5

votes

Im a noob here and need to know the truth about calories in vs. calories out: myth or fact?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 27, 2011 at 1:48 AM

My first question is: Since i started losing weight, i made the choice to focus on natural foods because it seemed like common sense that nutrition and weight loss would go hand in hand. Only im not quite paleo because i do eat beans and whole grains regularly. From what i understand the main reason paleo dieters do not eat whole grains and legumes is because cave men didnt farm then, so therefore its not paleo, but not necessarily unhealthy...correct?

My next question is, is it really true that eating this way allows you to eat until you are full and satisfied, and not gain weight as a result of too many calories?

I ask because i sort of tested this on myself by eating 2500-3000 calories each day, and ive been doing this for 3 weeks at least, and according to the scale, im still losing weight slowly. I saw it fluctuate up to 172 one day, a week later it seems to be steady around 166, and now its down to 163! Like i said i eat paleo style(except for beans and whole wheat) and i do not consume red meat or dairy. According to calories in vs. calories out i should have gained a few pounds, because im just 5'9", 163 lbs. Male, which means 3000 calories daily is way too much to lose weight for me(according to all calorie calculators)

I work out each day, but its not extreme, i may brisk walk a total of 2 hours or maybe bike for 75 minutes. And then every other day i add resistance, not a whole lot just a few reps heavy which last 15-20 minutes.

So, is it really true that eating this way allows you to eat until you are full and satisfied, and not gain weight as a result of too many calories?

Medium avatar

(5136)

on August 03, 2011
at 04:34 AM

i wasn't suggesting that some foods increase metabolism, necessarily, although that may be. What I meant was that some foods have a huge potential to SLOW metabolism, hence affecting your metabolism and making what you eat relevant to metabolism. Additionally, I disagree with you that weight and age are the primary determining factors in metabolism. I think this is a fallacy that has been made popular by people who didn't know what they should and shouldn't eat and then blamed a slowing metabolism on "inevitable aging" etc. I do however agree with you that activity level is very important.

C33e8c236e72d67c4b6c028401d23cce

(1884)

on August 02, 2011
at 09:31 PM

thhq, who suggested what now? I don't see a recommendation for surgery in there anywhere.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on August 02, 2011
at 07:43 AM

Thank goodness you didn't downvote! But in all seriousness, that's interesting. I think you're right; but only if you're saying that exercise is something that can decrease weight just because exercise is something that lowers a body-fat setpoint, and not because exercise is something that burns a lot of calories so that you can "burn more than you intake." The key is to always allow for the possibility of setpoint. It looks like HIIT, for example, can lower setpoint, through changing things around hormonally.

332d9f75d1077abafff6887681f6b130

(1081)

on August 02, 2011
at 04:38 AM

Also, a desk job will do it as well. I ate fairly "clean" by traditional body building standards (fairly paleo but with grains) and was super lean until I got behind a desk. Several years later, the diet hadn't changed but my body had. Its a bit of both: Calories matter and so does what you are eating. Your age also factors in. You can't simplify this sort of thing into a blanket statement.

332d9f75d1077abafff6887681f6b130

(1081)

on August 02, 2011
at 04:23 AM

Dr K isn't going to post any sources... he never does.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:37 AM

Upvote for all your activity. Eating results from hunting and gathering, which are driven by hunger. Keep at it!

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:24 AM

You suggest surgery. I suggest doing what the OP does. Brisk walk 2 hours a day. This burns 500-600 calories, and allows eating 3000 calories a day without weight gain.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:17 AM

I beg to differ. Metabolism is not primarily determined by what or how much you eat. It is determined primarily by your weight, age and sex, and can be increased substantially by activity. What you eat can affect your sense of satiety and cause you to eat less, but to suggest that there are foods which increase metabolism enters the realm of "fat blaster" diets.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:05 AM

I'm tempted to downvote because of the implication that paleo is all about diet. Basal metabolic rate is by and large a straight function of weight, age and sex. Any significant deviation from that is activity induced, and the OP is VERY active. Don't dismiss the paramount importance of hunting and gathering. Paleos may not have had grains, but they most definitely did not have cars and Whole Foods.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on August 02, 2011
at 02:31 AM

isocaloric does not equal isometabolic, for one thing. (A good one from Robert Lustig.)

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on August 02, 2011
at 02:27 AM

(continued) calories in and out with exercise, which as Robert Lustig says is a joke. One big Mac takes 3 hours of hard exercise to burn of, lol! It is because of the cortisol reduction effects with the *right* kinds of exercise and the increased sensitivity of muscle to insulin...and the real *experietial* effects of that lowered cortisol. Sure, movement helps...but that aint' the half of it.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on August 02, 2011
at 02:25 AM

Sherpamelissa: You are right and there has actually been some good research on this. Also, ANXIETY is bigtime implicated. And the sword is double edged...as in, it ain't that you just may eat more, have poorer impulse control re: choices. It is also CORTISOL in both anx and depression. So what you put it, courtesy of cortisol (yes this is oversimplified) gets shunted to FAT. Get that cortisol down with exercise and you get decreased hunger, better choices, decreased shunting to fat, better sleep, and on and on. Quite real. Cortiso is "my gig." Exercise is my main cure. And not because of

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on August 02, 2011
at 02:04 AM

p.s. I would add that for someone who has never had any weight issues, they will probably burn off the excess calories just by cranking up the metabolic burner. These are all scientific terms; you can look 'em up! However, I believe that over time, your body gets less efficient at doing that and will store that excess as fat. Metabolic issues play a role as well and obviously people have different metabolisms, which makes it impossible to give a clear-cut answer to your question.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on August 02, 2011
at 01:57 AM

It sounds like you have a fast metabolism. Up until the age of 25, I could eat any amount of anything and would stay as skinny as a rake. Sure, I was active but not doing crazy amounts of exercise. I started getting a fat belly later though. I can't help but wonder if all those years of eating high carb, sugar in tea and coffee, cereals for breakfast, and so on, kind of "wore out" my metabolism. Be warned: once you get a gut it's extremely hard to get back to zero belly fat even with a very strict diet. Still trying!

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on August 02, 2011
at 01:48 AM

You can't eat "too many calories" and expect not to gain weight. Calories do count, but the form of those calories undoubtedly makes a huge difference. So, in answer to your question - yes and no.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 02, 2011
at 01:08 AM

plus one........

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on May 02, 2011
at 08:42 AM

Well, here's an example: p. 804 of Lehninger, 4th edition. tinyurl.com/425w537 Maybe not the most clear-cut case, but I think even here it's obvious they're operating on the assumption that an increase in caloric intake will lead in a straightforward way to an increase in fat deposition, with little thought given to the sneaky things your body can do to keep fat mass the same.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on May 02, 2011
at 08:41 AM

Well, here's an example: p. 804 of Lehninger, 4th edition. http://tinyurl.com/425w537 Maybe not the most clear-cut case, but I think even here it's clear they're operating on the assumption that an increase in caloric intake will lead in a straightforward way to an increase in fat deposition, with little thought given to the sneaky things your body can do to keep fat mass the same.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 29, 2011
at 06:36 PM

I'm with you on the all-caps, and more so than I used to be, having performed my own self-experimentation recently; very enlightening. I like the way that Richard Nikoley put it in a blog post: self-experimentation is not a supplement to science -- it **is** science. .... Although I have never tried large-scale overfeeding to see if I would gain weight. I know that with small-scale overfeeding I do not. In that case my body does the sneaky stuff: I get hot, I get the urge to exercise -- and my weight stays the same.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 29, 2011
at 01:52 PM

