las

Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The poor, misunderstood kilowatt•hour

I probably won't be around much longer.

You see Con Ed (my electricity provider) contacted me and said that because my usage this past year exceeded what my level payments cover, they will need to recalculate that payment.   Which got me thinking CON Edison.  Hmmmmm sounds conspiratorial.  So I investigated.

Well, they are pushing all manner of energy saving schemes!  How can I cut my bill?  And then I look at my bill.  My home intakes kilowatt•hours (kwh) ... but how can I know what to do to reduce that intake when I use:

  • Calories to heat water
  • My air conditioning units expend BTUs
  • I need Joules to rotate the blades on my ceiling fans
  • My (hypothetical) trash compactor uses foot•lbs
  • My light bulbs emit Einsteins (or more commonly Joules)
  • My laptop is using eV from my battery, while that lasts ....
Yes, folks, I'm finally convinced that everything I ever learned about energy in college was propaganda from big Con and they are just trying to sell me on their energy saving stuff.   However thanks to a new book by a PhD scientist, I have seen the light.  You see:
Counting calories is an ineffective means to determine energy balance or lose weight.   The calories in food are not the same as those expended by the body.
I read that and a light bulb went on over my head.   I've been going about this business of energy balance in my home all wrong!  Big Utility and their minions in the global warming community, frugal fruitarians and all other manner of conservationists and budgetary gurus have it all wrong.   I can't cut my electric bill by cutting back on various things I use that consume energy because some of these things need BTUs or calories instead of kwhs!  My, why didn't I think of that sooner.

Yes folks, I am being sarcastic here, but this is a serious statement made by a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology ... and it is the "why" for an entire book by William Lagakos entitled The poor, misunderstood calorie.  I was so hopeful when I saw someone with his credentials come onto the scene, but most of those hopes were dashed upon reading the first roughly 20 pages of his book. 

In those pages he defines three types of calories (these are not direct quotes):
Basic Scientific Calorie (BSC):  This is the one one that increases the temperature of 1g of water by 1 degree Celsius.
Food Science Calorie: This is the one used to measure the energy content of food in a bomb calorimeter -- oddly enough by measuring the temperature increase in water caused by the heat generated in the combustion reaction.
These are different calories?  OK.  Lastly there's the... 
Nutrition Science Calorie:  This one, oddly enough, has nothing to do with nutrition.  These calories are those associated with the energy expenditure during various activities obtained by direct or indirect calorimetry.  
I'm thinking this is at the root of the title of this book.  To clear up the confusion we have Chapter 2 entitled "Why no proper calorie applies to weight loss".   The term proper is attached to calories a lot by this author, which begs the question:  What, exactly is an improper calorie?  But let's move on.  In a section arguing against the BSC he writes this:
Our body does not use energy to heat one litre of water by one degree centigrade.   It uses energy to live, make digestive enzymes in the stomach, synthesize glucose in the liver, climb a set of stairs, sleep, etc.   The energy required to do these things, in particular anything related to physical activity, is influenced not only by the absolute amount of work done (e.g., distance traveled), but by the efficiency of energy utilization while performing said work. ... [examples]  ... Many factors, including diet, affect the efficiency of energy utilization.  
The amount of calories used by our body to do things is variable, unlike the calories required to raise a litre of water by one degree Celsius.
So, since no proper kwh applies to energy conservation,  I plan to switch to a gas stove for boiling my water, and I am hoping that putting all of my lightbulbs on the roof during the day will deliver enough light energy to them so that they may "repay" me with light during the dark hours.  Alternatively, I was thinking if I could replace every electricity-using item in my house so that they all use the same amount of kwh, this might fix things.  Man the big CON that's been put over on us all of these years.  It's insidious really.  Most of us have to buy our kwh from a single source.  There are government electric companies too.  The appliance makers have obviously conspired to make all our air conditioners expend BTUs ... and not only that, there are variable temperature settings and whatnot making it absolutely impossible to determine exactly how many kwh I would save if  I ran it half the time.  Oh ... and my house isn't a closed system, so ....

If the calories we ingest are not the same as those we expend, and neither are equivalent to the basic science calorie, what on earth were Kevin Hall, PhD and Carson Chow, PhD thinking when they wrote The Dynamics of Human Body Weight Change?   Perhaps this post on Carson Chow's blog will be helpful,  Obesity, weight gain and a cookie, and here's an interview with the NYT, and below is another interview.



