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A calorie is a calorie? Opinion about this article

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Old 02-28-2013, 02:17 PM   #16
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ohhhh! I love your kitties, gailr! I have one that could be their triplet!
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:31 PM   #17
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The kitties aren't even related.

As far as expert opinion goes, I think it is very important not to let it derail us. The devil is not necessarily in the minute details that the scientists study. What we care about here is whether or not we are losing weight and getting healthy.

Also, I meant to point out that Aragon says we should include a preponderance of minimally processed foods. He did not say "NEVER" eat anything that isn't organic or a slice of cheap white bread with grape jelly. He said choose wisely. IMHO, anyway.
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:20 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin41 View Post
A calorie is simply a measurement of energy. One calorie is one calorie. That doesn't mean that there aren't other factors at work, and how the body reacts to the various forms that calories come in is certainly relevant to overall health.

That being said, I think the good doctor has stumbled onto a catchy phrase that he hopes will make him a lot of money and get him onto Dr. Oz. I also question anybody who cites a single study as irrefutable proof of anything. To call an issue settled after a single study is not good science.
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No doubt about it a calorie is a calorie.

No doubt about it the body processes different substances differently.

He is certainly right but in my opinion he overstates the case by not bringing in the context of dose.
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Originally Posted by gailr42 View Post
Down towards the very end of the Alan Aragon article, he says that, "The big picture solution is in managing total caloric balance with a predominance of minimally processed foods and sufficient physical activity." In my opinion this is 100% correct. If you don't like to read all the science, non-science and everything else in between, this one statement says it all. Eat a reasonable amount of real food, and get out from behind the computer screen [message to self].
Quote:
Originally Posted by gailr42 View Post

As far as expert opinion goes, I think it is very important not to let it derail us. The devil is not necessarily in the minute details that the scientists study. What we care about here is whether or not we are losing weight and getting healthy.

Also, I meant to point out that Aragon says we should include a preponderance of minimally processed foods. He did not say "NEVER" eat anything that isn't organic or a slice of cheap white bread with grape jelly. He said choose wisely. IMHO, anyway.
All of this!
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:41 PM   #19
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Lustig's hypothesis is overly simple and, given who he makes recommendations to and his field of practice, such a statement makes much more sense. And certainly, it takes care of a huge portion of the problem. But yes, it isn't the whole story. I think he ignores the effect of starch (ie: sugar upon basic metabolizing) on the body, and that energy balance is a factor for many folks who are not medically obese, as well. But overall it is a good article and his work, especially clinical experience, is noteworthy.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #20
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I've listen to Lustig's lecture, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" and it really resonated with me, but I think I was probably looking for something to convince me to ditch processed and packaged foods.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:52 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by gailr42 View Post
Thank you for sharing an interesting article.

For my purposes, a calorie is a calorie. I think, if you read more about this particular thesis, you will see that there are different ways of assigning calorie content. For instance, some nutritional analyses count the calories in both soluble and insoluble fiber. So we may not know exactly what the calorie count means to our bodies.

People who make comments on articles like this tend to be very passionate in their views. Unless you want to spend the rest of your life doing research, you probably need to take it all with a grain of salt, so to speak.

Only you can know what works for your mind and body. If sweet foods make you have terrible cravings for more sweet stuff, you need to think about what this means to you. If you can't eat just one slice of cheese [talking about me on this one], you need to think about practical solutions to the cheese problem. My solution here is to not buy cheese.

Calorie counting is an imperfect science. Be consistent, honor what works for you, and be honest with yourself and you will do fine.
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Old 03-02-2013, 04:18 AM   #22
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I agree with the "catch phrase" thing. Anyway, I look at it like this, the "a calorie is a calorie" thing is like saying a pound of feathers and a pound of lead weigh the same thing.

Foods have more properties than just calories and our body uses them in different ways, just the same as feathers and lead have more properties than just weight.

I'd probably rather stuff my pillow with that pound of feathers and use the lead for a doorstop than vice versa.

Back in the day before calorie trackers became common and free, there used to be some software that marketed the "breakthrough" idea of including the calories involved in digesting food in their calculations. i.e. if you logged 100 calories of chicken breast, it wouldn't count the same in your log as 100 calories of Twinkies. I wonder if it's still around.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:49 AM   #23
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I think a calorie is a calorie but how your body responds to the food is what determines weight loss. I have insulin resistance and when my calories come from processed sugar or bad carbs I don't lose weight even though I eat exactly same amount of calories,. Intact I put weight on. But I guess if someone had normal hormone function it be different
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:54 PM   #24
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The problem with "a calorie is a calorie" logic is that it does assume that, at least for weight loss, 50 calories of broccoli are equivalent to 50 calories of candy bar.

A really gross, but dramatic example:

The problem is that some foods are not entirely digested (or digested at all) which is why some animals eat from other animals poo, if corn and other seeds were entirely digested, birds wouldn't be interested in picking them from poo.

Another extreme (not gross) example is fiber calories. Humans cannot digest cellulose (fiber), so the calories aren't available to us. Hay, tree leaves and wood have calories, many animals survive on nothing else, but if humans tried to, they would starve to death, because the calories in cellulose are not available to us, because our gut can't break it down.

So why are cellulose calories included on many nutrition labels?

In many countries, they're not (and not allowed to be), but in the USA the fiber calories CAN be subtracted, but they don't HAVE to be. In my experience, most USA-based calorie counting resources, at least online, the fiber calories for natural foods tend to be included, but are often (but not always) subtracted from processed foods, making processed foods seem like they contain fewer calories in comparison to the natural foods.

Resistant starch and sugar alcohols (the sugars ending in -ol like sorbitol) are other substances humans cannot digest entirely, problem in counting them, is that research seems to suggest that some people have less trouble digesting them, so that one person might absorb half the calories, and someone else might absorb zero.


All that being said, calorie-counting (as inaccurate as it is) is still one of the most useful tools available for weight loss. At the very least, it provides a "worst case scenario," for weight loss purposes. That in itself is useful.

Since I joined Weight Watcher at 8 years old, I've used exchange plans to count calories (WW was exchange-plan based until the mid-90's). I've used the information found in the article to adjust my diet by swapping out some of the starch exchanges for protein and vegetable exchanges of equivalent calories.

When I follow it, I do indeed lose a bit better than when most of my calories are coming from carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, I get very bored and frustrated with exchange plans and any kind of food documenting and when I stop documenting, I stop losing, and often gain.

In my experience, it's the counting that matters, not what is counted or how the counting is done.

So count calories, exchanges, points, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, pre-measured food replacement "packets".....anything... but count SOMETHING.

Even documenting without counting can help some, because simply reviewing your food log can help you reduce your calorie intake.


I think articles like this one are informative, and can certainly influence the food choices you make, but they have very little if any value for HOW you choose to count, because there's no way (as of yet) to quantitatively measure the calorie differential, so for counting purposes, we're still left as a calorie is a calorie (minus fiber calories, if you feel like doing the math to see whether they've been counted or not - I usually don't).
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