I love this back and forth here. I actually think this thread has been one of the most interesting I've followed for a while. On one hand its the absolute fundament of ANY eating regime/diet, and on the other its clearly not agreed upon by all and up for argument. Things we think are so fundamental, so ubiqiutous never really are, are they? For my two cents, I, THROUGH MY OWN SELFEXPERIMENTATION, believe (I would say i "know" since it works time and again) that calories do matter but one's hormonal state controls how those cals are partitioned and the base amount of cals one needs.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 29, 2011
at 05:19 AM

Yeah, exactly Melissa. Though I was thinking it's possible that she had a more sophisticated version of the fat-makes-you-fat thesis: maybe she doesn't think it's calories-in/calories-out, but she thinks that the thing that causes the hormonal disturbance that causes weight gain is saturated fat (instead of, say, fructose or PUFAs). That would still be wrong, but I suppose worth a second date at least .... Sorry for all the comments Ben. I do think I'm going to find a specific excerpt from a biochem textbook to illustrate my point though, just to put it up here for posterity.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 29, 2011
at 01:02 AM

I hope you ended that date right there, Kamal! ;)

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 29, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Merci, Mlle. Tautou.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 11:44 PM

There is no such thing as bad publicity. (publicity equals badge here) The long-windedness/thoroughness is much appreciated.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 28, 2011
at 11:33 PM

Yeah, it's called "Long-winded."

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 09:08 PM

Also, I own that textbook. It was the book used in our Medical Nutrition Therapy Class. While the book is sitting back home on the shelf, I sort of doubt it will explain your point. But maybe I'm wrong.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 09:06 PM

Any paper on ICU management? My coworker, who is a physician, is reading my screen right now, and does not understand your point either. He says "Why is he assuming a straight line relationship up to fever temperatures, and why would you assume this internal temperature is common in exercise?"

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:57 PM

Here is a book for you to go buy or read at barnes and noble Nutrition and diet therapy: principles and practice By Linda K. DeBruyne, Kathryn Pinna, Eleanor Noss Whitney, Ellie Whitney

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:52 PM

Any paper on ICU management of patients Kamal. bMR rises dramatically with each degree up of temp. That is why high fevers cause huge damage. Something occurs in malignant hyperthermia. Due your due diligence. Read. Context comes from knowledge.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:45 PM

Is there a badge for "Mr. Comprensive Answer"?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:45 PM

Is there a badge for "Mr. Comphrensive Answer"?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:42 PM

Funny sidenote: I had a date two nights ago with a biochemist. Naturally, I snuck in some paleo talk. She listened to the whole thing and then noted "Yeah, but I'm pretty sure that eating most of your calories from fat guarantees you'll gain weight". (She was not joking, and she knew a bazillion times more biochem than me)

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:42 PM

yes, i would agree by the way that Taubes' books, valuable and interesting though they may be, are not what i would cite as references.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:38 PM

Depression and overeating are best friends. But neither of them is your friend!!!

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:14 PM

I am highly suspicious of this: "Each degree it rises raises metabolic rate 10-12%" Source?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:11 PM

Dr. K- refer us to a paper, and at least a couple people will gladly read it. Nobody here is arguing that calories are literally the only thing determining body weight, I think. Plus, there really aren't big arguments on either side. From what I can surmise, energy balance is quite well understood, whether you refer to Taubes or to random pubmed articles.

Acfd35c9e350bb4c0c17810af4decd95

(483)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:45 PM

The reason to ignore the theory is that it is "conventional wisdom." I personally believe Gary Taubes. (Remember, most conventional wisdom on food originates from the government, a group of people with a demonstrated lack of brain power.)

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:29 AM

WCC Paul - my bad. Just re-read the posts above and saw Aaron's bit. It was a long day yesterday! It is good that Aaron pointed out the example of growing teenagers. They are often labelled 'greedy and idle' but this is just the body's way of increasing Ei and reducing Eo to fuel growth. But it is the growth driving Ei and Eo. The same occurs with women in pregnancy. I also recall a mouse that starved to death despite being obese, due to being pumped full of insulin. Hormones rule. The pulsate release of hormones in itself is information rich which is why IF can be so effective.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:42 AM

I am still not sure I am going, but I hope so!

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:27 AM

I agree; I think any kind of chronic stress can get the ball rolling on this stuff, and depression/anxiety certainly qualifies as stress.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:06 AM

I'm just going to throw this out there... I think what made me obese was depression. Now, I know that I ate the bad carbs, yes I did. But I was fit before the depression, not optimal, but fine, "normal" even. Then a major life event threw me into the depression. So I ate and ate and ate... The food made me FEEL better (at least while it was in my mouth). I think depression/anxiety is a major contributor to obesity that is not really looked at directly.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:06 AM

I'm just going to throw this out there... I think what made me obese was depression. Now, I know that I ate the bad carbs, yes I did. But I was fit before the depression, not optimal, but fine, "normal" even. Then a major live event threw me into the depression. So I ate and ate and ate... The food made me FEEL better (at least while it was in my mouth). I think depression/anxiety is a major contributor to obesity that is not really looked at directly.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:30 PM

That's funny about the roles .... We could make T-shirts and pass them out at the Ancestral Health Symposium. E.g., Stephen-Aegis walking around with a shirt that says "Ask me about Testosterone."

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Wow, that's quite a compliment, especially from you. I love reading your answers too, and I'm obviously not the only one who feels that way ....

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:12 PM

Yes! So when the OP asks "...is it really true that eating this way allows you to eat until you are full and satisfied, and not gain weight as a result of too many calories?"

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Oh absolutely! I'm very cool with it, Paul. I just feel like I sometimes ask the questions that others that feel like me don't want to ask. I think quite a few of us have our roles here. I always look to Ambimorph for Zero Carb input and Gilliebean for Low Protein input, Lucky Bastard for great information about helping friends/family with switching and MORE of course. You give fantastic, well thought out, well researched answers on a myriad of topics. If I see your name, I will always click on the topic and read your answer. <3

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:06 PM

he, and so many others (unfortunately Taubes is sometimes with them though i love his book GCBC) just fail to see that the two ideas are NOT mutually exclusive.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:27 PM

Well, you were wrong! (Oh no, the cardinal sin!) Aaron B. did in fact make the point about the other side of the equation being the driving force in his excellent answer. But +1 for what is in my opinion a well-stated response.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 09:02 PM

I'm curious as to how you would measure optimized leptin, actually. It seems from the examples you've given (extreme athletes expending huge amounts of energy per day), the only extant examples of people with the ability to withstand massive food intake without weight gain are those engaged in vicious training programs. Do you have an example of someone not engaged in a such a program who also has "optimized leptin" and thus can eat huge amounts of food with no weight gain?

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:50 PM

"When leptin is optimized you don't need to worry one day about a calorie." So this presents a testable hypothesis: Someone with "optimized leptin" could massively overeat and not gain a single pound. Or, if that isn't what you're saying, then we probably agree: for humans in the wild, how well your body is regulating itself is more important to the pragmatics of weight loss than trying to measure calories. But your continued assertion that "calories don't matter" is code in the weight loss world for "thermodynamics don't apply to humans. You might want to be careful with that.

