Time after time, whenever I write or read other sites that discuss diet, nutrition and weight loss, invariably someone will always log in and repeat one of the biggest fallacies ever promulgated: that losing weight is a simple equation of burn more calories than you eat.
Calories Out > Calories In.
As one Anonymous commenter wrote in my last post: "The problem isn't where the calories are coming from so much as the amount."
This is fallacious. gallier2 made some excellent responses with links to Gary Taube's work to back it up.
That being said, I'd like to offer another perspective, from Mike Furci, the fitness expert and columnist for the online Men's magazine, Bullz-eye:
Many so-called experts think there is only one thing that matters when trying to lose weight: calories consumed versus calories used. They try to lead you to believe that a calorie of protein is equal to a calorie of fat is equal to a calorie of carbs, and that all you have to do is cut down the amount consumed to lose body fat. In order for this to be true, the physiological processes by which the human body transforms food into energy – metabolism – would have to be the same for every type of food. This is a simplistic, unscientific and untenable view.
All macronutrients -- including fats, carbohydrates and proteins -- contain energy. The energy contained in food is expressed as calories. We tend to associate calories with food, but in reality, calories apply to anything. For example, a gallon of gasoline contains approximately 31 million calories.
A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius at sea level. What does this mean? A Double Whopper with cheese contains 960 calories. If we were to burn this burger, it would produce 960 calories -- enough energy to raise 960 kilograms of water 1 degree Celsius.
Calorie is a shortened name for kilocalories, to reflect the simplified math. A kilocalorie contains 1,000 calories, so the Double Whopper with cheese is actually 960,000 calories. Now don't get your panties in a bunch -- this simplified math also applies to exercise calorie charts. If the piece of cardio equipment you're using says you burned 200 calories, it's simplified for 200,000 calories. However, don't rely on exercise equipment charts -- they are grossly inaccurate. This is due to several factors, mainly genetics, because the rate at which individuals burn calories varies greatly and cannot be measured on a piece of cardio equipment.
Calories can and are measured in a sealed device called a "calorimeter" which locks in heat of burning food. A small vacuum container of water is contained above the food. Once the food is completely burned, the temperature of the water is measured. The rise in temperature will determine the amount of calories. While the calorimeter can show the total amount of energy in a serving of Fruit Loops, it cannot account for what the human body doesn't absorb, or the energy used in the digestion and assimilation of it. It also cannot show one's ability and efficiency to use food as energy, as opposed to storing it as fat.
Does counting the number of calories consumed matter, or is it even necessary when trying to lose weight? No! Counting calories is completely inaccurate and a waste of time. Our bodies do not process food like a calorimeter. The assertion that macronutrients are all processed the same between individuals is just foolish. Yet, this is the basis for the calorie theory.
OUR BODIES DO NOT PROCESS FOOD LIKE A CALORIMETER
Does your stomach look like this?
As discussed earlier, a calorie is not a calorie. A calorie of a carbohydrate does not equate to a calorie of protein when being metabolized in our bodies. Protein calories are not likely to be stored as fat, as compared to carbs, because protein requires more energy to metabolize and assimilate and has numerous functions. Carbs are simply an energy source, and if not used as fuel, they are stored as fat without much effort. Carbs, unlike protein, also stimulate the release of high amounts of insulin, the fat storage hormone.
Tom Naughton, a comedian, was inspired to make a movie called Fathead, after he saw Michael Spurlock's famous anti-fast food film Super Size Me. In it, he offers a simplified animation that demonstrates how eating too much carbohydrates leads to your body storing fat tissue.
Finally, commenter John Smith (Blog author of recklessness and audacity) recommended that people check out the movie Food Inc.
Solid recommendation, brother! I've seen that movie as soon as it was available on Netflix. It basically re-affirmed everything I've studied, researched and applied into an easy to understand film.
That movie details precisely why our food supply and the conventional wisdom regarding diet and nutrition has been so thoroughly corrupted by the fascist conglomeration of big agricultural corporations and their cohorts in the Government.