You know, the mainstream medical establishment may have gotten a few things wrong.  Such as that dietary cholesterol has little to do with cholesterol levels.  It is bad enough that some bad nutritional science is replaced with equally bad science such as that the liver generates massive amounts of fats from carb or that eating carbs causes diabetes.

But these recent attempts to say that even this whole notion of energy balance and calories is wrong (even Taubes doesn't say that on most days) is taking this a bit far.   Is every biochemistry text, chemical thermo text, etc. ever written wrong?  All of Bill's professors?  Because his book is not one of putting scientific principals into layperson terms, as one might hope.  No.  It turns science on its head to further some sort of agenda, though it is difficult to figure out what that might be.  In this case we're not talking about someone who has built a career around this agenda.  Perhaps he's hoping to?  I don't know and I'd rather not speculate.  

Too ancient?
This much is not difficult about physics and thermodynamics.  Energy is our "universal currency" between realms.  Anyone with a bachelor's degree in science should have at some point during the course of their education done calculations where energy is converted from one form to another.   Where are the guys with the physics degrees when we need them ... calling Paul Jaminet, Gary Taubes and DH Keifer?  There are quite a few engineers out there, too, and I know you learned this stuff in college because I took many classes right alongside you and I remember learning it.   Are nutritionists and nutrition scientists actually suggesting that there's nothing to all of the various energy balance and conversions, etc.?  I sure hope not, but is does seem that way.

The energy we get from our food is chemical potential energy stored in those molecules.  It can be expressed in calories or Joules or any other unit of energy.  Atwater chose the calorie and since the single calorie gave numbers of awkward magnitude, he coined the Calorie = 1000 cals = 1 kcal.  When we metabolize and break down those molecules that energy is available to "fuel" other processes.  Some is released as heat, which isn't even an inefficient or "bad" thing for us warm blooded organisms.  I'll address this efficiency argument in another post, though it may be a while until I get to that.  But this is irrelevant to the calories contained in the ingested molecules in the first place.

The efficiency argument is also a red herring because the vast majority of the "energy" generating (ATP production) occurs in metabolic pathways that are common to carbs and fats (and even proteins).  This is a point I've made repeatedly here because it is an important one.  It seems the whole "metabolic advantage" has been recycled into this notion of quality vs. quantity of calories.   Again, with Occam's Razor staring everyone in the face, why is this being done?  I know the "not" of that answer.  It isn't being done to improve anyone's understanding.  It isn't being done to help people.  And it isn't being done to advance science.

Lastly, sorry to disappoint the enemies out there, but I have decided to be nice to my kwhs, the poor dears, and continue my electricity service.  If only the calories could just be understood, eh?

102 comments:

George said...

Let's say you consume 2,200 calories a day without vitamins or minerals. Within a few weeks you will have no energy. In fact, the more energy you consume in this way, the sooner you will have none to live with.
Some animal might then come along and extract energy from you as part of a balanced diet, but that's not really a nutritionist's concern. Their concern is, or should be, with life processes.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

At the risk of becoming even more annoying than I apparently already am:-
1) Energy balance, CICO, w.h.y. is about changes in body weight.
2) Vitamins, minerals, EFAs, EAAs etc is about changes in body health.
3) Partitioning is about changes in body composition.
Diet affects 1) & 2). Exercise affects 1) & 3)

carbsane said...

What? Life processes? Obviously if you do not eat compounds that act as co-factors, electrolytes, etc. eventually you will DIE. But that takes quite some time.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

@Evelyn: The string "interview with the NYT" contains the html "mailto:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/a-mathematical-challenge-to-obesity.html"

NickM said...

I think Bill's point in problematising the reductionism to "Calories" is that the comforting trope of "a Calorie is a Calorie" provides a sophistic notion of equivalence where there isn't any - or, more accurately, where the equivalence is anodyne and uninteresting.

Our stomachs are not just bomb calorimeters, and our metabolism is not a simple heat engine. For example, one set of "Calories" might be represented as expensive gluconeogenesis. Another set of "Calories" might be shunted to repair myelin sheaths. Further "Calories" might go to repair some recently damaged muscles, etc.

Imagine you walked into a factory, and you asked what they needed to make their gadgets. Imagine that "stuff and energy" was the response to this putative query. Whilst accurate, you'd be highly annoyed at the way this, as linguists might say, missed the illocutionary force of the query!

