29 January 2013

Does Calorie Counting Work?

Here is an interesting blog post by Dr Andreas Eenfeldt: Why Calorie Counters are Confused?

We are biological beings, we are not simply a box where you put in and take out calories. The calories we eat are partitioned by hormones. Our hormones will determine where those calories will go. Many calories are needed when children are growing, these calories will go to grow bones and organs. When we are stressed, we secrete adrenaline (also a hormone) to burn calories to be able to fix the situation. All hormones work to burn calories, except for insulin.

When insulin (also a hormone) is high in our bloodstream (a result of a high carbohydrate and sugar diet), the calories we eat, end up in the fat tissues. Insulin is a hormone responsible for the deposition of fat in the fat tissues.
"The overall action of insulin on the adipocyte [the fat cells] is to stimulate fat storage and inhibit mobilization."
This is a quote from a textbook: Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach, it's for FREE online.

So, the simplistic view of "eating less and exercising more" is not a solution to long-term weight loss. It is more important to lower insulin levels to prevent the storage of fat, by reducing carbohydrates and sugar in the diet.

It is also important to note, that a calorie from protein (meat) takes more calories to digest than a calorie from carbohydrate (calories are also needed for digestion). Do calorie counters take this into account when adding up their calorie expenditure?

My question to calorie counters is: How do you know the number of calories you expend? You need calories to break down your food, to breathe, to walk, to think, for tissue repair, etc. How on earth are we able to know how much energy will our brain need for today's activities? 

A calorie is not simply a calorie.

You can listen to this podcast by Jimmy Moore with Dr Robert Lustig and learn more about calories.

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