Our Faith in Calorie Restriction:
Is It Unfounded?

Our faith in calorie restriction as a treatment for obesity comes from the Caloric Balance Hypothesis.

This idea tells us that "Calories In" and "Calories Out" control how much fat we accumulate in our fat tissue and how much fat gets mobilized from the fat tissue for fuel. It's all a matter of simple accounting. Our fat tissue acts as a piggy bank for calories.

Our public health authorities have so much faith in this calorie restriction idea that they don't even bother calling it a hypothesis. As Gary Taubes explains, any person who argues with the conventional idea that calories count "is seen as willfully disregarding a scientific truth."[1]

So what is the reality? Is the Caloric Balance Hypothesis really the only/best way to interpret the energy balance equation? Has the Lipophilia Hypothesis somehow been refuted? Have proponents of calorie restriction adequately and thoroughly accounted for any and all paradoxes and contradictions associated with their theory?

Given the nearly unanimous consensus around the mainstream hypothesis, one might assume that the theory has been supported beyond a shadow of a doubt -- much in the same way that physicists have "proven" the law of gravity or that biologists have "proven" natural selection.

After all, if everyone believes it -- and by 'everyone' we must include the most gifted scientists, clinicians, researchers, and nutritionists of the past half century -- then surely it must be true. Because if all these people all screwed up in such a fundamental way, then we'd be forced by logic to conclude that much of our scientific knowledge must be premised on bogus and bad hypotheses.

So what is it? Is the Caloric Balance Hypothesis bulletproof? Or is our conventional way of doing science so flawed that 50+ years worth of research into obesity and disease could lead us to conclusions so far off the mark from reality that they've inadvertently made us sicker and fatter?

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Return to page on the debate over whether the mainstream has gotten it all wrong

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10.18.11 Beyond Caloriegate Cover Art

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References

1. Taubes, Gary. "Good Calories, Bad Calories." New York: Knopf. (2007)

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