Fine, you'd reply - "in that case you don't mind if I provide the energy in the form of sound, and the stuff in the form of gravel? " Of course they'd mind! The factory would grind to a halt! "But you said all you needed was energy and stuff! Energy is Emergy and Stuff is Stuff. All you care about is how many joules and how many kilos, surely!"

Similarly, simply saying that the body "uses and expends Calories" is so trite as to be a tautology. Yes, we know. Bodies are part of the physical universe. What we want to know is how we can best manipulate its allocation, partitioning and pathways of these "Calories" to achieve the aims we want: so, use the energy to repair more muscle, perhaps, or produce more heat, or get dumped out the rear-end.

What most of us in societies of perpetual plenty would prefer Calories did not do is be shunted quickly and efficiently to the fat stores. And so we debate whether we can influence the body's so that it uses fat storage as a last resort rather than a first resort. Whether, and to what degree, this is possible has sustained debate on this blog for years! But it's not a debate which can be shut down by flippantly preaching the Catchesism of Calorie Fungibility.

And there's the crux of the issue: if Calories were all fungible, then they'd all have the same fate in the body. But they don't. The body partitions its allocation of Calories exquisitely. The question we are all interested in here is whether we can manipulate the choices it makes to suit our desires! And Bill, I think, analyses that question with some intelligence and humility.

Charles Peden said...

"The Dynamics of Human Body Weight Change"...in summary:

Just a simple confirmation of CICO explanation of body weight--until they get to the sentence "However, there is an important caveat." This is followed by 9 pages of complex differential equations, models, theories, exceptions, and speculations to help try to explain why body weight is NOT simply about CICO.

The bottom line is that weight loss is all about CI<CO.

--except science has shown people are bad at estimating CI.

--and science has shown that calories on labels are not accurate.

--and science has shown that metabolisms can slow down.

--and science has shown that different foods can have different affects on metabolism.

--and science has shown that different foods can have different affects on hormones.

--and science has shown that hormones can affect the metabolism.

--and science has shown that our estimations for CO may not be accurate.

So once you employ your poor estimating skills using the inaccurate labels on foods to reduce your calorie consumption below the moving target of "Calories Out", then you can lose weight and feel like you are in a permanent state of starvation and deprivation from the jacked up hormones that were neglected from the CICO equation. Gee, what's left to figure out?

It's funny how the people that science says have trouble losing weight because they are inaccurate at estimating calories, are the same people who can maintain essentially the same weight day after day, week after week, month after month with astonishing accuracy...and don't have a clue how many calories they are consuming! Overall, are they inaccurate or accurate calorie estimators?

carbsane said...

I think you are confusing actively trying to balance calories with manipulating CICO. It's a little round about, but this was a bit of the point of the cookie post and the video. If you should weigh 150 and you consume calories in excess of say 2000/day to maintain that, then you will gain weight until your expenditure to move around and maintain that tissue matches the intake.


People can get a decent idea of their average daily expenditure and cut back from there. Other things like labels etc. should average out over time, and if you have a few foods you digest poorly that don't cause digestive upset, then perhaps advantage can be taken there.


Metabolisms do adjust but they don't adjust fully reasonable perturbation.

hmavros said...

Hi NickM,


Nice post...I really enjoyed your apologia on Bill's behalf, but I wonder at the extent to which it is responding to a real or an imagined accuser?


While I'm sure there are some outliers, the vast majority of CICO advocates do not disagree with anything you've said. They do not argue, for instance, that calories are fungible with respect to their metabolism in the body, nor do they argue that calories ingested from different foods share identical fates with respect to body composition outcomes.


Having said that, the overwhelming finding coming out of tightly-controlled studies over the years (especially the metabolic ward studies) is that,however imperfect the calorie may be as a proxy for 'metabolisable energy contained in food', the CICO equation very accurately predicts body mass flux.


This does not mean that the CICO equation answers questions relating to optimal diet design (i.e. food selection, macronutrient ratios, meal timing, control of palatability etc.), for the purposes of long-term diet compliance and psychological contentment. To think that it would, should or could do so is a category error.


This also does not mean that the CICO equation is a trivial truth. It is, rather, a touchstone principle that serves as a necessary condition for the success of any of the individual weight management means people might want to select for themselves.


