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A calorie is a calorie? Opinion about this article

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Old 02-28-2013, 11:07 AM   #1
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Default A calorie is a calorie? Opinion about this article

I found this article to be interesting but don't understand all the science. Is he right? The comments at the bottom are also enlightening. Do you believe a calorie is a calorie?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert...b_2759564.html
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:21 PM   #2
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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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Old 02-28-2013, 12:43 PM   #3
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I believe in a sense that a calorie is a calorie. What that means for anyone, depends on what their goals are. Weight loss, health, overcoming food sensitivities etc.

For me, in my journey, I lost about the same amount of weight on a diet of 1200 calories of Popeye's fried chicken and Snickers chocolate as I did on 1200 calories of chicken breasts and veggies. Obviously one diet made my journey a lot easier and filled me up a lot better and another was a load of constant hunger and cravings, not to talk about whatever unknown damage was being done to my insides.

I think a calorie of junk is the same as a calorie of "real" food in terms of what it takes to burn it but definitely not in terms of how it makes you behave around food, or how it makes you feel or even look. And of course if you have food sensitivities, then a calorie becomes even less of a calorie in the real sense.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:44 PM   #4
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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.
Agree.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:45 PM   #5
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In Dr. Lustig's defense he does make some reasonable recommendations when it comes to dealing with childhood obesity such as cutting out soda and making kids be more active in exchange for "screen time" such as watching TV and playing video games... and I think regardless of how anyone feels about "a calorie is a calorie" and the whole "calories in, calories out" debate his presentation in "Sugar... The Bitter Truth" is worth watching... whether you believe him or not, because at least it gets people thinking about moving beyond just telling people to simply "eat less and move more" which when it comes to the obesity epidemic just doesn't seem to be working for so many people...
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:49 PM   #6
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I posted a link to a different article on the same concept not too long ago.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...bout-calories/

Yes, a calorie is a unit of energy. But caloric availability from food isn't that clear cut, nor is each individual body's utilization of that energy.

I don't believe that scientific knowledge about this is currently sufficient for anyone to modify their diet over it, but I think that continuing research will end up helping develop more effective treatments for obesity.

It took me a really long time to discover and accept how my body reacts to sugar and simple carbohydrates. It would have been a lot easier to have known that information a long time ago and developed a personal eating plan based on it.

I think that ultimately, people will be able to get detailed and specific information about their personal metabolism in a way that helps them optimize diet and activity to maintain good health.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:06 PM   #7
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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 02-28-2013, 01:13 PM   #8
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I actually do not think many proponents of low carb diets would disagree with that statement. It is essentially correct. However, it is a lot easier to stick to a diet that is low carb and many people have less cravings on a low carb plan. So, in a practical sense, you might say "a calorie is a calorie but some calories lead to eating more calories". I'm sure someone who is less stressed and better with words could phrase that better but that is basically a summary of my opinion
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:45 PM   #9
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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.

That said - if he was more reasonable we would have never heard of him.

Alan Aragon is one of my person favorites because he is very science based and always recognizes the importantance of context but most people will never hear of him because ... he is too boring. In fact he got a lot more popular when he took on Lustig.

This is a great read.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katrinakit View Post
I actually do not think many proponents of low carb diets would disagree with that statement. It is essentially correct. However, it is a lot easier to stick to a diet that is low carb and many people have less cravings on a low carb plan. So, in a practical sense, you might say "a calorie is a calorie but some calories lead to eating more calories". I'm sure someone who is less stressed and better with words could phrase that better but that is basically a summary of my opinion
I think you said it wonderfully.

From a weight loss perspective, a calorie may well be a calorie. That doesn't mean that sugar calories aren't a contributor to the high rate of diabetes in much of the western world, or that they doesn't cause cravings. I think there is widespread agreement that our processed food has way more sugar added to it than it needs.

I don't know anyone who says "all calories are created equal and are equally good/bad for your body". There aren't doctors going around saying "It doesn't matter if you eat 100% carbs (or protein) (or fat) as long as your calorie count is right." I think he set up a straw man and then tried to tear it down.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:59 PM   #11
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Wasn't Lustig part of the AHA recommendations of coming up with an acceptable daily "dose" of sugar... the recommendations of up to 6tsp for women and up to 9tsp for men? And while he does call fructose "poison" he does say that it is dose dependent.... just as ETOH with which he draws some of his conclusions as to the processing of fructose in the liver...
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Alan Aragon is one of my person favorites because he is very science based and always recognizes the importantance of context but most people will never hear of him because ... he is too boring. In fact he got a lot more popular when he took on Lustig.

This is a great read.
I really enjoyed that article. Thanks!
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:50 PM   #13
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I agree with the article. I think for some people it does matter where the calories come from. People say it's all calories in and calories out, simple as that... but I think some people will have a harder time losing on a diet high in sugar if sugar calories turn to fat quicker. Some foods also take energy to digest and burn more calories that way.... It might not matter so much at the higher weights, but when you start getting to goal weight, and getting the vanity pounds where those calories come from will matter I think.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:03 PM   #14
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I think I only somewhat agree with that article. I still lose weight when I eat junk food, as long as I stay under my calorie goal, but I definitely RETAIN more water when I consume carb-heavy (or the obvious, sodium-heavy) foods.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:15 PM   #15
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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].

Two interesting articles, great discussion!!
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