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The True Definition of Calories i.e. "Why what you believe is extremist BS"

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  • *doesn't read thread*

    Calories do matter, they're basically what counts when it comes to weight change. Yes you can have genetic freaks who will put on fat in ridiculous proportions (like Ob mice), but they're the minority. Yes what you eat can make a difference (i.e. high carb, SAD vs primal/paleo/true healthy eating).
    The vast majority of people got fat because they ate too much and exercised too little.

    But people don't like taking responsibility, or admitting failure so they say:
    "Its genetics"
    "Its these fake/artificial ingredients in foods!"
    "I dieted for 2 weeks and didn't lose any weight!"
    etc - Gaming, Food Reviews and Life in Singapore


    • I think the unfortunate thing is that many of us have simply taught our bodies to exist on low calories. I have a feeling the people that go primal and lose the weight easily on relatively high calorie counts have never dieted or not done much.

      I have done (among the dumbest shit):
      3 months of slim fast 3 a day, no sensible meal.
      Caloric restriction - rotating days of 200/400/600/800/1000 calories for months (I did this multiple cycles)
      Eating 1400 calories a day, doing the Insanity video, then running 3-5 miles.

      I'm gonna bet that the women here that can't eat much have done similar.... while the ones that can eat 1800 calories never did. I wish I had eliminated wheat and sugar when I was 12. The amazing things about those "diets" is that I was active and not getting sick or seeing ill effects. And I know- know, that many, many women have done the same programs again and again.

      So my curiosity is- how do you undo the damage? And why is there so little research on the impact of chronic dieting on metabolism?
      Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!


      • Originally posted by magnolia1973 View Post
        ISo my curiosity is- how do you undo the damage? And why is there so little research on the impact of chronic dieting on metabolism?
        Because it is so freeking complicated
        I think that is the one big thing I have learnt from looking into primal eating, the big picture is simple, eat less move more, eat less than you burn. True for a given value of true.

        But then you add in things like metabolic advantage, fat burning, glycogen stores, insulin resitance, sation, hunger, hormones, leaky gut, nuitrient malabsorbtion, pro-biotics, micros, macros etc etc etc and it just get's so confusing for most people who haven't spent a life time studying it, and even those that have still argue about what's what till they are blue in the face.

        I don't think anyone really knows what is going on inside, you just have to experiment on yourself.

        To repair damage though is simple, unicorn steaks, fried in coconut oil with bullet proof coffee, at exactly 9 am, 1pm and 5pm everyday. This is up-regulate your gulibitate and regulate your sceptiod receptiors, you will then after 3 weeks need 3,000 kcals a day to maintain body weight never get ill, have boundless energy, be irristable to the oposite(and the same) sex and people with throw money and flowers at you in the street.

        or follow this:-
        You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................


        • ^^ I agree magnolia.

          So much research everywhere points to the inaccuracy with a lot of things surrounding calories. A few to mention:
          -3500 cals to 1lb. I have seen research that shows this actually varies from 2200cals to 3700cals, dependent on a few variables.
          -Basal metabolic rate. This is also known to vary hugely, and it's really hard to figure out where yours is.
          -I saw one study where formerly overweight people were found to need 20% fewer calories than someone else the same weight as them who had never been overweight to maintain the same weight.

          I still very much believe calories in calories out, not as a be all and end all, but you can see why a lot of people have trouble finding that sweet spot.

          I'm facing a calorie dilemma right now. Lets use those figures I mentioned above, since they're commonly thrown around. Apparently my basal metabolic rate is ~1875 cals, and to maintain my weight I'm looking at ~2400cals (sedentary lifestyle). If I want to lose ~2.2lb per week, I need to have a 7700cal deficit each week. That'd mean I was eating 775cals a day, if I did no exercise. That's pretty darn low, if you ask me. So I throw in 3 hours walking each week (~1200cals per week), and 3 gym sessions (~1900cals per week). Now those 3100cals from exercise I suppose can be put back in my diet, so I can now eat ~1200cals per day. I mean, that's still not very much, and I worry about crossing the line into "chronic cardio" at some point, cause I kinda wanna eat more than 1200cals sometimes! Not to mention I suspect my metabolism isn't actually that good and I wouldn't be surprised if my basal metabolic rate was lower than the ~1875 the calculators tell me.

          I don't mean to be a dick, for want of a better word, but men possibly don't understand what it's like to realise how few calories you really can consume when you're a sedentary woman! Sometimes I eat breakfast and realise I've already eaten ~75% of my daily calories, depressing! And I bring this up because often those "why aren't I losing weight" threads are women or people with low lean body masses who probably have lower basal metabolic rates. This isn't sensationalising peoples problems and diagnosing them with rare metabolic disorders, it's simply acknowledging the variation in science and peoples bodies.