If you observe the mountains of "calories don't matter" weight management offerings in the industry, you will agree, I hope, that while the CICO equation is not a comprehensive dietary prescription per se, it is a vital arbitrating principle that serves as a useful BS indicator in a sea of same.


Cheers,
Harry

carbsane said...

Thanks for coming over from Twitter, communication there is difficult due to character limits.

I hope to answer some of this in my upcoming post. One thing Bill has failed to answer is whether those initial pages of his book are his original thought or some reduction/synthesis of what he learned in his formal education that he is trying to put in lay terms. I'm sorry but people can make assumptions as to my vs. his background and I'm going to say he can debate me openly if he feels I'm misrepresenting him or dissing him. What he has written, in many places in the book but setting the stage right off, is scientifically incorrect.


The calories available from food are independent of needs/ultimate fate. His discussion of efficiency is ... I can't think of a word that won't be insulting, sorry.

As to calorie partitioning, have you read my insulin paradox posts? http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2012/03/insulin-paradox.html and http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2012/06/insulin-paradox-ii-lessons-from-body.html



In the short run LC seems to have an advantage. Over the long run it is all down hill from there metabolically because the body sees carb restriction as "starvation" no matter how many fat calories you consume.




..... more later ... trying to do too much at the same time here.

Jim said...

Why the silence on AHS13?

Charles Peden said...

If a person is a robot, then a pure CICO strategy is certainly feasible. But 2000 calories of cheeseburgers, ice cream sandwiches, and Coca-Cola are going to have a VERY different effect on the metabolism than 2000 calories of apples and salad. I say this from experience.


I noticed that the ONLY thing that I have tried that actually worked for losing weight and not having a rebound was by eating a reduced calorie diet using basically (but not exclusively) raw fruits, seeds, and vegetables. But I did not do this for more than a week at a time. I would then take a day to fully cheat without restrictions or limitations. This seemed to erase twenty pounds from my set point in a period of about a month.


This was not low fat and it was not strictly vegan or even vegetarian. Outside of the diet I eat pretty much vegan, but I don't find the food effective for losing weight. I focus my regular eating on (what I call) the cholesterol lowering triad: oatmeal, apples, and beans. It brought my total cholesterol down from 250 to 164 and my triglycerides down from 400+ to around 200 (I still drink sodas and juice sometimes).


Although reducing calories was pivotal for losing weight, I do not use reduced calories for maintaining my weight. I also don't worry about counting calories when I'm maintaining. I also don't feel deprived or starving while I'm maintaining. I just eat my vegan foods and try and get my nutrients (and supplement my B12, of course).

Nigel Kinbrum said...

What's wrong with tweaking your diet until your belt, clothes etc get looser? There's no need to measure calories in, calories out, or even weigh yourself. You are subconsciously changing your Energy Balance/CICO/w.h.y, without consciously starving yourself. That's what I do.

I don't feel the need to personally attack someone whose optimum diet happens to be different from mine. Their lifestyle is no threat to mine. That's a metaphorical "poke in the eye with a very sharp stick" for certain members (not all) of "The low-carb Taliban/Hezbollah". I know that some of you read this blog. You are ass hats and can GFY. I'm saying it here, as I'm not going back "there".

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"This is followed by 9 pages of complex differential equations, models,
theories, exceptions, and speculations to help try to explain why body
weight is NOT simply about CICO."
That's not correct. The 9 pages of complex differential equations are based on Equation 1, the Energy Balance Equation (or CICO for short).

There are 2 ways to manipulate CICO. Consciously and subconsciously.


Conscious manipulation works fine for certain groups of people e.g. athletes & bodybuilders, as these groups are very highly motivated and have a specific target (bodyweight, bodyfat %, muscle mass, strength, fitness, performance etc) in mind.

Subconscious manipulation is more appropriate to the general public, as they have lower motivation. However (depending on results), some conscious manipulation may still be necessary for some unlucky people.

crankybastard said...

