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Old 06-20-2012, 01:36 PM   #16  
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I disagree with the idea that a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes form. Your body uses and digests the calories and nutrients from protein very differently than the calories from sugar. Along with the idea that fat makes you fat it just isn't true.

A 150 calories chocolate bar contains very little in the way of nutrition compared to say a banana (although they both contain a lot of sugar). Both will cause a spike in blood sugar and conversely insulin which isn't healthy. The reason the banana might make you feel full longer is mainly because it contains quite a bit of fiber.

There have been studies done where subjects are placed on a restricted calorie diet with three different option the majority of calorie coming from carbohydrates/simple sugars, calories coming mainly from lean protein, and calories coming mainly from fat. The subjects on the fat and protein diets lost weight, the subjects on the carbohydrate diet actually gained weight. All three groups ate the same number of calories for the same period of time.

To look only at calories is really short sighted in my mind because it really doesn't take into account how your body actually uses those calories or the nutrition contained in those calories.
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:43 PM   #17  
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In my experience, unless a food had a psychological effect (such as making me crave more to the point where I eat too much) or a physical effect (making me so tired I move less and therefore burn less) my rate of loss was never affected-I've always been able to lose at the same rate as long as I had the same cal deficit - I have been able to lose eating everything in moderation, taking out certain foods in my diet etc. While I feel better losing weight with my current diet, I am not losing at a faster or slower rate.

I found this article interesting
http://www.maxcondition.com/page.php?11
Here are some excerpts
"However, in those studies, you generally see minimal (if any) differences in terms of the amount or composition of the weight lost when you vary the different nutrients. Studies have compared high to low-carbohydrate diets and even varying low-carbohydrate diets. With minor slop (maybe a pound or two here or there), any differences in the total amount of weight loss or the composition of the weight lost (again this assumes adequate protein intake in the first place) are very minor. Rather, the majority (easiliy 90% or more) of the change can be attributed directly to the caloric intake of the diet. Macronutrient composition makes a tiny, approaching negligble difference.

I should mention that studies comparing high to low-carbohydrate diets typically show greater weight losses in the low-carbohydrate group but this can generally be attributed to greater water losses. One or two studies have shown a slight trend towards greater fat loss in the low-carbohydrate group but it's rarely huge."
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:03 PM   #18  
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And then, of course, there was the "Twinkie Diet" guy...

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08...sor/index.html

I'm just say'n...
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:44 PM   #19  
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Originally Posted by Veela View Post
There have been studies done where subjects are placed on a restricted calorie diet with three different option the majority of calorie coming from carbohydrates/simple sugars, calories coming mainly from lean protein, and calories coming mainly from fat. The subjects on the fat and protein diets lost weight, the subjects on the carbohydrate diet actually gained weight. All three groups ate the same number of calories for the same period of time.
If true it was a poorly designed study at best.
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:28 PM   #20  
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There have been some well designed studies which have shown significant differences between metabolic rates for different proportions of nutrients.

And some of these well-designed studies were repeated with different results.

Personally, in looking at the studies more closely (and from my own experience), I suspect that it's the subject pool that makes the difference - especially the age and comorbid health issues of the subjects studied.

Many researchers eliminate older and sicker subjects from the subject pools - because they assume (probably rightly so) that age and health status could affect the results. But that means that they're often only looking at younger, healthier people (who I suspect processess carbs, fats, and protein more uniformly). So if you're not young and in great health, the results of the study may not apply to you.

Also research tends to be done on university campuses with university students as the primary subject pool (generally younger and healthier than the general population).

In my personal experience, when I was much younger, I didn't lose weight any better on low-carb diets than on high-carb diets or on healthy food than junk (except for those first two weeks of reducing or increasing carbs - but that's mostly water weight. I do think I've always been hungrier on high-carb diets, but in terms of calorie intake, it didn't seem to matter much where the calories came from.

That's not so true anymore. I lose significantly better on 1800 calories of low-carb than on 1800 calories of high-carb (assuming absolute compliance and no cheats), probably for several reasons, even a few I'm not aware of.

One reason, bizarrely enough is that my body temperature is around a full degree higher on low-carb. Body temperature does reflect metabolic rate, so it suggests at least that my BMR is higher on low-carb.

I thought this was just a personal fluke, but I've since read on some of the autoimmune boards that this is actually quite common, especially among people with thyroid disfunction. I do have borderline low-thryoid - just a hair lower and my doctor would prescribe medication.

I've also been diagnosed with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes (some doctors say these are distinct disorders, others say they're the same thing). These are also diagnoses that seem to impact on metabolic rate and carb digestion. It's not uncommon for people with these issues to find that they lose significantlly better on a carb-restricted diet - even when calories are accounted for.

I also find that I have more energy, and therefore am more active (and able to burn more calories) when I'm eating lower-carb, whole food than when I'm eating higher carb and/or processed foods. So, it's important to remember that what you're eating can affect the "calories out" part of the equation, and how much it effects the calories burned may depend on your age, general health, weight, activity level, and perhaps even your DNA.