C33e8c236e72d67c4b6c028401d23cce

(1884)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:48 PM

I admit I'm a bit confused myself. I seem to be saying exactly the same thing Dr. K is saying: hormones are king. The other part is just the first law of thermodynamics. I don't see where the problem is.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:48 PM

K: Please explain to me why anything you just said doesn't fit under the general category of "calories out". You seem to be fighting some weird battle with someone who doesn't exist: someone who denies that the human body is complicated. It obviously is. Complexity doesn't defeat the underlying thermodynamics, either. I repeat: claiming that "calories don't matter" is absurd, but so is claiming that they're ALL that matter, or even that they're particular important to someone's day to day life. Your random examples of variables affecting energy out doesn't change the equation.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Dr. K, I really don't understand what exactly your disagreement is; you seem to be arbitrarily approving and disapproving of various answers on this thread. Perhaps you could answer again with a full statement of your views.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:28 PM

Wait, Melissa, I can't tell if you are upset about that, or? I refer to your posts just because you're most prominently associated with these ideas here on PH. Do you not want to be the representative? .... And thanks again.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:24 PM

I fear that I don't understand you, Dr. K, and it's not even clear what battle you are fighting. You cite Gary Taubes with approval, but not even he would agree that everyone with that "rare hormonal balance" could massively overfeed and not gain weight. Is that really what you're proposing? Do you want to clarify for us?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:15 PM

PS I like Ben's bolded sentence, I think he and I agree with each other.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:15 PM

Actually I have found that biochemistry textbooks are usually just as mistaken about calories in/calories out as anyone else is. It's a fine *conceptual* point and you either see the trick or you don't. Most doctors and scientists don't see the trick. It's possible that a greater percentage of them do see the trick than those who are not doctors or scientists, but it's still the case that most doctors and scientists don't see it. Knowledge of biochemistry does not guarantee understanding of a particular logical difficulty.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:07 PM

Explanation for anonymous downvote?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 07:51 PM

fighting a losing battle, dr. K.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:58 PM

Jumbo if I let you eat what you do and alter two variables I could have you drop 30 lbs easy. One is the ambient temps you work out in and the other is your basal metabolic rate which leptin controls. Each degree it rises raises metabolic rate 10-12%. But you don't get that. Hormonal status can swing caloric density in cases like phelps or Armstrong 400%. Some of the professional athletes i treat eat 10000 calories a day at 190 lbs. With your math you'd say it's impossible. It's is when you don't understand it.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:53 PM

Not when I am staring down ignorance. This is akin to seeing bleeding from and artery and just standing there and watching the person bleed to death. I can't allow this thinking to persist. I see thousands of obese people calorie restricted fornyears never do anything but gain more weight! Why? I'll let you read to figure it out.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:51 PM

They don't really. When you understand how leptin works. When leptin is optimized you don't need to worry one day about a calorie. Problem is hormonal balance in the world is rare. Therefore you and many others think calories do matter. They don't.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:49 PM

I understand the biochemistry and it's complexity. You don't and you're calling me out. Go buy a text book on biochemistry and Williams endocrinology and then come talk to me when you understand both texts.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:47 PM

And 8 more who up voted you need to go read too.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:46 PM

Pfw you are clearly showing ignorance. Go google thermal coefficients and weight loss. NASA uses it. Sherpas use it. They eat pure butter and lard during ascents in cold. So does NASA in space walks and climbers and phelps who trained in 50 water. If you really don't know don't talk. It reflects badly upon you. Epic fail here. Really disappointed that this shows up here. I'd expect it from a vegan site or a regular dietician or nutritionist who are clueless but not here.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:01 PM

+1 for the bolded statement.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:00 PM

Great answer Paul. I'd upvote it more than once if I could.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:41 PM

My posts wouldn't be half as good without the answers from you! Thanks though! I feel like sometimes I represent the formerly obese, metabolically damaged people that "standard Paleo" does not work for.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:20 PM

Of course, pfw. I feel like every time this general topic comes up you're on top of it, and I like to link things together as much as possible. Which reminds me, I should retag this question.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:03 PM

Thanks for the shout :)

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:03 PM

Thanks Melissa. I love your awesome posts too, which is why I link to them ....

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:31 PM

Well said. Calories "matter" the way nails matter when building a house. I can't build a house without nails, so they clearly matter. But buying a bunch of nails won't *cause* a house to be built, which is what people usually mean when they say "calories matter" or "calories in calories out."

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:30 PM

I love your awesome answers, Paul!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:51 PM

Yeah, I've read "Why We Get Fat" and I feel like Taubes is missing something there. It's still an amazing read and I learned a lot. I get that it's not JUST the food that makes us fat and the type of calories matter, but there is so much more than that.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:47 PM

Dr K: but he's disagreeing with you.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:45 PM

Dr. K: Like most doctors, you need to work on your bed side manner.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:38 AM

In GCBC (page 272), Taubes reports on a study of convicts "who initially raised their food consumption to 4000 calories a day. They gained a few pounds, but then their weights stabilized. So they ate 5000 calories a day, then 7000 (five full meals a day), then 10,000, while remaining sedentary....Of his eight subjects that went 200 days on this mildly heroic regimen, two gained weight easily and six did not." One gained less than 10 pounds, though 2000 extra calories for 200 days *should* equal over 100 pounds of energy storage according to the usual interpretation of calories-in-calories-out

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:27 AM

U don't get fat by 'eating too many calories' any more than U become alcoholic from 'drinking too much alcohol'. To say 'the obese eat more than they expend' is just restating the problem. People become obese due to hormonal disregulation. An example of this is genetically leptin-resistant mice who became obese & Type2 diabetic. Once leptin-sensitivity was restored the mice lost fat & spontaneously increased activity. They didn't lose fat because they were exercising, they were exercising because they were losing fat. http://www.bidmc.org/News/InResearch/2009/June/POMCNeurons.aspx

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:13 AM

You don't get fat by 'eating too many calories' any more than you become alcoholic from 'drinking too much alcohol'. To say 'the obese eat more than they expend' is just restating the problem. People become obese due to hormonal disregulation. A example of this is genetically leptin-resistant mice who became obese & Type2 diabetic. Once leptin-sensitivity was restored the mice lost fat & spontaneously increased activity. They didn't lose fat because they were exercising, they were excercising because they were losing fat. http://www.bidmc.org/News/InResearch/2009/June/POMCNeurons.aspx

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:07 AM

When you say "calories don't matter", you're imply that energy balance is irrelevant. It is not irrelevant, it's just not all that is relevant. It's an incomplete look at the issue of weight regulation, or maybe better stated it looks at the least interesting part, but it's not wrong.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:04 AM

So did Mike Phelps violate thermodynamics or did his body and activity level take care of ensuring energy balance? Asserting that "calories don't matter" is asinine. Asserting that they're _all_ that matter is equally asinine. Don't fall into the trap of oversimplifying.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:32 AM

He gets it too....

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:31 AM

You get it......plus one

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:31 AM

Epic failure here......

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:30 AM

Mike phelps ate at his peak 18000 cal a day. Using your math he should be 400 lbs. We know he was not. Why. His pre existing hormone status and the fact he trained in an environment that favor thermogenesis and completely altered his cenvironmental coefficient. Neither changed his calorie input but dramatically effected how he used the calories. You just don't get it like most folks. Calories don't matter. If your a slug who is leptin resistant then they will matter. For those with leptin sensitivity calorie consumption is a moot point. The underlying hormone Status is critical for it

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:25 AM

Read Gary taubes newest book and you'll begin to get it. I will be posting a lot on this in my writings because it is a rich area to clear out misconception. When you ask me to explain it your asking me to explain biochemistry to you in a paragraph which is impossible to do with out you understanding a small part of it

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:22 AM

Love that your an LSU fan too!