Calorie counting may be riddled with confounding factors, but applying the principle underlying it even in a vague manner (eyeballing portion sizes) sure as shit is effective given the right macro- and microenvironmental context.
I`ve been living in Japan for three years (urban area). One rarely happens upon overweight people around here, let alone someone who is obese, and yet, the Japanese don`t commonly employ heuristics people in the US seem to associate with optimal nutrient partitioning/hormonal milieu effects: They routinely demonstrate a rather pronounced affection for carbs (even the dreaded wheat) - like ramen, udon, melonpan, okonomiyaki -, and there is an insane array of sweet and salty "processed junk foods" and soft drinks available - vending machines are practically everywhere (Robert "The Japanese eat hardly any fructose!" Lustig should drop by sometime.). Plus, people are pretty fond of their booze. So, how do they, by and large, stay slim?
Simply by adjusting their portion sizes in accordance with how their clothes fit. Since standing out from the crowd is abhorred, and being fat would mean standing out, whenever someone feels that their pants are getting tight, they just cut back on the after work drinks at their izakaya of choice, or visit their favourite ramen place a little less often for a while. It works just fine. In fact, my Japanese friends are routinely baffled at the concept of completely overhauling one`s diet in order to lose weight/improve health, when just eating a little less is so simple and effective in their experience.
In contrast, Americans appear to either avoid "regular everyday movement" like the plague and wolf down ridiculous amounts of food - I visited the Southern US a while ago; people drove literally everywhere, and the serving sizes at restaurants/fast food places seemed almost comically humongous to me - or be consumed with creating and executing "the optimal diet and exercise plan" that will deliver "perfect health" without fail.
As far as the latter is concerned, my personal foray into "optimizing my gene expression" according to "primal" parameters (undertaken in order to get my constantly nagging sister, who happens to be a devout acolyte, off my back) left me rather underwhelmed: Three months of eating (to satiety) as per Paleo Messiah Mark Sisson`s "blueprint" resulted in no tangible benefits; what I got instead was ten pounds of mostly visceral fat gain (as determined by DXA scans) and the corresponding ldl-p and crp elevations, which even the most unconventional wisdom out there regards as distinctly unfavourable.
All in all, I am pretty sure of two things:
1. We don`t yet know nearly as much about how factors beyond CiCo influence health and body composition as the various "gurus" pretend we do.
2. The practical relevance of the "myriad confounding factors" which allegedly render calorie counting/portion control a quest doomed to failure is vastly overstated.

Simon Carter said...

Hi Evelyn, can you expand on what you mean when you write above "...if you have a few foods you digest poorly that don't cause digestive upset, then perhaps advantage can be taken there." What kinds of foods are you referring to?

Adam said...

Agreed with the two primary things. The truth is (and it's really quite simple!) that by moving away from a culture that eats at home to a culture that eats away from home we have adopted a lifestyle where we consume more calories then we burn in the average day. Calories in-calories out provides a framework in which it becomes possible for people to attempt to control portions.

When you are unaware of the caloric density of certain convenience foods (Chips, muffin at Starbucks, etc) it is incredibly easy to consume far too many calories. I can eat a single piece of poppy seed load at Starbucks (400 calories) or I can eat a 6 oz steak (roughly 400 calories) but most people would not think that a piece of poppy seed loaf matches the caloric density of a steak.

In regards to portion sizes, a convenient advantage of huge portion sizes is that I can go to a restaurant buy an appetizer and a main meal to split with someone and still have plenty of food. In fact sometimes I can just split the main meal!

Adam said...

I've been trying to understand how calories in-calories out could be incorrect. If properly defined calories in-calories out would be (as in the video above) the amount of energy taken in minus the amount of energy expended determines the steady-state (or trending) weight of the individual.


Can someone explain to me how this could be wrong? If there exists some metabolic advantage (Let's say when I only eat fat my body burns 1000 extra calories a day!) wouldn't we just adjust the energy out side of the equation? Basically if there exists a metabolic advantage we would easily be able to change the calories out due to said metabolic advantage and our definition would still be correct.


To argue that the above definition of calories in calories out is incorrect... almost requires you to argue that energy intake does not determine weight. Of course I now feel that I am walking into strawman territory so I'll stop. Most of the arguments are about food quality versus quantity but there exist cultures that eat poor food quality that maintain a healthy weight.


The problem is complicated and applying CICO does not work for everyone.

George said...

Surely the body also sees calorie restriction as "starvation", with the same results.
Except more so.

George said...

Coca Cola's unwanted anti-obesity campaign tells customers and prospective customers that balancing calories (or kilojoules) is the solution.
There is no mention of the nuances you or NickM mention, as this would not suit their agenda.
Similarly, slim people who want to be dismissive of obesity also cite CICO in letters to the editor, calls to talkback, blog comments and so on.
The vast majority of CICO advocates, it can easily be established, are not even aware of the points NickM raised, or ignore them as "too hard" and anyway unimportant.
Thus adherence to CICO orthodoxy is not any kind of useful BS detector.

hmavros said...

