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Annik 08-11-2013 10:32 AM

Not All Calories are Alike! Thermodynamic Edge for Low Carbohydrate Diets
Thermodynamic Edge For Low Carbohydrate Diets: SUNY Downstate Researchers Say All Calories Are NOT Alike

In a paper published in Nutrition Journal (Open Access, available without subscription at http://www.nutritionj.com/home), two researchers from SUNY Downstate Medical Center show that low carbohydrate, high protein diets can be expected to be more effective than low fat diets, going against long standing prejudice of the nutritional community, which has claimed that only calories count.

(PRWEB) July 31, 2004 -- “There are numerous examples of low carbohydrate diets being more effective than low fat diets with the same number of calories. It doesn’t always happen but it can happen,” said Dr. Richard Feinman of the Department of Biochemistry. “The nutritional establishment has been reluctant to accept this, because they say it violates the law of thermodynamics. However, they never seriously look at the thermodynamics, which not only says its possible, but it is to be expected.” he added.

In their paper, Dr. Feinman and Dr. Eugene J. Fine explain that thermodynamics is as much about efficiency as it is about energy conservation. Carbohydrate is an efficient fuel, whereas protein is not. On a low carbohydrate/high protein diet, even though total energy is conserved, more energy is wasted as heat, a process known as thermogenesis. This energy comes from burning fat.

The researchers stress that “the human body is not a storage locker. It is a machine and the efficiency of the machine is controlled by hormones and enzymes. Carbohydrates increase insulin and other hormones that regulate enzymes, leading to storage rather than burning of fat.”

“Of course, people are different” said the authors, “but many people are sensitive to the effects of carbohydrates and for them, a low carb diet is going to work well.”

The practical point is that getting rid of the idea that “a calorie is a calorie” opens the door for serious research into what kind of diets will be most effective and which people will benefit most. “This is important,” they explain “because millions of people are seriously trying to lose weight on low carbohydrate diets, and instead of being given directions on the best way to do this, they have been largely discouraged by health professionals and self-appointed expert groups. The obesity epidemic is too important to allow this to happen.”

Note to editors/reporters: You can read the entire scientific paper by going to http://www.nutritionj.com/home and clicking on “Provisional PDF” at the bottom of the headline.


Jacqui_D 08-16-2013 02:16 PM

Thank you for this article, Annik. I'm reading a book right now, Living Low Carb, Revised Edition by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, that also says carbs affect weight loss, that it's not just a "calories in/calories out" thing. I don't know if this is true for everybody, but it seems to be true for me. I yo-yo dieted for years and my diet of choice was always calorie counting. This time around, I am cutting back on carbs and something is definitely different. I'm not having the same hunger and cravings as I've always had before. This way is so much easier. My friends find it strange when I tell them this diet is easy, but compared to what I have always done, I really don't have a better way of explaining it. I'm not struggling. It's like my mind and body are finally working together. And I'm losing weight, so it's working for me.

luckymommy 08-16-2013 03:14 PM

I appreciate you posting this article. For me, I lose weight as long as I restrict calories but having lower amount of carbs certainly helps me keep the calorie count lower.

kaplods 08-16-2013 03:28 PM

It's always calories in/calories out, but people forget that calories in are far easier to measure than calories out. The also forget to consider the possibility that what is taken in might affect the rate calories are burned or even if they're burned.

Flax seed and many other seeds can only be digested if the seed casing is cracked or broken. Whole flax seed are calorie-free for humans if they're not ground or chewed to crack or break the seed.

Corn is another food that isn't always completely digested.

Fiber, sugar alcohols, resistant starch... all contain calories that humans can't digest or can only partially digest (and undigested calories are unused calories).

It's surprising to me that "all calories are equal" logic is still commonplace. By that logic, we should be able to eat wood and hay.

Emma4545 09-07-2013 09:44 AM

I think this is very true. Though, someone told me once that if you eat too much protein, the body will turn turn some of it into carbs so I don't know what the magic potion is to avoid that. I get so tired of the calories in calories out stuff -- I think the likely truth is that losing weight is insanely complicated and too complex for anyone to really capture everything that happens. So, lazy people, revert to a fiction to simplify things.

tefrey 09-09-2013 02:14 PM

One thing about diets that focus on one aspect is that the food industry is always quick to mess them up. When low fat was proposed people did great, until the food industry noticed and started make low fat food that had so much sugar that low fat often had equal or more calories than regular! Same thing happened with Atkins, and I see it happening now with Gluten free. I'm doing high fiber and it's unbelievable how many garbage foods are now touting fiber because they've been fortified with fake fiber.

And soon the grocery shelves will be full of low carb foods that contain tons of added fat and low carb will seem to stop working.

So I think you should pick a plan that works for you, but that you will always have to keep an eye on calories, just to protect yourself.

Exhale15 10-21-2013 09:26 PM

I think the 'low carb' thing is true from the biochemistry basis of how the body responds to sugar. But we have to remember that most carbs we eat are man-made -breads, pastries, etc. And low carb junk food is still junk. I think that eating natural foods is what our bodies evolved with & what's best. ( now if only I could stick to it)

lotsakids 10-22-2013 03:51 PM

As a diabetic, low carbing is how I keep my blood sugars level. I can see a spike with something as healthy as oatmeal or an apple. Pairing the oatmeal with protein (usually nuts) helps to keep the level from rising to overly high numbers. I usually just stay away from the oatmeal and the apple but sometimes it hits the sweet spot. Learning to increase the fat, lower the simple carbs and eat just enough protein to keep me in the area I need to be for blood sugar first and weight loss second.