          I say all of this to come back to the low carb thing. I will always recommend low carb to any obese person who asks me how I have finally lost weight. Why? Because for me, it has been the ONLY thing to allow me to actually get my calories low enough to lose at a rate that keeps me motivated, and not feeling as though I want to eat everything in a 5km radius every day. I find my hunger 10x more manageable on a low carb lifestyle. In saying that, now that I lift weights regularly, I do high carb/low fat on gym days. But a lot of obese people starting out do not want to jump straight into that so I don't mention that part until later.

          I don't think I ever got into low carb because someone told me it created a metabolic advantage. Is that really the issue with low carb? I honestly didn't know it was a reason people did it. It's always been about craving/hunger control for me, but I suppose everyone is different. Even now on my high carb gym days I suddenly want to eat more food.

          Just my 2 cents... again.
          Last edited by nixxy; 07-27-2012, 05:03 AM.
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          • Originally posted by nixxy View Post
            I don't think I ever got into low carb because someone told me it created a metabolic advantage.
            No need to go low carb for the extra 300 calorie metabolic advantage (just to throw out the most recent research number that you can debate if you chose to miss the point). There are physiological/hormonal reasons that are far more compelling. Good science, bad interpretation - The Eating Academy | Peter Attia, M.D.


            • Given that our idea of hunting is a walk to the fridge door, it's not like ignoring hunger signals is going to hurt us any. Somehow the sensation of hunger often gets tied up with so many emotional overlays
              I think losing my job will hurt me a great deal. When I am hungry and try to fast I stop being productive and start distracting myself. Meaning Internet. Meaning... yeah, I can lose my job. So, I'd rather not be hungry at work. If I am hungry before bed, I can't sleep. If I can't sleep, I can't be productive at work & can't take care of my family and be kind and patient, and stuff. I can lose my job.... So, right now I am in the "I'd rather be 120-122 lbs and keep working than 110-113 lbs that I want to be and unemployed and a horrid bitch." I really envy ladies who are slender and wonderful and sweet, but a hungry me is not a very good person. That's why i am eating breakfast again & returned to whole foods, and art sweeteners & whey in my diet. Yeah, I gave up. The food won. But maybe I won something as well. Like, freedom from weighing celery sticks and looking at the watch every 6 or so minutes and counting down to the magic Hour 16 when i finally can have food? Grockelle after all was running around outside, doing stuff, gathering, popping roots and berries in her mouth whenever she found them, outdoors, busy, napping when she would.... not I.

              One day I might finally talk my husband into letting me goon a holiday alone, and then I can go to tropics, fast and swim and walk the beach and read all day and lose these 10 lbs I want to lose so badly. Too bad they will come back on....

              On the number of calories, I maintained my weight both at 1300 cals a day and 1700 cals a day doing exactly the same thing. At first, when food intake increased, weight jumped up a few pounds, but they drop, and then you maintain. Then, I had periods when at the same caloric intake the weight just climbs and climbs, for me it is generally April through July, when weight just goes up and up, no matter what. I'd be cursed if I know why. Then I lose from July to October and stay stable.... I am doing cold showers this summer. In fact, I have no idea any more what my body does and why and how when it comes to hunger and fat deposition and loss. I tried so many things, and I just didn't find anything that works all the time and is consistent.

              Anyway, I think low calories is martyrdom. Martyrdom without the results sucks.
              Last edited by Leida; 07-27-2012, 06:21 AM.
              My Journal:
              When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.


              • And before you begin stating what works and what does not work, I recommend reading this:

                Confirmation Bias You Are Not So Smart


                • Originally posted by primal pete View Post
                  Thank you for pointing at the elephant in the room Choco.

                  These kinds of sensationalist posts you refer too (not just the ones related to calories) have personally made me pretty cynical of these forums to the point where I don't really like to read and post here much any more. The few times I've kindly remarked that people struggling with weight loss should consider counting calories have almost always been met with hostility and disregard... and I'm thinking, hey, YOU asked buddy. Meanwhile, people continue the circle jerk playing House MD, throwing out things like insulin resistance, leptin resistance, toxins, thyroids, metabolic advantage, fungi... I don't even know what else. God forbid anyone actually asks themselves if the most simple and common explanation of stalled weight loss might be the problem - that you're just eating too much.

                  And is it such a ridiculous idea to test? I mean, lets pretend that I think I have some kind thyroid problem making me unable to lose weight. I think the best thing I could do is actually determine if reducing my calories doesn't do anything. If I start magically losing weight when I actually track my intake and controlling portions, great! Problem solved. I don't have some rare medical disorder. Prescription: cool it on the nut butter.