Am I understanding your argument correctly here?


1. Multi-national corporations push a simplistic version of the CICO equation, as it serves their bottom line;
2. Slim people push a simplistic version of the CICO equation, as they are ignorant;
3. Therefore, the CICO equation cannot serve as an effective BS detector when assessing diet-industry offerings.

George said...

Exactly. A BS detector shibboleth is useless if it is popular among purveyors of diet-industry BS. What would be more useful as a shibboleth would be some indication of insight into the nuances NickM raised.

Craig_in_CT said...

"Over the long run it is all down hill from there metabolically because
the body sees carb restriction as "starvation" no matter how many fat
calories you consume."


I don't think I've ever come across this notion before. Do you have a post or link to an article that explains this in more detail?

hmavros said...

Good science can, and is, co-opted by mischievous parties (as the bard said, "the devil can cite scripture for his purpose"). It doesn't follow that it is therefore useless...it just means that it's a contested field that requires a response from the good guys.


Has it ever been different, George? I mean, has there ever been a time when scientific truths have not been co-opted by profiteers looking to exploit the scientific gullibility of the consumer?


The CICO equation is a useful diagnostic tool and a crucial touchstone principle for holding diet industry claims to account . Sure, it can be exploited by self-interested parties, but it can also be properly explained and defended by those that are 'pure of heart'.


If we abandoned every tool that could potentially be used for ill, we'd all be using plastic cutlery to cut up our steak.

George said...

I am not saying it's a useless tool at all, far from it. I just don't think it's much use as a shibboleth.
I would also point out that, however accurately a dieter can record calories in, it is very difficult to estimate calories out and compare these with calories in IRL. We can eat the same foods, but we cannot perform identical activities in identical ways and still live and work as we need to.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Saying that the CICO equation is valid doesn't mean that calories in & calories out must be measured/recorded/calculated etc.

It does mean that statements like "You can basically exercise as much gluttony as you want...(and still lose weight)" are definitely false.


But we've been there before! ;-)

George said...

Is that a Freudian slip? Because the wishful thinking that one can exercise away the harmful effects of CIAB gluttony is exactly the delusion that CICO fosters, and reason enough to subpoena it for cross-examination.

George said...

"the vast majority of the "energy" generating (ATP production) occurs in metabolic pathways that are common to carbs and fats (and even proteins). This is a point I've made repeatedly here because it is an important one."
What is just as important is the different relationships between the enzymes in these pathways when they are being used for different pathways. The pathways are a maze and there are a number of ways through; also, the glycolytic pathway outside of the mitochondria is only concerned with sugars, and the peroxisomes are only concerned with long-chained fats.
Petrol and diesel look very much alike, but put the wrong one in your car and you will notice that they are in fact different. Different enough.

Adam said...

I think both parties are largely talking past each other here. I feel the reason Nigel focuses on CICO (and the reason this blog in general mentions CICO) is that diet doctors, alternative medicine practitioners and what else have you argue that calories do not count. They argue there exists some metabolic pathways that, when activated, make your body do things such as urinate out calories beyond a certain amount of leanness. Perhaps they have been debunked enough...perhaps they have not.


At the same time I agree that CIAB gluttony happens in response to acceptance of CICO. I've seen people (primarily women who are dieting) skip their regular meals in favour of having a few beers later or having that bag of chips they want. If pressed about it they'll say "Oh I've got this many calories and I want a bag of chips". They proceed to binge later as the food is not sufficiently satiating.


Someone can correct me if I'm wrong about the motivation behind these posts but the focus seems to be debunking those who promote a low carb diet will allow unlimited eating. People who believe this will proceed to eat steaks covered in cheese, butter and mayo to the point of 2000 calories a meal three times a day and begin to notice weight gain.


There is obviously a difference between low carbohydrate promoted by people such as yourself and that promoted in the media. The only appeal for some people to low carbohydrate is the promise they can eat as much as they want. The problem for them is merely shifted. Before they could whatever they want as long as it fits in their caloric limit. Now they can eat whatever they want as long as it fits below a certain carbohydrate threshold.

carbsane said...