Digestion also burns calories itself, and some foods are easy to digest (burning few calories in the digestive process) and other foods are harder to digest (burning more calories).

So 150 calories of chocolate doesn't require as much digestive processing as 150 calories of broccoli. So not only does the broccoli fill you up faster, and satisfy you longer, the body has to work harder to digest it (and by work, I mean calories burned).

Now there's a lot of misinformatin about there (like the idea that some foods are so difficult to digest that you burn more calories digesting them than the calories in the foods. For the most part, this theory is nonsense).
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:34 PM   #21  
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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
I...it's important to remember that what you're eating can affect the "calories out" part of the equation, and how much it effects the calories burned may depend on your age, general health, weight, activity level, and perhaps even your DNA.
Very good point.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:27 AM   #22  
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A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, macronutrients are somewhat insignificant in fat loss unless you're trying to cut under 12% body fat. Of course, there are factors that can change that, insulin resistance, it can depend person to person.

I myself eat just about whatever as long as it fits into my caloric budget daily. I don't see a difference in my fat loss between low carbohydrates, other than having less energy. Diet on twinkies, they said!
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:21 AM   #23  
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If true it was a poorly designed study at best.
Why do you say that?
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:38 AM   #24  
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Originally Posted by delyn View Post
i think a banana would leave me a little more satisfied than a chocolate bar, but both would probably make me still want to eat/snack more because of the sugar.

something that is 105 calories but filled with protein is going to leave you more satisfied than something that is 105 calories worth of carbs / sugar.
This is exactly right. I think the whole thing is about eating well and and healthy.

Counting calories is good if that is something you can manage and handle, but it's not healthy unless the right type of foods are eaten.

The idea is to get a good balance of vitamins and minerals, fibre, calcium, protein...etc
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:47 AM   #25  
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What is the difference between getting 105 calories from a banana vs 105 calories from half a chocolate bar?
I don't even like chocolate that much, I am just using this as an example.
In the simplest of terms: there is NO difference calorie wise. A calorie REALLY IS "just a calorie" - regardless of where it comes from. One gram of fat has NINE calories. One gram of protein or carbs has FOUR calories. You can eat much more protein or carbs compared to fat to get the same amount (or less, or more) of calories.

There is a HUGE difference nutrient wise.

And that's the ugly truth.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:33 PM   #26  
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A calorie is a calorie if you're burning food with fire, but they don't all act the same in the body.

For example, humans can't digest the calories in cellulose (dietary fiber). This is proven, and in fact manufacturer's of food products are allowed to subtract the fiber calories from the nutrition labels - allowed to but not required to.

Unfortunately, the label doesn't have to inform consumers whether the fiber calories were subtracted or not.

This is true for calorie-counting websites as well. In some cases the fiber calories will be subtracted, sometimes they won't be, and you'll rarely be told one way or the other (if a food contains no fiber, the math will be right regardless - well except for sugar alcohols).

Sugar alcohols are another food that humans don't digest completely - but there's disagreement over how well they are digested. There's even some evidence that some people digest them better than other people. Which means a sugar alcohol sweetened candy may contain more calories for me than it does for you, or vice versa.

Now of course they "contain" the same number of calories, some of us may just "poop out" more of those calories than others.

Flaxseed is another good example. If you don't grind your flaxseeds (or at least crack them) you will not have gotten any calories, because you'll poop out intact seeds. You'll get none of the calories, nutrients or other benefits of the food, because it will come out of your body unchanged. Now the seeds - do still "have" calories, you just didn't get any of the calories.

This is gross, but it illustrates the point very clearly - some animals eat poo or stuff from other animal's poo. Does poop have calories? Well it shouldn't, if we assume a calorie is a calorie for weight loss purposes, but it isn't.

Most animals, including man don't digest everything. It's why some animals can survive eating poop or eating from poop. If a bird eats corn out of another animal's poop - which animal got the calories? Obviously the two animals "share" the calories, but how many were burned by the animal eating the corn from the cob, and how mamny were burned by the bird eating the corn from the poop of the first animal?

Also, digestion burns calories, and different foods burn at different rates. A great example is oatmeal. Instant oatmeal has the same number of calories per gram as steelcut oatmeal, but the processing of the instant oatmeal (cooking and pressing) makes it easier to digest - and easier to digest means fewer calories burned from digestion.

Instant oatmeal (even with no added sugar) digests more easily and more quickly than less processed oats. "Easier, quicker" digestion can mean fewer calories burned. It can also mean lower-calorie poo (meaning that the longer it takes to digest food, the greater chance that it can leave the body with some of those calories still intact).

Take 150 calories of apple and 150 calories of applesauce (applesauce made without sugar or other ingredients). Same calories, but not the same in the body. For one thing, you don't have to chew the applesauce. Chewing burns calories. Cooking the applesauce also breaks down the apples (much like digestion does). By eating the applesauce, you will have saved your body some of the work of digestion, and therefore calories that work would have burned.