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:06 AM

It's not an unknown mechanism and we have ways of burning superfluous calories quite easily. I suppose I'll let Dr. K respond.

21e8ad2e1dcdb3a7c439b261f7efd9f0

on April 27, 2011
at 03:54 AM

Dr. K, can you be more specific? So, you say that a person that eats 6k calories a day will get fat not because he overeats but because he has a fat deregulation on a probably unknown mechanism? C'mon, let's get real. I do know biochemistry, quite well. I've read Taubes books and I'm a Paleo guy for over 2 years...

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Agreed, except the part about "when" we eat. From all that I've read, I'm convinced that time of day has nothing to do with weight gain.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:40 AM

Dr K - calories don't matter at all? I avg about 2800 a day. If I triple that (8,400/day), will I remain at 150Lbs (12% body fat)? Calories definitely do matter, but if you're eating the right foods it's almost impossible to eat too many. We simply shouldn't focus on calories, but rather focus on quality food.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:02 AM

I have to agree with ben on this one. The point is people should focus on eating the right foods rather than eating less of the wrong foods. HOWEVER, I believe Michael Phelps was eating around 12,000 calories a day when he took home 8 Gold medals in the "08 Olympics so the idea that 7,000 cals a day applies to everyone isn't accurate... still, I get the point and agree. I'd dare someone to try and eat 7,000 cals of high fat foods though. That would be really, really difficult.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:51 AM

Dr. k, if you dispute what I say then test it out: eat 7000 calories of anything you want. The best coconut milk, the best liver, the best asparagus, anything you'd like. You'll gain weight. Done. I agree wholly that hormones affect the amount of calories that will represent your maintenance but that does NOT change the simple premise that calories count. As you yourself say in your reply to the OP directly above.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:24 AM

the main reason paleos do not eat whole grains is because they cause a number of *very* bad things to happen in your body such as nutrient malabsorption, autoimmune problems, insulin spikes and general inflammation. While avoiding whole wheat and other grains may help with weight loss, the main idea behind not eating it is to avoid serious illnesses.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:10 AM

Agreed. Ideally they shouldn't matter since we will burn off excess and when appetite works properly...you're not eating too much anyway. I couldn't get over 3000 calories a day even if all I ate was low fat ice cream. Dr. K what do you know about the role of uncoupling proteins in keeping us lean?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:59 AM

Minus one.........

Frontpage book

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14 Answers

10
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:06 PM

Here we go again. First, the link to a good thread on this. Also various answers by pfw are helpful, e.g., here, here, and here. So we could close this as a duplicate thread, but we have a good discussion going already -- so why not continue.

I think everyone is right so far. But because in different cases people are using different terms there ends up being an appearance of disagreement.

  • Do calories matter? In the broadest sense, yes, obviously, and in fact it's a tautology. Weight gain does equal calories in minus calories out, because we live in the universe we live in. But you have to see that many different things can go into that "calories out" term of the equation in order to see how the equation can be preserved. Your body has ways of burning off excess calories rather than storing them. As Taubes points out, the body can set up various "futile cycles." It can generate heat. You can fidget. This is how your body can make the "calories out" term higher in a sneaky way. On the other side of things, your body has ways of conserving energy: it can make you sluggish, performing fewer tasks, and it can make you perform the same muscular task more efficiently. This is how your body can make the "calories out" term lower in a sneaky way.

  • Do calories matter? If by this you mean "can you lose weight through increasing calories out and decreasing calories in" then the answer is: 1. usually no and 2. sometimes yes. Usually no because a. calories out and calories in are not independent variables and b. there are "sneaky" ways by which your body can change calories out that escape your conscious control (see my last bullet point). Put these two together and you see the trick: If you consciously increase calories out (exercise) every day while decreasing calories in, then your body will unconsciously decrease calories out (make you sluggish, perform tasks more efficiently) to compensate. The result: you don't lose weight. So if by "do calories matter" you mean "are the laws of the universe preserved" then the answer is yes. If by "do calories matter" you mean "can you lose weight through increasing calories out and decreasing calories in" then the answer is no. (The same logic applies to weight gain.) Now I said 1. usually no and 2. sometimes yes. That was 1, usually no. Here is 2: Your body can only do so much compensation through the "sneaky" mechanisms. If you eat 0 calories a day for a very long time then you are going to lose weight. If you eat 7,000 calories a day for a very long time and you are otherwise sedentary then chances are you are going to gain weight. (There is a slight asymmetry here for obvious reasons.) Now the limits of what your body can do are somewhat uncertain, as Aaron B. pointed out in his comment to Ben. Maybe some people will gain more than others, maybe some people will gain for a while and then stop. It all depends on how powerful the "sneaky" mechanisms are. So to go through it again for part 2: If by "do calories matter" you mean "are the laws of the universe preserved" then the answer is yes. If by "do calories matter" you mean "can you lose weight by increasing calories out and decreasing calories in" or "can you gain weight by decreasing calories out and increasing calories in" then the answer in this case is also yes. You are overriding the "sneaky," unconscious mechanisms with massive overfeeding or massive underfeeding -- huge variations in the conscious mechanisms.

  • Do calories matter? If by this you mean "is the only way to lose weight to make yourself hungry all the time" then the answer is: No -- go paleo, dammit. This follows from the above: a conventional "diet" is just a diet that falls into the "sometimes yes" category in my previous bullet point. In order to lose weight with the conventional method you have to override your body's "sneaky" mechanisms. What this means is that you have to go to extremes. In other words, you will be hungry and irritable all the time. If you go paleo then you are taking those sneaky mechanisms and making them yours. Because hormonal readjustment is a sneaky mechanism too -- in the sense that it is something your body does for you; it is something that happens unconsciously rather than consciously. When you go paleo your body decides to be the kind of body that doesn't need a big gas tank rather than the kind of body that does need a big gas tank. How you get to that point -- the increasing of calories out and the decreasing of calories in -- is not all that relevant. It will be, for all intents and purposes, taken care of by your body for you.

As a small postscript, I should say that there are a couple more complications. I think that there might be some new role for calorie counting when you get down to lower levels of body fat. And there is also the issue of those who have caused some previous damage to their body such that satiety can't be relied upon as a signal. But the first of these is complicated and left for a better time, and the second of these has been discussed in a very interesting way in this thread started by SherpaMelissa, as well as in the thread of hers I linked to at the very beginning of my post.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:28 PM

Wait, Melissa, I can't tell if you are upset about that, or? I refer to your posts just because you're most prominently associated with these ideas here on PH. Do you not want to be the representative? .... And thanks again.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 11:44 PM

There is no such thing as bad publicity. (publicity equals badge here) The long-windedness/thoroughness is much appreciated.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:30 PM

I love your awesome answers, Paul!

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:03 PM

Thanks Melissa. I love your awesome posts too, which is why I link to them ....

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:41 PM

My posts wouldn't be half as good without the answers from you! Thanks though! I feel like sometimes I represent the formerly obese, metabolically damaged people that "standard Paleo" does not work for.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:31 PM

Well said. Calories "matter" the way nails matter when building a house. I can't build a house without nails, so they clearly matter. But buying a bunch of nails won't *cause* a house to be built, which is what people usually mean when they say "calories matter" or "calories in calories out."