That recent Sam Feltham publicity stunt of eating 5000+ cal/day involved eating a pound of nuts per day, ~3000 cal. Some people don't digest nuts well and Sam is likely one of those. So that was the reason for this quip. Or how about corn on the cob vs. fritos ;-)

carbsane said...

http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2010/03/carbohydrate-restriction-regulates.html



Very short one here. I have discussed this many times here just can't put my finger on it. I'll try and find some later.

carbsane said...

Extreme persistent restriction, perhaps. But this was the point of the Fast or Feltham posts. Almost to a one, the long term VLC folks have to restrict calories to ridiculous levels. This happened to me too.


There are no long term studies because humans don't eat that way.

carbsane said...

And the paleos and low carbers are just another part of the diet industry. So?

carbsane said...

The CICO equation is a useful diagnostic tool and a crucial touchstone principle for holding diet industry claims to account .


Exactly!

carbsane said...

Who cares about estimating CO? REE varies like 5% and is outside our control. NEAT seems hardwired but can be manipulated consciously, and if we are inactive in our jobs we can do what we can to increase activity elsewhere. For most, you can get REE measured and your TDEE will be between REE/0.75 (very sedentary) to REE/0.6 (average activity). One can play from there to find weight stable expenditure.


CICO is not about exact numbers.

carbsane said...

fixed ... thanks!

crankybastard said...

This statement, while indisputable in its veracity from a strictly logical standpoint, is spurious sophistry along the lines of what Feinman and Fine enjoy wasting their time on so much: Rambling on and on about biochemical and thermodynamic differentials (the latter of which they get wrong most of the time) in steadfast ignorance of the solid evidence "real-world", controlled trials have consistently produced:
1. All reliable data indicate that different macronutrient compositions do not significantly influence the outcome of long term dietary interventions with regard to weight loss- the apparently real short term metabolic advantage of low carb diets notwithstanding - , as the slew of different dietary strategies utilized by the long term maintainers being tracked by the NWCR nicely illustrates.
2. All reliable data (the metabolic ward studies are particularly relevant here) indicate that the only relevant factor concerning the amount of weight lost on a diet is the magnitude of the caloric deficit created by the dieter; the results of said interventions can be extrapolated remarkably accurately, as most bodybuilders and figure competitors out there can readily testify.
3. All reliable data indicate that the only important nutritional factor pertaining to optimal body composition outcomes on diets (i.e. maximizing (visceral) fat loss/minimizing lean mass loss) is adequate protein intake (the relevant non-nutritional factors being adequate sleep and regular exercise, especially resistance training).
Seeing as it appears that many of the measurable health benefits dieters experience are directly proportional to body composition outcomes (primarily visceral fat loss) alone (as the "Twinkie diet" guy demonstrated to the indignation and dismay of "clean eating" fanatics everywhere), and considering that nutrition science currently has no evidence-based recommendations regarding "health effects beyond CICO" to offer that deviate in any meaningful way from and/or add anything to "Pollanesque" common sense (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly unprocessed.), you would probably be well served to replace your "fine print focus" with more of a "big picture" kind of approach.

carbsane said...

Nice!


Re: #2, it is ironic that the SEO huckster Kosloff likes to use a "black box" to explain why calories don't count. Overfeed, get fat. Underfeed, lose fat. Yes there are nuances mostly related to protein intake and activity (both amount and type).

carbsane said...

Charles, I do believe that the caloric content of plant foods is overestimated due to fiber/digestion/absorption, and that the carb (and thus calorie) count is overestimated by virtue of carb = everything not amino or fatty acid.


I also think the vegan diet you are describing is rather low protein and will result in a lot of "weight" loss due to lean mass loss.

carbsane said...

I have further comment, but your closing statement needs to be responded to. You are confusing his lack of engagement in clarifying what he says with humility. He has made some bold statements about calories that do not jive with what is written in every textbook and taught in every class dealing with these topics. He needs to provide the substantiation of his claims.


As it is he seems happy to skirt about the edges and not answer the basic questions posed. That is not humility.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

A cursory examination of how many calories a day a member of the general public can reasonably be expected to burn by exercising (a few hundred) shows that it's nowhere near what they can reasonably be expected to consume by being gluttonous (a few thousand).