The math of calorie intake, expenditures is extremely complicated. It's easiest to assume that all calories are equal (or at least relatively so), but the truth is a little more complicated.

Luckily, our math doesn't have to be exact to be effective. If you only eat whole foods that will require your body to "spend" more calories on digestion, you'll probably be able to eat a few more calories than if you eat only highly processed foods that are essentially partially pre-digested.

I suspect this is why I lose significantly more on 1800 calories of low-carb than on 1800 calories of high-carb. When I eat higher carb, I also eat more processed foods (so some of my digestion is done for me, meaning my body isn't spending as many calories on digestion as it does when I'm eating more whole, intact foods).

Some nutritional researchers theorize (with some research support) that even cooking can make more calories available. For example carrots and onions may have more useable calories when cooked (they technically would have the same number of calories, but you would absorb more of those calories from the cooked veggies than the raw). In other cases, cooking can remove some of the calories, for example a grilled steak will lose some calories as a result of fat dripping into the fire, as well as the calories "burned" by the fire itself. The burnt bits (the char on steaks and veggies) are carbohydrates turned to carbon (and water that evaporates). Carbon has no calories.

Now are more calories lost through burning, as calories saved by more efficient digestion because of the cooking? I have no clue.

For practical purposes, I think we have to assume that all calories are roughly equivalent - at least until we know more about the calorie-burning process. Right now we are able to measure the number of calories in food items, but we're not able to measure how well a body (especially a specific body) burns those calories.

The "calories out" part of the equation is essentially a black box. No matter what calculator or electronic body monitor we use, it's still all mostly guesswork. We can only measure the calories burned in hindsight - by how much weight is lost.

I think it's helpful to know that the more processed a food, the more calories your body will "save" in digestion - and for weight loss we don't want our bodies to save calories. We don't want efficient digestion, we want slow, cumbersome, inefficient digestion. So less processed foods make our bodies work harder (burn more calories) and that's what we want for weight loss.

It means we might be able to eat a few more calories (and get more filled up in the process) from unprocessed foods than if we choose primarily processed foods that are essentially pre-digested.

It pays to make your body work harder (even in digestion).

Last edited by kaplods; 06-21-2012 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:44 PM   #27  
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Why do you say that?
It is absolute nonsense to suggest that given identical calories one group would lose weight while another would gain weight. Regardless of individual differences in how we process calories you're still dealing with the laws of thermodynamics and while the output side of the energy equation might be different person to person in a group study you're going to deal with averages. I've looked at lots of low carb/high carb studies and adjusting for water weight the consensus is given adequate protein there is no metabolic advantage one way or another. (Potential adherence is another matter entirely.)

I personally doubt such a study exists but if it does it is at minimum poorly designed. At worst it is poorly designed on purpose.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:59 PM   #28  
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Thanks for the info, Kaplods. You always put things very clearly. The only thing I'm left to wonder about is: How significant are the differences in "work of digestion" among different foods? Say we're talking about an apple vs. applesauce. Does an apple take 5 extra calories to digest? 10? 20? I would love to have this type of information.

F.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:25 PM   #29  
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Also, are we talking dieted, formerly obese people or normal weight folks who have gained a little extra with carelessness and time? The physiologies of these people are NOT generally the same, and respond to nutrition (especially their insulin and leptin response) very differently. Calories matter, but you cannot store energy without the presence of insulin - its a physiological impossibility. So when it comes to dieting or remaining slim, keeping basal insulin steady and within normal ranges is going to yield the best weight control. Coincidentally, insulin release can be well controlled in several ways:

1. Eat in a narrow window, all foods stimulate insulin responses to some degree.
2. Eat less calories (less food volume), to achieve the same end as eating in a narrow window creates.
3. Eat a diet composed of foods that do not create an excess of secreted insulin and eventual insulin resistance. Ie: low sugar/starch. Fat, in fact, has the LEAST metabolically deleterious impact on energy storage. Even protein, in large quantities and without sufficient energy demands, will spike insulin.

These are things that mean a lot more in practical terms than just calories. If you are in a metabolically unfavorable condition for fat storage, the calories mean a lot less than when your cells are so resistant to insulin that they are constantly sending the signal of 'need more energy' and driving you to eat more and more energy dense food to makeup for the metabolic short circuit.

It's just not that simple. But calories DO matter, however the composition of them matters as much or more to overall health (especially if you are dealing with a morbidly obese or previously morbidly obese physiology, which likely already has a malfunction in hormone secretion that nutrition can sooth or exacerbate).
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:57 PM   #30  
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Calories matter, but you cannot store energy without the presence of insulin - its a physiological impossibility.
With respect - this is completely misleading. What diet would you propose one to consume where insulin would never be released?

Don't forget to read the comments in the above article ... they're priceless.

By the way when I say "with respect" I mean it.
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