The Calorie Counter Mentality: Most of Us Believe That All Calories Are "Equal":
But Is That Actually the Case?

Who isn't a calorie counter these days? Over 300 million people worldwide are obese, and over a billion are overweight, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

When we talk about dieting, almost inevitably the conversation circles back to the concept of calorie control. We constantly hear the refrain that "calories count" and that the key to weight loss therefore must be to manipulate energy balance by eating less and exercising more.

Is It True That "A Calorie Is a Calorie"?

  • 1000 Calories of Olive Oil
  • 1000 Calories of Sugar
  • 1000 Calories of Sunflower Seeds
  • 1000 Calories of Turkey

Would These Foods Really Have Identical Effects on Your Fat Tissue?

This calorie counter mentality comes from a theory of obesity called the Caloric Balance Hypothesis. This theory presupposes that "a calorie is a calorie." In other words, the quantity of calories is all that really matters. The quality of the calories we eat does not matter.

Our second idea, the Lipophilia Hypothesis, argues that the quality of the calories we eat does, in fact, matter. When we eat calories than drive us to secrete insulin, for instance, this will cause weight gain. But when we eat calories that do not impact our insulin, this will not lead to weight gain. So calories from carbohydrates (especially refined sugars and flour) make us fat because they cause us to secrete insulin. But calories from dietary fat will not fatten us, because they don't cause us to secrete insulin.

So what does the real world evidence tell us about which theory is most likely correct?

1. Energy in and energy out are dependent variables.

2. The body sees the energy from different foods differently, so being a calorie counter is not enough.

3. Carbohydrates break down into sugar.

4. Proteins break down into amino acids.

5. Fats break down into triglycerides and free fatty acids.

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And while you're here... :]

10.18.11 Beyond Caloriegate Cover Art

Check this out: The Black Box: A NEW Way of Thinking about Fat Loss (Or: The Actual, Legit, For Real (Seriously!) Reason Why You Cannot Lose Fat, Even Though You Are, Indeed, “Eating Less And Moving More")

I know it sounds hyperbolic, but I believe that this Black Box concept is the key -- perhaps our ONLY hope -- for solving the obesity epidemic. In other words, without The Black Box, or something like it, our society is doomed to be destroyed by obesity, diabetes and other diet-related chronic diseases. No joke. I 100% believe this. So check it out!