on July 26, 2012
at 11:09 AM

Calories are completely irrelevant to me. If you follow a strict ketogenic diet you can eat all the calories you want if you stick to the low carb creams, butter, full fat dressings (minus the sugary additives), mayo and nitrate free bacon.

As long as you keep your carbs under 20g you'll be fine.

(disclaimer: The only downside is that you'll get really fat.)

Seriously, I agree with gary taubes. If CICO was true and people had to control calories to such a small degree each day/week/month then people would gain weight easily over the course of a decade. It's a ludicrous theory. If it was actually true then over half the people in America would be overweight. oh wait, they are..

0
1557d441237cf92922354d82009da11e

on July 26, 2012
at 07:08 AM

I must say it is very informative article. This will be very helpful to know about calories & anti-calories sentiment. I never look at the calories of the food but I take Appetite Suppressant for weight loss.

0
46f6b440a524a0af9e24501ae72bea77

on July 26, 2012
at 02:53 AM

I was under the assumption that the theory of not caring about how many calories you eat during paleo/primal was for initial first month "detox" from SAD and not a standard for paleo/primal. Just my two cents.

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