                  Alternatively... if I do cut my kcal intake to 1200 a day, don't lose any weight after a month, and feel like sh*t. Then yea, maybe I have a serious medical problem that i'd be justified in investigating. Here's the thing - problems like celiacs disease and hyperthyroidism are very serious and should NOT BE TAKEN LIGHTLY. People who legitimately have these problems often have to work very hard to resolve them or control them... and I guarantee that having a six pack is the last thing on their mind - they just want to feel good and not worry about dying. I think there's a saying in business that goes something like...always try the easiest solution first, right? Why fix a problem with a complicated solution when you can just do it with a simple one.

                  There are days when I don't feel like going to work, but I'm not thinking my feelings are the result of some crazy medical disorder that makes me hate going to work... I mean, sometimes I just gotta suck it up and get there, accepting that my brain isn't perfect. It's the same with exercise. We all love to do it and understand how good it is for us, but I'd be lying if I said there weren't some days I was thinking about my work out for the day and thinking "man, f this, I just want to sit on the couch and drink a beer." Is it so crazy to think that hey, maybe the same thing applies to diet too. Maybe if I want to achieve that lean fight club Brad Pitt body... I just need some good old fashioned self control and work ethic.

                  People idealize the concept of "Grok" way too much here. Grok is only the result of millions of years of natural selection... that he was able to live long enough to reproduce and not go extinct. And this concept is no different today. Humans and fatter and sicker than ever, yet as a species we are thriving more than ever before, and continue to grow exponentially. Natural selection isn't some Godly, intelligent force. It's arbitrary, and far from "perfect." Grok didn't live in a panacea where he ate a nutritionally perfect spread that caused his body to look like Martin Berkham's. Even if that were true, Grok wouldn't want to be six pack lean, because that means if there was ever a time when he couldn't eat, he would be screwed.

                  The best approach, in my opinion, is to use Grok as a basic framework of understanding how humans evolved to best thrive on certain nutritional and environmental factors that were present for most of their history. Then, we want to integrate modern science and knowledge into that framework to give us the best possible tools to achieve our goals. Primal for me doesn't mean I want to regress back to being a caveman. Sorry.

                  Man... I've been wanting to say that for a while. Feels good.

                  P.S. - the "metabolic advantage" theory has been disproved... time and time again, and there is not one ward based calorically controlled study, not ONE, that shows a group will lose weight while another does not, while they both eat the same number of overall calories. Anthony Colpo is perhaps the leading expert on this type of research, and he thoroughly slays this theory here, with plenty of citations to back it up:


                  Am I wrong? Then show me a study that does. Show me a study in which two groups eat the exact same number of daily calories where one group loses or gains weight, and the other does not. The burden of proof is on you. Good luck with that - because there are none.
                  Well Said Primal Pete! This reminds me of an incident with my fiancee and I last month while we were going on a movie date. I was feeling depressed and complaining about my stalled weightloss and how it is so hard to lose weight. Mind you my fiancee is one of those perpetual six pack having no matter WHAT (not how much) he eats type peopel. So I was feeling all low and depressed and started going on this rant on how I work out and go to the gym everyday and why can't I lose weight? WHY ME WHY ME?

                  and he was like "uh babe, sorry to sound insensitive, but you have been eating coconut icecream and bananas by the bowls every night for a week straight before bed, I mean....what do you expect?", " coconut banana icecream is primal"! I said of course we had a mini fight, because GOD FORBID, I admit that the reason I was NOT losing weight is something I can control. So I posted here a bunch of times, talking about cutting sugar, wheat etc, but then about two and a half weeks ago, I was like, hmm maybe I SHOULD meticulously COUNT my calories. Turns out i was underestimating by at LEAST 400 calories a day. Fast forward to today and I have lost five pounds and I have being to gym only TWICE in two weeks and I did cheat on non primal foods occasionally and drank wine too. The ONLY thing that changed was that I started being anal about my calories.
                  Now I don't have that much weight to start with, only 20lbs in total to lose, so yes, I think most people who have a hard time with weight issues LIKE ME, feel better thinking that weight loss is something they cannot control....which for the most part is Hog wash.


                  • Originally posted by emmie View Post
                    I would also like to point out that even when there ARE medical issues involved, weight loss depends on caloric deficit.

                    I was morbidly obese my entire life (from early childhood), and after menopause, I seriously lost weight (almost 200 lbs) and am a 'normal' weight for the first time in my life at age 70.