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Oh absolutely! I'm very cool with it, Paul. I just feel like I sometimes ask the questions that others that feel like me don't want to ask. I think quite a few of us have our roles here. I always look to Ambimorph for Zero Carb input and Gilliebean for Low Protein input, Lucky Bastard for great information about helping friends/family with switching and MORE of course. You give fantastic, well thought out, well researched answers on a myriad of topics. If I see your name, I will always click on the topic and read your answer. <3

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:30 PM

That's funny about the roles .... We could make T-shirts and pass them out at the Ancestral Health Symposium. E.g., Stephen-Aegis walking around with a shirt that says "Ask me about Testosterone."

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:20 PM

Of course, pfw. I feel like every time this general topic comes up you're on top of it, and I like to link things together as much as possible. Which reminds me, I should retag this question.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:03 PM

Thanks for the shout :)

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:00 PM

Great answer Paul. I'd upvote it more than once if I could.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:07 PM

Explanation for anonymous downvote?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Wow, that's quite a compliment, especially from you. I love reading your answers too, and I'm obviously not the only one who feels that way ....

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:45 PM

Is there a badge for "Mr. Comprensive Answer"?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:42 AM

I am still not sure I am going, but I hope so!

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 29, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Merci, Mlle. Tautou.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:45 PM

Is there a badge for "Mr. Comphrensive Answer"?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 28, 2011
at 11:33 PM

Yeah, it's called "Long-winded."

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:05 AM

I'm tempted to downvote because of the implication that paleo is all about diet. Basal metabolic rate is by and large a straight function of weight, age and sex. Any significant deviation from that is activity induced, and the OP is VERY active. Don't dismiss the paramount importance of hunting and gathering. Paleos may not have had grains, but they most definitely did not have cars and Whole Foods.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on August 02, 2011
at 07:43 AM

Thank goodness you didn't downvote! But in all seriousness, that's interesting. I think you're right; but only if you're saying that exercise is something that can decrease weight just because exercise is something that lowers a body-fat setpoint, and not because exercise is something that burns a lot of calories so that you can "burn more than you intake." The key is to always allow for the possibility of setpoint. It looks like HIIT, for example, can lower setpoint, through changing things around hormonally.

9
03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:44 AM

It's a fact that the energy coming into the body minus the energy coming out (including that burned through activity), equals the energy being stored. I think the way Gary Taubes shows it is like this:

Ei - Eo = Es

Where Ei is energy in (measured by calories, but it could be BTUs or whatever), Eo is energy out, and Es is the change in energy stored. That's the First Law of Thermodynamics that calorie counters like to cite, and they're right -- as far as it goes.

What's not a fact is that you can equate Ei to "food eaten" and Eo to "exercise plus a constant amount used for basic functions of life". That's where most people oversimplify it, and get the idea that if you just eat 100 calories less or exercise 100 calories more, you'll lose 100 calories worth of energy storage (hopefully fat) like clockwork. That's hopelessly simplistic, and ignores other inputs and outputs that can affect the equation.

Part of the problem is that people assume the left side of the equation drives the right side, as if the body is like a shopping bag, and if you put two items in and take one out, it has one remaining. Do that every day for a month, and the bag is bulging and in danger of bursting. They assume that your body has no say about any of this; it just stores any extra and gives up some when there's a deficit.

It's more accurate to turn the equation around and make Es (change in energy storage) the driving force. One day your body decides it needs to store some energy. Maybe you're 12 years old and starting a growth spurt, and it needs to build a lot of bone in a hurry. Maybe your fat cells are requesting more energy to store because they aren't getting the leptin signal properly. Whatever the reason, your body says "give me more energy to store," and it's pretty easy to eat a couple hundred extra calories a day without knowing it, if your body is doing something with it so you don't seem any more full. If you're weighing your foods with great accuracy and have the willpower to keep Ei from increasing, your body will have no choice but to do whatever it can to bring Eo down instead. You may start to feel lethargic, less ambitious about exercise, moving more slowly, sleeping longer.

The point is that if your body decides to store energy, there's not much you can do to stop it by trying to manipulate Ei or Eo directly. If you refuse by reducing your Ei at least as much as your body can reduce Eo -- and you've got tremendous willpower or are in a controlled environment like a prison where someone else controls your intake -- then you're starving yourself, which isn't good. On the other hand, you can address the root cause of why your body is trying to increase energy storage, which people are really just now starting to explore seriously, with topics like leptin resistance, fructose damage to the liver, various inflammatory problems, etc. If we can figure out how to control Es (and paleo is a step in that direction, but there's a lot to learn yet about the specifics), Ei and Eo will fall into line.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:38 PM

Depression and overeating are best friends. But neither of them is your friend!!!

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:27 AM

I agree; I think any kind of chronic stress can get the ball rolling on this stuff, and depression/anxiety certainly qualifies as stress.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:06 AM

I'm just going to throw this out there... I think what made me obese was depression. Now, I know that I ate the bad carbs, yes I did. But I was fit before the depression, not optimal, but fine, "normal" even. Then a major life event threw me into the depression. So I ate and ate and ate... The food made me FEEL better (at least while it was in my mouth). I think depression/anxiety is a major contributor to obesity that is not really looked at directly.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 28, 2011
at 12:06 AM

I'm just going to throw this out there... I think what made me obese was depression. Now, I know that I ate the bad carbs, yes I did. But I was fit before the depression, not optimal, but fine, "normal" even. Then a major live event threw me into the depression. So I ate and ate and ate... The food made me FEEL better (at least while it was in my mouth). I think depression/anxiety is a major contributor to obesity that is not really looked at directly.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on August 02, 2011
at 02:27 AM

(continued) calories in and out with exercise, which as Robert Lustig says is a joke. One big Mac takes 3 hours of hard exercise to burn of, lol! It is because of the cortisol reduction effects with the *right* kinds of exercise and the increased sensitivity of muscle to insulin...and the real *experietial* effects of that lowered cortisol. Sure, movement helps...but that aint' the half of it.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on August 02, 2011
at 02:25 AM

Sherpamelissa: You are right and there has actually been some good research on this. Also, ANXIETY is bigtime implicated. And the sword is double edged...as in, it ain't that you just may eat more, have poorer impulse control re: choices. It is also CORTISOL in both anx and depression. So what you put it, courtesy of cortisol (yes this is oversimplified) gets shunted to FAT. Get that cortisol down with exercise and you get decreased hunger, better choices, decreased shunting to fat, better sleep, and on and on. Quite real. Cortiso is "my gig." Exercise is my main cure. And not because of

7
Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:06 AM

the real issue with calories in and calories out is that your body is a mutable entity that has different energy needs based on an almost infinite number of variables with additional variables concerning how efficient that body's metabolism is on average. On top of that the kind of calories you're ingesting further affects that metabolism's efficiency.

I tend to think those who argue against calories in/calories out do not exactly argue the science of energy input and energy output as much as they are arguing against the notion that a certain "caloric ideal" will optimize your body.

