Why “Calories In, Calories Out” is Bullshit

“Calories in, calories out” (CICO) is an age-old attempt to address the issue of weight loss and weight gain. Guess what? It’s actually a great attempt.

Remember folks, a calorie is a unit of energy. It is conveniently used to label the exact amount of energy value that foods have. The definition is ” the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C, often used to measure the energy in foods.”

If we consume more calories than we burn, we gain weight. If we burn more calories than we consume, we lose weight. This is an unbreakable law of science that can’t be contested. It is simple thermochemistry. Obesity is caused by excess caloric consumption and weight loss is caused by caloric restriction. Undebatable.

So how is CICO bullshit?

Because it grossly oversimplifies the issue and allows people to remain metabolically broken. It fails to address the question of “Why are people eating more?”, and for that reason, it blinds us with ignorance about the way different sources of calories are metabolized. We weren’t all counting calories for the thousands of years when obesity was nearly non-existent.

All calories are not created equally. You’ll find people who think this, and then in the same breath they’ll tell you that your body digests 1000 calories of broccoli, 1000 calories of beef, and 1000 calories of chocolate all in the same way.

Calories come from three macro-nutrients. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. If we consume different ratios of these macro-nutrients, we will be affected differently, even if we consume the exact same number of calories. Some foods will affect our boost our satiety, some will boost the metabolic rate, some will lower the metabolic rate, etc.

Eating a three chocolate bars every day for five years will have a vastly different effect on the body than if you ate the same amount of calories in eggs or steak. The fact is that the average American is consuming excess calories because they calories that they are eating are not satiating. They are metabolically broken; the brain is telling them to eat more food when the body clearly doesn’t need it.

Let’s say that I eat 100g of carbohydrates, which is 400 calories. I just had some Sour Patch Kids and my glycogen stores are already full. Everyone knows that if the glycogen stores are full, the body will convert the excess calories into fat. So that 400 calories I originally consumed is now converted into fat. Let us then say that later our body is requiring glucose, so in order to convert that 400 calories into glucose, we will have to undergo the process of gluconeogenesis.

How much energy is lost in the process of that 400 calories being converted twice? The point is that the idea of a calories being “just a calorie” violates the logic of energy conservation, as the method of metabolizing the calorie is dependent on what current state the body is in.

Multiple studies have shown that low-carb diets decrease appetite, and allows people to lose weight without counting calories or portion controlling. This is because fat is much more satiating than carbs.

One pound of fat is 3,500 calories. One pound of sugar is 1,775 calories. Cut the sugar, eat the fat, and you will have tricked the body into burning your fat, as well as being much more satiated. Eventually, you’ll start eating less calories because your meals will be more satiating.

When you compare the results of low-fat diets vs. low-carb diets the obvious truth becomes even more clear. Researchers who are comparing both diets will have to restrict the caloric content of the low-fat diets in order to make the results seem comparable, even though the low-carb dieters eat until fullness, and they STILL lose more weight.

The best thing about the ketogenic diet (or the even better carnivore diet), is that once your body is properly adapted to burning fat, you get to coast through life without worrying about weight loss. So much less energy is expended upon reading nutritional facts labels and meal planning. Eat fat and protein until you’re full, then stop.

Optimizing the human body for disease/illness prevention and health goes way beyond “just calories”.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17228046

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000282230501151X

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