                    I began eating low carb because I happen to be extremely sensitive to carbs, and I cut calories enough to lose slowly. I knew from experience that I had to watch both carbs and calories. I had already developed a goiter, but my primary physician kept assuring me that I had no thyroid problems.

                    I lost my first 80 lbs while hypothyroid and with escalating symptoms. It was only when I was too fatigued to complete a work day that I self-referred to an endo and was medicated appropriately. My slow thyroid simply meant that I ate fewer calories than someone else my size in order to lose. It did not prevent weight loss.

                    When I got down to 250 lbs, I plateaued, and I realized that I needed to cut calories further--to <1000 a day. I thought this might be 'too low' (scared by the Internet claim that no one should eat under 1200 cal), and I talked to my endo about it. He agreed that not only was I post-menopausal and hypothyroid, two things that tend to slow the metabolism, but he suspected that I have a 'genetically slow metabolism.' He not only told me that he thought about 900 cal would be 'right' for me, he has patients who can only lose on about 750 cal a day because of medical issues.

                    In any case, I lost the next 100 lbs eating about 900 cal a day. Since I lost steadily at only about one pound a week, clearly my deficit wasn't too large. Now I can maintain at about 1,100 cal daily. Interestingly, my 'head' would love more food, but my body is totally satisfied at this level.

                    I suspect that many overweight people imagine that they'll 'starve' if they eat less because they've learned to override their body's satiety signals. Mine were so repressed I didn't notice them at all.

                    Yes, I ate the 'right stuff'--focusing always on sufficient protein and whole foods--but I could not lose eating that way without a caloric deficit. And I couldn't use anyone else's 'number'--everyone has to find his or her own deficit level.
                    Very interesting to read Emmie, I always wondered about the eat at 1200 calorie range! I am not sure if it is part of the CW bull but it is all over the place. I am not sure how someone who is as petite as me has to eat the same minimum as someone who is 5 foot ten???


                    • Fast forward to today and I have lost five pounds and I have being to gym only TWICE in two weeks and I did cheat on non primal foods occasionally and drank wine too. The ONLY thing that changed was that I started being anal about my calories.
                      That's awesome.... for some of us it doesn't work like that. I can control my calorie intake, but when over time it doesn't work, it sucks monkey balls. I hope that you never get to a point where you control your calories, skip your wine and stay primal and watch the scale not move for weeks on end and look at your calories and try and figure out what more you can cut and still have something other than grilled chicken breast on dry greens.

                      Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!


                      • I've never had any weight to lose so I really can't relate to anything that's written here
                        That said, I really think calorie restriction is a bitch and counting (carbs or calories) sounds depressing.
                        I wouldn't want to live like that.
                        Everything is bad for something - How do you feel today?


                        • How many of these sensational, emotion-driven and completely ridiculous statements and thread titles do we see here on MDA on a daily basis?
                          Says the man of a million exclamation points plus bold and red in nearly every post.

                          I just came back from a backpack trip with four other people. The other four are hiking from Mexico to Canada and have been on trail since April. No lack of exercise there.

                          Two of them are eating pop-tarts and peanut butter most of the time. Two of them are eating no flour or sugar, lots of grains and potatoes and olive oil. All of them are highly performant out there, hiking up to 30 miles a day along the Continental Divide.

                          The younger guy on his pop-tart and peanut butter diet shows no signs of emaciation. He has hiked 10,000 miles in the past two years. His body weight is totally normal.

                          The one young lady on the pop-tart and peanut butter plan has more body fat than she ought to for such exertion. She has visible fat pads on her upper arms and belly.

                          The two older hikers on the no grains and sugar diets both show signs of weight loss. They are thinner than when they began although they are not to the point of sunken cheeks or out-right emaciation yet, although they are close.

                          A few years ago I was a pop-tart and peanut butter long distance hiker and I gained weight after a couple thousand miles of it. This time I was a no grains hiker and I lost weight on only 5 days of hiking.

                          No amount of Chaco's bold text and exclamation points can wipe out the pure observation and personal experience of myself and my friends. There is something to the quality of your calories, especially for those of us with metabolic syndrome or similar issues.
                          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


                          • So to sum this thead up in a sentance: To lose weight you need a calorie deficit, how easy that is to achive and mantain depends on many factors including; what you eat, what you do and who you are geneticaly and personally
                            You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................


                            • Originally posted by SLB0404 View Post
                              I've found this thread really insightful thanks!

                              There are 3 points I'm taking away from this:
                              1. Calories DO matter
                              2. It's so incredibly hard to determine exactly where the maintenance and deficit zones are (it's not as simple as using an internet formula and even through keeping calories constant for a month and weighing yourself every day you probably won't get an accurate result due to the fact that the scale should not be the only measurement used!)
                              3. Yes, you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight but it's important that you do this while still consuming real, whole foods.

