If you are reading this right now, and you happened to read my previous posts, it means you are part of the elite group of faithful followers (my PR manager tells me there are 10 of you including 6 family members who have no other choice!!) who have an open mind about lifestyle and dietary choices. That is awesome. It is a huge incentive for me to keep writing knowing that you want to make some healthful choices. Thanks for making this worthwhile.
I promise you, it’s pretty simple. It’s pretty simple if you can filter out all the totally nonsensical stuff you have been hearing all these years. It’s pretty simple if you understand the ‘why’. Why we were made to believe what is today ‘conventional wisdom’. You got a fair idea about it in my previous post – First do no harm – BigFood throws big money to shape ‘conventional wisdom’. But there is also another ‘why’ and that is the human physiology. You need to know and understand this as well to be able to make the right choices.
It’s obvious that BigFood and the so-called ‘health’ institutions weren’t set up to be benevolent, altruistic, purveyors of sound health and diet choices, they were set up from the get go to make money plain and simple…even Not for profit business’ have financial perks for the founders. It’s like the Cali Cartel advising the ‘health institutions’ on how rock cocaine is natural and somehow good for us…
Once upon a time we had a culture of food to guide us through the increasingly treacherous landscape of food choices. Culture in this case is just a fancy way of saying “grandma”. She taught us what to eat, when to eat it, how much of it to eat, even the order in which to eat it. But ‘grandma’s’ influence over the dinner menu has proved no match for the multi-billion food-marketing dollars designed to get us to eat more and eat all manner of dubious neo-foods.
But then came the big problem. In spite of the ‘heart check’ certifications and the multi-billion marketing dollars spent to assure us that these neo-foods were good, the obesity epidemic was getting out of hand. People were getting fatter and sicker. Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease were becoming far too common. A culprit had to be found.
“Calories”! Calories was the perfect scapegoat. It’s not the food to blame, they said. It is not our recommendations to blame, they said. It’s you, they said. You eat too much, they said. Eat less calories, they said.
There is no company that sells calories, no brand called calories. Nameless and faceless, it was the ideal stooge. They said that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ whether it comes from cola or broccoli, it doesn’t matter. They had ‘health experts’ say the same thing again and again. In other words, they were telling you that eating BigFood was just fine. You are fat because you are greedy!!
Show me a single person who got fat eating too much broccoli.
The F.D.A said it wants to initiate a consumer education campaign, focusing on a ‘calories count’ message. ‘Those who consume more calories than they expend in energy will gain weight. There is no getting around the laws of thermodynamics. – The New York Times, December 1, 2004.
We know all about sponsored education campaigns, don’t we? The Laws of Thermodynamics?! You got to be kidding! Someone was paid s*$% load of green bucks to come up with this one!!
They have convinced us that our bodies are Bomb calorimeters. These machines — the machines they use to determine the total amount of calories (energy) in a particular food—are closed systems. They do not interact with anything. No enzymes are required to oxidize the food; hormones don’t come into play based on the type of food being burned. In a bomb calorimeter, 300 calories of Maggi are equivalent to 300 calories of fish fry, or 300 calories of Kookie-Jar chocolate pyramid, or 300 calories of steamed carrots.
Let’s first get a bit science-y here.
A calorie is simply a unit of energy. It is the energy released when certain foods are burned in a laboratory. Certain foods contain more, and some less calories. It doesn’t matter whether these foods are protein, fat or carbohydrate. We can burn them in a laboratory (or in our bodies) and determine the amount of heat released. As a general rule carbohydrates contain between 4 kcal per gram; proteins are about the same; fats contain approximately 9 kcal per gram.
The first law of thermodynamics says that the change in energy of a closed system is equal to the energy entering the system less the energy leaving the system.
This is so simple that the problem with how the experts interpret the law begins to become obvious. All the first law says is that if something gets more or less massive, then more energy or less energy has to enter it than leave it. It says nothing about why this happens.
If you asked me the question ‘why is this room so crowded?’ and I said –‘Well, because more people entered the room than left it’ –you’d think I was making a wise- crack, being too cheeky or was an idiot. Of course more people entered the room. That’s obvious, but why?
This is what happens when thermodynamics is used to conclude that unbalanced calories (eating more moving less) makes us fat. It tells us that if we get fatter and heavier, more energy enters our body than leaves it. Overeating means we’re consuming more energy than we’re expending. It says nothing about why we consume more calories than we expend. Why are we overeating?