CherryQuinn 10-27-2013 11:32 AM

I dont do anything other than calorie count and lose weight perfectly fine, might not be true for everyone, but I don't buy into all these fad research findings. every week is something different making us fat and something else that will make us skinny, but eating less and moving more certainly works for me lol no magic.

Exhale15 10-27-2013 09:34 PM

I did really well once upon a time by eating only enough to not be hungry. I realized that if I ended my meal before I was no longer hungry, I would feel satiated after waiting a few minutes. It was freeing. But really shocking how oversized most servings are. I've started back with it and I'm feeling better. Eat less move more be happy

diamondgeog 12-21-2013 08:25 AM

I've found this to be my experience. Especially if you have a high carb diet for a long time. And low carb high carb goes way beyond even that article.

I think it is very common for people on high carb diets to be hungry all the time because they are storing calories not using them. I used to have 1700 HUNDRED fast food meals with a ton of carbs and be hungry again in less than 2 hours.

Carbs also made me very lethargic. Does it really take a genius either individually or a society to say wow here is a 500 calorie meal that provides good nutrition, feelings of fullness for hours, and makes the person feel energized but you know this 500 calories that leads to massive hunger and extreme tiredness is the same. 500 calories equals 500 calories.

To me it is insane for anyone in this field to keep ignoring how many people are affected by carb cravings for more when they eat carbs.

There was absolutely no way I could have lost weight without reducing carbs as my big diet goal. Why? As I said they make me REALLY hungry when I eat them. And I am Far from the only one.

So how do you get a handle on losing weight if you are hungry and tired all the time? You expirement with what might be the main thing and see if targeting that works and it did for me. IMO if Americans got a handle on breads, pasta, potatoes, ice cream, candy, even whole grain stuff we would see a nation transformed.

Low carb is not a fad. Targeting fats instead of sugar and carbs by government and popular society as the culprit 40-50 years ago sent America down the obesity rabbit hole. It not only effects the eating but exercise also by making so many so tired. Double whammy. Actually triple. Makes many so hungry they turn into over eaters.

kaplods 12-21-2013 05:40 PM

I've been trying to lose weight for 43 years, and studying the research and nutrition theories.

I don't see the research as being inherently inconsistent. Rather each well-designed study (and you need to understand research design a little bit to judge this) simply provides insight into one very small piece of a very big puzzle.

Carb-tolerance seems to be highly variable. Genetics, age, fitness, general health, exercise, dietary variables, stress and sleep patterns, perhaps even climate/temperature may each play a role.

When I was younger, I lost about as well on high carb as low-carb. Now the difference is much more dramatic.

On high carb, I'm far hungrier and feel like crap. The more high glycemic carbs I eat, the more I crave and the crappier I feel.

On low-carb (high veggie, as I'm not counting fiber carbs) I feel less hungry and more energetic and alert.

Unfortunately, I'm also quite "carb-addicted," and find it very difficult to avoid the foods that make me sick.

I find the research supporting low-carb and paleo very compelling, but probably because it is consistent with my experience. I read my first low-carb and paleo books more than 30 years ago and at the time, dismissed the books and the supporting research for three main reasons:

It was considered controversial and not supported by the medical/dietary community.
It wasn't entirely consistent with my own experience.
The extreme versions of the diets available made me quite ill (with what I now recognize as low blood sugar).

I tend to be rather conservative in trusting the mainstream medical and dietary communities. I didn't give low-carb much respect or experimentation until my doctor suggested that I try low-carb, but warned me not to go too-low (admitting he had no idea what "too low" might be).

I've been experimenting ever since to fing that almost-magical "sweet spot."

I now believe that highly concentrated sources of starches and sugars (even the "healthy ones" ) can be as damaging and addictive as narcotics), at least as addictive as nicotine and caffeine and possibly worse (at least one study found that cocaine-addicted rats, when given a choice, choose sugar over cocaine more often than not).

No single study proves anything. Evidence gains credibility only by cumulative findings, and you need to know the history to see the patterns emerging. I've studied more than 60 years worth of research and would argue that there's ample evidence for reducing sugar and simple starch intake.

While I believe there's a lot more we don't know about health and nutrition than what we do know, I think it's still a safe bet to recommend eating fewer simple and small-chain carbohydrates and more high fiber, highly colored, low-calorie vegetables and low-sugar fruits.

The best advice, supported by virtually all of the research is to eat more low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables (more both in quantity and variety).

Even though this is advice most agreed-upon, it is also the advice least followed.

The research finds the best health effects peak at about the 10 serving point for vegetables and fruit, but most Americans aren't even getting three, unless you count potato and corn.

The only low-freggie, virtually all-animal versions of low-carb supported by the science, are from cultural traditions in which every part of the animal is eaten, so unless you're eating bone, fat, blood, skin, tendon, cartilage, and organ meat (maybe even a bit of hair), not just muscle - you need to be eating a wide vatiety of vegetables and low-sugar fruit.

And yet, the most commonly followed low-carb diet in practice is the "slab-o-meat, eggs and maybe lettuce, drowned in fat " diet.

Even the low-carb diets that allow unlimited low-calorie veggies, rarely require more than 2-3 servings of veggies, and even then, variety isn't stressed enough.

Losing weight is a matter of eating fewer calories than you burn, but a health-promoting diet is so much more.

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