The problem with "calories in/calories out" is that it tends to lean towards a "caloric ideal", usually expressed as a set number that should be approximated every day, which ignores the body's varying needs and desires. personally i tend to think this is very destructive to ignore or override your body's instinctive needs repeatedly because it disrupts your sensitivity to informative natural processes in the long run and then you develop metabolic disorder. This idea has been complicated by food production which substitutes unacceptable "cheaper" calories that "mimic" the desired natural calorie source.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:31 AM

You get it......plus one

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:17 AM

I beg to differ. Metabolism is not primarily determined by what or how much you eat. It is determined primarily by your weight, age and sex, and can be increased substantially by activity. What you eat can affect your sense of satiety and cause you to eat less, but to suggest that there are foods which increase metabolism enters the realm of "fat blaster" diets.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on August 03, 2011
at 04:34 AM

i wasn't suggesting that some foods increase metabolism, necessarily, although that may be. What I meant was that some foods have a huge potential to SLOW metabolism, hence affecting your metabolism and making what you eat relevant to metabolism. Additionally, I disagree with you that weight and age are the primary determining factors in metabolism. I think this is a fallacy that has been made popular by people who didn't know what they should and shouldn't eat and then blamed a slowing metabolism on "inevitable aging" etc. I do however agree with you that activity level is very important.

4
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:45 PM

The point is that yes, hormones affect the way your body deals with whatever calories it gets.

My own example at 31 years of age: I eat 3500 to 4k calories per day and i'm maintaining a lean physique. This is because im lifting heavy and my muscles use the extra cals to heal and my hormones are firing well. My body is being essentially abused in a controlled manner by my lifting schedule and thus needing repair on my off days to come back bigger and stronger.

If I were not giving my body a growth stimulus by lifting progressively heavier things regularly and eating big then I would simply get fat.

All the back on and forth on this thread can be summed up with:

the two ideas of 1) calories counting or not, and 2) hormones affecting HOW those calories count are NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. something Dr. K seems to misunderstand.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 29, 2011
at 01:02 AM

I hope you ended that date right there, Kamal! ;)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:51 PM

Yeah, I've read "Why We Get Fat" and I feel like Taubes is missing something there. It's still an amazing read and I learned a lot. I get that it's not JUST the food that makes us fat and the type of calories matter, but there is so much more than that.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:15 PM

PS I like Ben's bolded sentence, I think he and I agree with each other.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:49 PM

I understand the biochemistry and it's complexity. You don't and you're calling me out. Go buy a text book on biochemistry and Williams endocrinology and then come talk to me when you understand both texts.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:15 PM

Actually I have found that biochemistry textbooks are usually just as mistaken about calories in/calories out as anyone else is. It's a fine *conceptual* point and you either see the trick or you don't. Most doctors and scientists don't see the trick. It's possible that a greater percentage of them do see the trick than those who are not doctors or scientists, but it's still the case that most doctors and scientists don't see it. Knowledge of biochemistry does not guarantee understanding of a particular logical difficulty.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:01 PM

+1 for the bolded statement.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 29, 2011
at 01:52 PM

I love this back and forth here. I actually think this thread has been one of the most interesting I've followed for a while. On one hand its the absolute fundament of ANY eating regime/diet, and on the other its clearly not agreed upon by all and up for argument. Things we think are so fundamental, so ubiqiutous never really are, are they? For my two cents, I, THROUGH MY OWN SELFEXPERIMENTATION, believe (I would say i "know" since it works time and again) that calories do matter but one's hormonal state controls how those cals are partitioned and the base amount of cals one needs.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:42 PM

Funny sidenote: I had a date two nights ago with a biochemist. Naturally, I snuck in some paleo talk. She listened to the whole thing and then noted "Yeah, but I'm pretty sure that eating most of your calories from fat guarantees you'll gain weight". (She was not joking, and she knew a bazillion times more biochem than me)

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 29, 2011
at 06:36 PM

I'm with you on the all-caps, and more so than I used to be, having performed my own self-experimentation recently; very enlightening. I like the way that Richard Nikoley put it in a blog post: self-experimentation is not a supplement to science -- it **is** science. .... Although I have never tried large-scale overfeeding to see if I would gain weight. I know that with small-scale overfeeding I do not. In that case my body does the sneaky stuff: I get hot, I get the urge to exercise -- and my weight stays the same.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 29, 2011
at 05:19 AM

Yeah, exactly Melissa. Though I was thinking it's possible that she had a more sophisticated version of the fat-makes-you-fat thesis: maybe she doesn't think it's calories-in/calories-out, but she thinks that the thing that causes the hormonal disturbance that causes weight gain is saturated fat (instead of, say, fructose or PUFAs). That would still be wrong, but I suppose worth a second date at least .... Sorry for all the comments Ben. I do think I'm going to find a specific excerpt from a biochem textbook to illustrate my point though, just to put it up here for posterity.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on May 02, 2011
at 08:41 AM

Well, here's an example: p. 804 of Lehninger, 4th edition. http://tinyurl.com/425w537 Maybe not the most clear-cut case, but I think even here it's clear they're operating on the assumption that an increase in caloric intake will lead in a straightforward way to an increase in fat deposition, with little thought given to the sneaky things your body can do to keep fat mass the same.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on May 02, 2011
at 08:42 AM

Well, here's an example: p. 804 of Lehninger, 4th edition. tinyurl.com/425w537 Maybe not the most clear-cut case, but I think even here it's obvious they're operating on the assumption that an increase in caloric intake will lead in a straightforward way to an increase in fat deposition, with little thought given to the sneaky things your body can do to keep fat mass the same.

3
F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

on April 27, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I have quickly scanned through this thread and comments, and one point that (I think) has yet to be made is that given the formula:

Ei - Eo = Es

We take it to mean that the LHS side of the equation (E in - E out), is driving the RHS of the equation (E stored).

But this is not the case. Through hormonal control Es can and does drive 'Ei - Eo'. This is perhaps THE BIG POINT made in GCBC as it goes against conventional wisdom and our approach to weight control for the last 50 years. Your obesity is making you eat more. Your obesity is making you do less.

The other point is that Ei and Eo ARE NOT INDEPENDENT VARIABLES. One can be adjusted based upon the other, dynamically and way below your physical control.

It is also worth pointing out we are not closed systems or bomb calorimeters. There is uncertainty about which metabolic path a calorie will take at any given time. Also, biological systems can undergo autophagy. Try controlling 'calories in' in a system that can eat itself. Try controlling 'calories out' in a system that can adapt its thermogenic activity and futile cycling with impunity.

So when the OP asks "...is it really true that eating this way allows you to eat until you are full and satisfied, and not gain weight as a result of too many calories?"

The answer is yes, if you have a healthy, functioning metabolism.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:29 AM

WCC Paul - my bad. Just re-read the posts above and saw Aaron's bit. It was a long day yesterday! It is good that Aaron pointed out the example of growing teenagers. They are often labelled 'greedy and idle' but this is just the body's way of increasing Ei and reducing Eo to fuel growth. But it is the growth driving Ei and Eo. The same occurs with women in pregnancy. I also recall a mouse that starved to death despite being obese, due to being pumped full of insulin. Hormones rule. The pulsate release of hormones in itself is information rich which is why IF can be so effective.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:27 PM

Well, you were wrong! (Oh no, the cardinal sin!) Aaron B. did in fact make the point about the other side of the equation being the driving force in his excellent answer. But +1 for what is in my opinion a well-stated response.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:12 PM

Yes! So when the OP asks "...is it really true that eating this way allows you to eat until you are full and satisfied, and not gain weight as a result of too many calories?"

3
C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on April 27, 2011
at 09:15 AM

You can pee calories out and your body can change its temperature. Your body can convert fat to muscle and vice versa. All these things affect the calories out part of the equation in different ways.

Calories in vs calories out is accurate enough, the problem is most people simplistically equate it to mean food in minus exercise done.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:32 AM

He gets it too....

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:47 PM

Dr K: but he's disagreeing with you.