Another assumption about the law of thermodynamics happens to be grossly incorrect – that the energy we consume and the energy we expend have little influence on each other. That we can consciously change one (eat less) and it will have no consequence on the other (expend energy), and vice versa. We will soon see that this is so not true!
Of all the dangerous ideas that health experts could have embraced while trying to understand why we get fat, they would have been hard-pressed to find one ultimately more damaging than Calories-in/calories-out. That it reinforces what appears to be obvious – obesity as the penalty for gluttony and sloth – makes it so alluring. – Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat.
It shifts the blame on us. Not only is this thinking at least partly responsible for the ever-growing numbers of obese and overweight – while directing attention away from the real reasons we might be getting fat (the food) – but it has served to reinforce the perception that those who are fat have only themselves to blame. That overweight people are either greedy or lazy or both.
They are able to convince the ‘experts’ and celebrities from Michelle Obama to the FDA to virtually all of the medical professionals (including doctors and dieticians) that ‘Eat Less, Move More’ is the way to go. So convincing, you might think that it is 100% unquestionably true. But here’s a thought… if we all agree that we know the ‘cure’ for obesity, and we’ve spent billions on educations and programs, we have fitness centers all over the town – why are we getting fatter? In other words, why does this ‘cure’ suck so bad?
A tale of 20 calories!!
A pound of fat contains approx. 3500 calories worth of energy. This is why dieticians, government literature, just about every diet book and the internet tells us that losing a pound a week requires that we create an average energy deficit of 500 calories per day. So let’s see how many calories we have to overeat daily to accumulate 2 new pounds (0.90 kg) of fat every year or 50 pounds (22.68 kg) in 25 years. That’s how it normally is, right? You were a strapping lean 25 year old weighing 62 kilos and now on your 50th birthday the scale betrays you and you are struggling to hide the 85 kilos! How much did you overeat all these years, you glutton?
Just 20 calories a day!! 20 calories times 365 makes it 7000 calories in a year – 2 pounds of excess fat per year – 50 pounds in 25 years.
20 calories is less than a single bite of a McDonald’s hamburger, it is not even one small cookie, less than 3 potato chips, 3 small bites of an apple (remember – a calorie is a calorie – you can ditch the apple and grab a few more chips!)
20 calories is less than 1% of your daily caloric intake.
I can’t understand how anyone can stay lean if all it takes to grow gradually obese is to overeat by 20 calories daily!
In fact, even those who are overweight or obese, in spite of being fat, manage to maintain their weight perfectly for years by balancing the calories they eat with the calories they expend! Wow! Such perfection can be equaled by few mechanical devices.
Assuming that we are consciously eating 500 calories less every day, we would lose a pound a week, 52 pounds (24 kilos) a year and gradually disappear from earth in 3 years time!! I am sure even my 9 year-old daughter will think this is a really silly joke.
That’s how simple it is to lose weight. Case closed! Let me start writing a new blog…..
How easily people are sucked into this kind of utter nonsense. The unsuspecting populations try and try hard to balance these ridiculous numbers and when it doesn’t work, they blame themselves. Maybe I took an extra bite of that delicious apple! And the learned community of health practitioners, not knowing any better, will tell them to walk more and more and even more. When that doesn’t work – ‘you’re walking too slowly, try running!’ And when that doesn’t work – ‘this time you ate that ice cream, didn’t you?! Shift the blame!!
Our bodies are simply not Bomb calorimeters! In contrast, they are dynamic open systems. We interact with our external environment (think air) and, most importantly, our internal environment (think hormones and enzymes) changes based on different inputs we receive from the food we eat, the movements we perform, and even how much sleep we get, from daylight or from darkness. Considering how different the biochemical effects of those foods would be upon a human being, it’s really tragic, that we have based the last few decades of health and fitness advice on nothing but consuming fewer calories, with little regard to where those calories come from.
Why didn’t our parents, or grandparents, or the generations before them become obese in spite of never having seen the inside of a fitness studio? What the hell! They didn’t know what a calorie was!!
Half a century ago, endocrinologist Edwin Astwood suggested that perhaps the answer lies in the ‘dozens of enzymes’ and the ‘variety of hormones’ that control how our bodies ‘turn what is eaten into fat’.
Yet the logic of Calories-in/calories-out hypothesis allows only one acceptable answer – the defect cannot lie in the body – and the entire science of obesity got caught up in this logic and it’s never been able to escape it.
My posts tend to get really long so stay tuned for the continuation of the calorie funda…..