It was May 2019, I was travelling as usual across the world because of the nature of my work. At that time, I’ve been already “all-in” the biohacking-paleo-keto movement which I did start following 4 years earlier.
In between flights, biding my time in one of the airports, the cover of a magazine caught my attention. I entered the shop and got it.
Sure thing I knew about the myth “Calories in, Calories out”, the work of Gary Taubes, the Bulletproof lifestyle and so on. But, being an engineer, but also a coach, this article got my extreme interest, and immediately after reading it I went to some friends of mine from the World of Chemistry to ask for more. And everything I got resulted to be correct.
With this article(s), I want to summarize what I’ve learned, and how simply a more “detached” and objective view could bring more happiness to the entire World. Yes, and I am not exaggerating.
Just consider the list of people who you know that are struggling for many years skipping meals, working out 5 days a week, dieting and restricting their food intake, emblems of the way they say: “no pain, no gain”. That’s bu#@$%it.
I have to say: I’m not a dietician, a doctor or else. This article’s only representing my view and ideas. I realize there are people struggling with metabolic diseases and serious health problems and It’s not my intention here to minimize or ridicule the problem, I know it’s hard and you all have my respect. Still, a large number of people is not aware of “the other side of the moon”, so let’s have a look at it.
Here my view and summary about 2 “tricky” arguments we all face when talking about “diet”, “fat”, “keto”, “exercise” and so on: the subjects are both about CALORIES and FAT LOSS.
“What we’ve always been told, is it’s a simple matter of mathematics, as long as you don’t consume too much energy, which we measure through calories, and as long as you exercise enough to burn enough calories you won’t put on weight. But that system is just so wrong, that it’s not only misleading, it actually leads people to make the wrong choices about what they eat, and it causes a lot of grief and a lot of angst because the bottom line of that message is that if it’s not working for you, and you’re putting on weight, then you’re either too greedy or you’re too lazy,” Wilson says.- Death of the Calorie.
Are we literally a furnace?
The nitty and gritty from the article mentioned above is this: “It’s not your fault”. In this society, in an insane mix of “blaming” and “marketing”, we tend to rely on “willpower”, “sacrifices”, “restrictions” to reach our goals. Literally, any of them. Think about work, success, money and so on.
Sticking to the topic, here we are talking about weight loss or, more correctly, body recomposition. Let’s keep the correct terminology (at least here).
Sure, ’cause when simply “losing weight”, that is something we can all check using a common scale, it’s influenced by numerous factors: we can either lose fat, muscles, or even water. From the outside (i.e. scale reading), we see the same results for all the 3 mentioned conditions.
So, we are back to the CALORIES.
Calorie: the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods. — Definitions from Oxford Languages
Cutting the story short, approx 140 years ago a series of experiments aimed to measure how much energy was released from food. It turns out that our body, with all its biochemical processes, works not really the same as a furnace (or a Bomb calorimeter, to be precise) and, as everyone can understand, we simply cannot “burn” every single food product to understand how many calories are produced when assimilating it.
It turns out that the system above, with very few modifications, is the one we are currently using to populate the food label we carefully read every time we are on diet or we are thinking “healthy”. Well, the numbers are officially not correct.
“And incredibly, they [UN] said in 2002, that they’re already so many inaccuracies in the calorie system, that it’s not really worth correcting.” Wilson says.- Death of the Calorie.
Is it the end for all of us? Not really. But let’s live our life “the easy way”. Let’s be mindful and conscious that we must not follow the instructions (i.e. counting calories) at all time. Let’s take more time listening to our bodies, our feelings. No more tons of guiltiness.
Sure, tracking food has benefits when trying to lose body fat. But, remember, it’s not merely about calories. Simply, being more conscious it’s the key.
Almost every diet works, at least at the beginning. Why? Because of DISCIPLINE. Moving from eating “everything, everywhere, every time” to “having balanced and timely meals” it’s the core principle to start with.
Then, for sustained health, look both at the macro and micronutrients. Your body needs various and numerous substances to live and thrive. Those substances come from food (including water, of course) and the environment (i.e. sun, but this is another story…).
One example above all: let’s imagine we do need 2500 calories a day to keep our weight stable. Let’s imagine for one second we could eat in one single day:
- n. 10 cups of miniature (500 gr) of marshmallows — 1590 calories
- n. 20 large Jelly beans (56 gr) — 1050 calories
You are right, the total is slightly above the daily intake…so feel free to remove a couple of treats to keep the balance…what?!
do we really think that the amount of energy our body functions need are eating the above is the same one coming from:
- 600 grams of grass-fed beef (approx 1200 calories)
- 400 grams of salmon filet (approx 840 calories)
plus lots of salad and some additional stuff? Sure, the cooking methods, the condiments are counting as well, but we are all smart here, aren’t we? You got the point. Simply looking at the numbers calculated by the “ancient” (nevertheless still actual…) system for calories is not correct, not the healthy way anyway.
End of part 1 — part 2: Where does the FAT go? coming soon.