3
3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:59 AM

I say it's a half truth, or as Dr. Eades says (paraphrased from Protein Power) 'ultimately calories count.' Most people can't eat 8,000 calories a day and not gain weight, and if someone starves themselves by eating 1,200 calories a day, they'll most likely lose weight.

I say it's a half truth because when people start focusing on calories they just eat less of the crappy foods that got them unhealthy/overweight/diseased etc and partially starving oneself is shown not to work long term.

So yes, if you stuff your face you'll probably gain weight, and if you starve yourself you'll probably lose weight, BUT, if you eat the right types of foods you simply don't have to worry about it.

3
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:50 AM

Truth. Calories count period. Eat 7000 calories of ANYTHING and you'll gain weight. Very simple. Try it out. You can always cut weight later.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:30 AM

Mike phelps ate at his peak 18000 cal a day. Using your math he should be 400 lbs. We know he was not. Why. His pre existing hormone status and the fact he trained in an environment that favor thermogenesis and completely altered his cenvironmental coefficient. Neither changed his calorie input but dramatically effected how he used the calories. You just don't get it like most folks. Calories don't matter. If your a slug who is leptin resistant then they will matter. For those with leptin sensitivity calorie consumption is a moot point. The underlying hormone Status is critical for it

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:04 AM

So did Mike Phelps violate thermodynamics or did his body and activity level take care of ensuring energy balance? Asserting that "calories don't matter" is asinine. Asserting that they're _all_ that matter is equally asinine. Don't fall into the trap of oversimplifying.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:38 AM

In GCBC (page 272), Taubes reports on a study of convicts "who initially raised their food consumption to 4000 calories a day. They gained a few pounds, but then their weights stabilized. So they ate 5000 calories a day, then 7000 (five full meals a day), then 10,000, while remaining sedentary....Of his eight subjects that went 200 days on this mildly heroic regimen, two gained weight easily and six did not." One gained less than 10 pounds, though 2000 extra calories for 200 days *should* equal over 100 pounds of energy storage according to the usual interpretation of calories-in-calories-out

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:48 PM

K: Please explain to me why anything you just said doesn't fit under the general category of "calories out". You seem to be fighting some weird battle with someone who doesn't exist: someone who denies that the human body is complicated. It obviously is. Complexity doesn't defeat the underlying thermodynamics, either. I repeat: claiming that "calories don't matter" is absurd, but so is claiming that they're ALL that matter, or even that they're particular important to someone's day to day life. Your random examples of variables affecting energy out doesn't change the equation.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:47 PM

And 8 more who up voted you need to go read too.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:02 AM

I have to agree with ben on this one. The point is people should focus on eating the right foods rather than eating less of the wrong foods. HOWEVER, I believe Michael Phelps was eating around 12,000 calories a day when he took home 8 Gold medals in the "08 Olympics so the idea that 7,000 cals a day applies to everyone isn't accurate... still, I get the point and agree. I'd dare someone to try and eat 7,000 cals of high fat foods though. That would be really, really difficult.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:27 AM

U don't get fat by 'eating too many calories' any more than U become alcoholic from 'drinking too much alcohol'. To say 'the obese eat more than they expend' is just restating the problem. People become obese due to hormonal disregulation. An example of this is genetically leptin-resistant mice who became obese & Type2 diabetic. Once leptin-sensitivity was restored the mice lost fat & spontaneously increased activity. They didn't lose fat because they were exercising, they were exercising because they were losing fat. http://www.bidmc.org/News/InResearch/2009/June/POMCNeurons.aspx

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:59 AM

Minus one.........

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:13 AM

You don't get fat by 'eating too many calories' any more than you become alcoholic from 'drinking too much alcohol'. To say 'the obese eat more than they expend' is just restating the problem. People become obese due to hormonal disregulation. A example of this is genetically leptin-resistant mice who became obese & Type2 diabetic. Once leptin-sensitivity was restored the mice lost fat & spontaneously increased activity. They didn't lose fat because they were exercising, they were excercising because they were losing fat. http://www.bidmc.org/News/InResearch/2009/June/POMCNeurons.aspx

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:46 PM

Pfw you are clearly showing ignorance. Go google thermal coefficients and weight loss. NASA uses it. Sherpas use it. They eat pure butter and lard during ascents in cold. So does NASA in space walks and climbers and phelps who trained in 50 water. If you really don't know don't talk. It reflects badly upon you. Epic fail here. Really disappointed that this shows up here. I'd expect it from a vegan site or a regular dietician or nutritionist who are clueless but not here.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:11 PM

Dr. K- refer us to a paper, and at least a couple people will gladly read it. Nobody here is arguing that calories are literally the only thing determining body weight, I think. Plus, there really aren't big arguments on either side. From what I can surmise, energy balance is quite well understood, whether you refer to Taubes or to random pubmed articles.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:24 PM

I fear that I don't understand you, Dr. K, and it's not even clear what battle you are fighting. You cite Gary Taubes with approval, but not even he would agree that everyone with that "rare hormonal balance" could massively overfeed and not gain weight. Is that really what you're proposing? Do you want to clarify for us?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:51 AM

Dr. k, if you dispute what I say then test it out: eat 7000 calories of anything you want. The best coconut milk, the best liver, the best asparagus, anything you'd like. You'll gain weight. Done. I agree wholly that hormones affect the amount of calories that will represent your maintenance but that does NOT change the simple premise that calories count. As you yourself say in your reply to the OP directly above.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 07:51 PM

fighting a losing battle, dr. K.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:42 PM

yes, i would agree by the way that Taubes' books, valuable and interesting though they may be, are not what i would cite as references.

332d9f75d1077abafff6887681f6b130

(1081)

on August 02, 2011
at 04:23 AM

Dr K isn't going to post any sources... he never does.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on August 02, 2011
at 02:31 AM

isocaloric does not equal isometabolic, for one thing. (A good one from Robert Lustig.)

2
C33e8c236e72d67c4b6c028401d23cce

(1884)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:40 AM

The formula:

(Calories in) - (Calories out) = (Calories gained)

is a fundamental law of physics. Short of surgery there is nothing in the world that can alter it.

However, what is often left out is the fact that what kind of Calories you take in, in what form and when, can have a dramatic effect on both how much you burn and how much you want.

Hormones control your appetite, your metabolism and your body's preferred fuel source. The kinds of food you eat affect your hormones.

It's also true that there are other things that can affect your hormones, so no two people are going to see exactly the same results from a paleo diet, but most people coming from a high-carb diet will lean out and be less hungry with no additional effort.

So yes, Calories in-Calories out is true, as far as it goes.

And yes, eating paleoesque foods sensibly will smooth out your appetite and help you tend toward a healthy weight.

Welcome to PaleoHacks. :)

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Agreed, except the part about "when" we eat. From all that I've read, I'm convinced that time of day has nothing to do with weight gain.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:31 AM

Epic failure here......

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:06 PM

he, and so many others (unfortunately Taubes is sometimes with them though i love his book GCBC) just fail to see that the two ideas are NOT mutually exclusive.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:53 PM

Not when I am staring down ignorance. This is akin to seeing bleeding from and artery and just standing there and watching the person bleed to death. I can't allow this thinking to persist. I see thousands of obese people calorie restricted fornyears never do anything but gain more weight! Why? I'll let you read to figure it out.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:45 PM

Dr. K: Like most doctors, you need to work on your bed side manner.