                              All other points (role of exercise, validity of measurements etc) I think fall under point 2... is there anything I'm forgetting?
                              YUP....u got it

                              Originally posted by emmie View Post

                              If you think 1200 cal is 'hard,' try doing 900 cal to lose. Age and medical issues required that from me, and guess what I discovered? If I'm eating at my body's requirements (rather than what I'd like to be its requirements), I can be satisfied.

                              Was I ever hungry? Yes. But what I discovered is that true, physical hunger is not very uncomfortable. What's difficult are the 'cravings' that we create ourselves in our minds. Once I realized that and learned to control them, eating at a level that allowed me to lose weight was possible. These days I can only eat about 1,100 cal to maintain (my doctor agrees), but, again, my body is totally satisfied with this caloric level. I'm never truly hungry. It's my 'mind' that wants to eat more.

                              Originally posted by magnolia1973 View Post
                              Yeah, lol, we are pros at controlling hunger... I kind of like the feeling of being a little hungry. But it is the nutritional stuff I worry about. I want fruit for a reason other than being "out of control" or a "sugar addict". I don't want a candy bar or a soda. I think I want the fruit because of the vitamins and minerals.

                              I don't know- maybe my solution lies in supplements and reduced calories.

                              My other thought is that nightshades are stalling me. I have always gotten heartburn from tomatoes. Back when I was losing it was winter/spring, so no consumption of tomatoes. But the past few months have been tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. But again, le sigh... they are veggies I enjoy. Seriously, must a stew of eggplant and tomato and garlic be yet another thing I "can't have".

                              Sorry for the vent- it's just depressing. I just want to eat and enjoy whole foods. I have exactly zero desire to eat processed foods or junk foods. I just want the ability to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and NOT BE fat.
                              There has to be something more than you getting fat from eating fruits and veggies...unless you are overeating on the fruits - which again goes to the CICO model. I am sorry but unless you have been diagnosed with some medical condition i find it extremely hard to believe that eating vegetables ALONE will make u fat. You are obviously eating some form of added protein.

                              I am 5 feet tall and started watching what i ate when I ballooned to 155 pounds when I quit smoking. I am now 140 - lost 15 pounds but I stalled at 144 for a couple of months while eating primal. I have lost 5 in two weeks just stucking up on fruits and veggies and eating sea food (not fatty meats). I have a feeling eating fatty red meat hinders my weight loss. Anyway I had a Woe is me attitude and experiment with or without wheat, with or withour sugar, with or without seed oils.....just came down to me decreasing fat, eating lean protein (not too lean) and eat lots of vegetables. Again unless u are frying or sauteeing your veggies in butter, i CANNOT see how eating vegetables like eggplants and garlic can EVER make anyone fat.


                              • You may not get fat on eating steamed vegetables but you may stall for under-eating, and get very hungry on low fat and low protein. When I was doing low calorie, high carb low fat with insane exercise load trying to get below 118-120 lbs I ended up binging on Source yogurts (groan). Basically, my weight loss went easy from 150 lbs to about 140 lbs with just walking and cutting out sweets, then I had to up the intensity of the exercise and go to 1.5 hours a day. The next stall was about 128-130 lbs. Then I could not get below 118 lbs with about 3 hours of exercise a day on trying to hit 1300 cals a day (my BMR at the time). The only time I actually managed to go under 118 lbs is on Lyle McDonald's UD 2.0, when I got as low as 114 lbs (which would be 4 days on ~ 1000-1200 cals, 1 day on ~ 1300 cals, 1 day on ~ 2500 cals and 1 day ~ 1800 cals with 4 days of various weight workouts 90 min to 60 min in duration + 30 to 60 min of cardio a day). For a day or so.... then I bounced back to ~ 120 lbs, and holding 122 for dear life on the whole foods atm. Tried 4 Hour Body too, with one day of overeating, 4 days of serious lifting and 1-2 days of sprints and a lot of walking. That is something I might do again, but right now I am not really wanting to be restrictive 6 days a week for the sake of 1 day a week of feasting. I'd rather eat moderately every day and accept being stuck at 122 lbs.

                                The things that totally did not work for me was Anabolic Diet (no result), Fat Fasts (can't manage over a few hours) and Lean Gains (no result).

                                Clean Paleo without nuts, fruit and dairy resulted in slow weight loss, but also triggered depression....
                                Last edited by Leida; 07-27-2012, 10:55 AM.
                                My Journal:
                                When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.