C33e8c236e72d67c4b6c028401d23cce

(1884)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:48 PM

I admit I'm a bit confused myself. I seem to be saying exactly the same thing Dr. K is saying: hormones are king. The other part is just the first law of thermodynamics. I don't see where the problem is.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Dr. K, I really don't understand what exactly your disagreement is; you seem to be arbitrarily approving and disapproving of various answers on this thread. Perhaps you could answer again with a full statement of your views.

C33e8c236e72d67c4b6c028401d23cce

(1884)

on August 02, 2011
at 09:31 PM

thhq, who suggested what now? I don't see a recommendation for surgery in there anywhere.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 02, 2011
at 03:24 AM

You suggest surgery. I suggest doing what the OP does. Brisk walk 2 hours a day. This burns 500-600 calories, and allows eating 3000 calories a day without weight gain.

2
A3ff262a2686d79789e09a26013901b3

on April 27, 2011
at 02:09 AM

There is alot more to the reasons why people on paleo don't eat grains and legumes than "because cave men didnt farm then, so therefore its not paleo" Grains and legumes are UNHEALTHY and there are many reasons to avoid them. In fact, besides eating whole foods, the basis of paleo is about avoiding these foods.

1
727d2cd2789aa48b6a9c13aa770422e1

on August 02, 2011
at 12:42 AM

All I know is that I am 5/'8, 158lb male, 26 years old, and I am eating well over 3500 calories a day ( have a bit of an obessive eating disorder I think b/c I eat just for fun all day) while staying lean 6-8% body fat. I rock climb 3 days a week, and my job involves standing all day ( I work at Whole Foods). So maybe, I am underestimating how many calories I need per day, but something tells me that excess calories don't automatically = fat gain.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on August 02, 2011
at 01:57 AM

It sounds like you have a fast metabolism. Up until the age of 25, I could eat any amount of anything and would stay as skinny as a rake. Sure, I was active but not doing crazy amounts of exercise. I started getting a fat belly later though. I can't help but wonder if all those years of eating high carb, sugar in tea and coffee, cereals for breakfast, and so on, kind of "wore out" my metabolism. Be warned: once you get a gut it's extremely hard to get back to zero belly fat even with a very strict diet. Still trying!

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 02, 2011
at 01:08 AM

plus one........

332d9f75d1077abafff6887681f6b130

(1081)

on August 02, 2011
at 04:38 AM

Also, a desk job will do it as well. I ate fairly "clean" by traditional body building standards (fairly paleo but with grains) and was super lean until I got behind a desk. Several years later, the diet hadn't changed but my body had. Its a bit of both: Calories matter and so does what you are eating. Your age also factors in. You can't simplify this sort of thing into a blanket statement.

1
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:59 AM

Calories dont matter....they matter if your hormones and metabolism are off. And most peoples are. Read the laws of adiposity in Why we get fat. It will help you understand why. Anyone who tells you calories matter in every context should be ignored because they dont understand biochemistry. Its that simple. Sadly most of america does not get it.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:06 AM

It's not an unknown mechanism and we have ways of burning superfluous calories quite easily. I suppose I'll let Dr. K respond.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 11:07 AM

When you say "calories don't matter", you're imply that energy balance is irrelevant. It is not irrelevant, it's just not all that is relevant. It's an incomplete look at the issue of weight regulation, or maybe better stated it looks at the least interesting part, but it's not wrong.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 10:25 AM

Read Gary taubes newest book and you'll begin to get it. I will be posting a lot on this in my writings because it is a rich area to clear out misconception. When you ask me to explain it your asking me to explain biochemistry to you in a paragraph which is impossible to do with out you understanding a small part of it

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:58 PM

Jumbo if I let you eat what you do and alter two variables I could have you drop 30 lbs easy. One is the ambient temps you work out in and the other is your basal metabolic rate which leptin controls. Each degree it rises raises metabolic rate 10-12%. But you don't get that. Hormonal status can swing caloric density in cases like phelps or Armstrong 400%. Some of the professional athletes i treat eat 10000 calories a day at 190 lbs. With your math you'd say it's impossible. It's is when you don't understand it.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:40 AM

Dr K - calories don't matter at all? I avg about 2800 a day. If I triple that (8,400/day), will I remain at 150Lbs (12% body fat)? Calories definitely do matter, but if you're eating the right foods it's almost impossible to eat too many. We simply shouldn't focus on calories, but rather focus on quality food.

21e8ad2e1dcdb3a7c439b261f7efd9f0

on April 27, 2011
at 03:54 AM

Dr. K, can you be more specific? So, you say that a person that eats 6k calories a day will get fat not because he overeats but because he has a fat deregulation on a probably unknown mechanism? C'mon, let's get real. I do know biochemistry, quite well. I've read Taubes books and I'm a Paleo guy for over 2 years...

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:14 PM

I am highly suspicious of this: "Each degree it rises raises metabolic rate 10-12%" Source?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 09:08 PM

Also, I own that textbook. It was the book used in our Medical Nutrition Therapy Class. While the book is sitting back home on the shelf, I sort of doubt it will explain your point. But maybe I'm wrong.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:10 AM

Agreed. Ideally they shouldn't matter since we will burn off excess and when appetite works properly...you're not eating too much anyway. I couldn't get over 3000 calories a day even if all I ate was low fat ice cream. Dr. K what do you know about the role of uncoupling proteins in keeping us lean?

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 08:50 PM

"When leptin is optimized you don't need to worry one day about a calorie." So this presents a testable hypothesis: Someone with "optimized leptin" could massively overeat and not gain a single pound. Or, if that isn't what you're saying, then we probably agree: for humans in the wild, how well your body is regulating itself is more important to the pragmatics of weight loss than trying to measure calories. But your continued assertion that "calories don't matter" is code in the weight loss world for "thermodynamics don't apply to humans. You might want to be careful with that.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:52 PM

Any paper on ICU management of patients Kamal. bMR rises dramatically with each degree up of temp. That is why high fevers cause huge damage. Something occurs in malignant hyperthermia. Due your due diligence. Read. Context comes from knowledge.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:51 PM

They don't really. When you understand how leptin works. When leptin is optimized you don't need to worry one day about a calorie. Problem is hormonal balance in the world is rare. Therefore you and many others think calories do matter. They don't.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:57 PM

Here is a book for you to go buy or read at barnes and noble Nutrition and diet therapy: principles and practice By Linda K. DeBruyne, Kathryn Pinna, Eleanor Noss Whitney, Ellie Whitney

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 27, 2011
at 09:02 PM

I'm curious as to how you would measure optimized leptin, actually. It seems from the examples you've given (extreme athletes expending huge amounts of energy per day), the only extant examples of people with the ability to withstand massive food intake without weight gain are those engaged in vicious training programs. Do you have an example of someone not engaged in a such a program who also has "optimized leptin" and thus can eat huge amounts of food with no weight gain?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 28, 2011
at 09:06 PM

Any paper on ICU management? My coworker, who is a physician, is reading my screen right now, and does not understand your point either. He says "Why is he assuming a straight line relationship up to fever temperatures, and why would you assume this internal temperature is common in exercise?"

0
2ab6415f5f20b8fe1d34a94c7be85e6a

on August 02, 2011
at 02:15 AM

Calories in and out count for your weight gain or loss, quality of that gain or loss (fat and muscle increase and decrease) depend on the quality of the calories in and the exercise done plus some hormonal stuff thrown in there.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 28, 2011
at 07:45 PM

The Every Other Day Diet is one of the best diets currently on the market,learn how to get back into shape!

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