For the general population, eating less has a larger effect on weight change than moving more. Moving more shouldn't be touted as a weight loss tool. It's a good weight maintenance tool, as it improves insulin sensitivity, which helps with appetite control despite what Taubes says about "working up an appetite". Exercise done properly doesn't work up an appetite.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I'm confused. I've done a full page refresh, but the link still contains mailto: at the beginning.

scott said...

5% variation could be significant...do you have any additional information? What causes this variation?

Tsimblist said...

Ditto

George said...

"the long term VLC folks have to restrict calories to ridiculous levels".
Like Jimmy Moore?
I don't know where this obligation comes from. It runs contrary to the popular idea that VLC diets are not calorie-restricted. It may become easy to restrict (or expend) calories excessively, but it's not recommended often. VLC diets in trials haven't been CR so far as I know. It's the CRON people who test the limits, and they're not high-fat.

George said...

So I would prefer them to show some awareness of the nuances and admit that the subject is complex, and that health is a more sensible thing than weight loss to have as the first priority, rather than rely on the same model as The Biggest Loser.
Not everyone on low-carb or paleo diets needs to lose weight. It may be about controlling pain or a hundred other things. Whereas there is only one reason to enroll in Jenny Craig.

hmavros said...

"Whereas there is only one reason to enroll in Jenny Craig"


A strange comment.


Weight loss (and fat loss in particular) can reduce or even resolve the problems folks have with a number of urgent health challenges; chief among these is Type 2 diabetes and MetSyn, but also consider the well document effects on CVD, hypertension, mobility, mood and self-esteem.


If you employ some transitive logic, George, you can easily see that going to Jenny Craig is almost always about one of these downstream benefits. Weight loss is rarely an end in itself, even for inveterate narcissists like myself ;-)

carbsane said...

Yeah like Jimmy. You are right, it runs counter to the claims to promote the diet now doesn't it.

carbsane said...

Don't know what happened there! Here's the link if it didn't "take" now. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/a-mathematical-challenge-to-obesity.html

carbsane said...

Nice comment! Yes, there are a number of problems with calorie counting per se that don't have anything to do with what I'm saying here ... which is that calories always count. There's no magic.

carbsane said...

Eating out / getting pre-prepared food is a huge issue. I don't know how they can manage to get 800 cal into a side of mashed potatoes, but they do. That's not how anyone would make them at home, even extra creamy, etc.

carbsane said...

PS, lack of deliberate CR is not the same as calorie reduced. They always are if weight loss occurs.

carbsane said...

I am not sure if it is measurement error, daily variations or whatever. However this variation would be normally distributed ... IOW it may be a bit higher one day, lower the next, smack dab in the middle most of the time. The temperature of the environment may factor in here or a really big meal the night before, etc. This stuff averages out.

carbsane said...

THE PATHWAYS ARE THE SAME. Sorry to shout, but you apparently don't get that. It's not at all like using the wrong fuel.

scott said...

REE variation is normally distributed? I don't understand your support for this statement (or maybe I am misunderstanding). What about brown fat?

carbsane said...

OK ... let's take body temperature as an example because it is easier to think about. Let's say that your internal mechanisms strive for an average whole-body temperature of 98.6 deg F. If that is your average body temperature, then it is to be expected that it varies a bit around that value so that if you take your temp one day it might be 98.2, 98.8 another, etc. But these sorts of phenomena/measurements tend to be normally distributed with your "true" temp at the mean where most readings will be clustered, but variation essentially symmetrically about that mean barring other issues (e.g. illness). Body weight is like this too, because water weight fluctuates and how much of a meal remains in the gut, etc. If you are weight stable, you don't weigh 150 lbs on the nose every day, you weigh a little more or a little less, but the majority of readings will cluster around 150 and you might have a very low or high reading following a light or heavy day of eating.


This is what I mean about REE. I'll try and dig up a study but my recollection is that the variation is about 5%. Now if someone's REE is 1500 cal/day that amounts to 75 cal/day swing. Over time that would certainly add up. But the point is that one day the REE is 1450 and another it is 1550, etc. so that these deviations average out. Which, BTW, would cover certain calorie counts in foods. If you go by size of the "jumbo" egg, sometimes that egg ld be smaller, sometimes larger but they would average out over time so getting 10 more or fewer calories from an egg is only an issue for the eating disordered person.

Carson Chow said...

Nice post

William Lagakos said...

First, kudos to the commenters – some really great discussion here.

I wrote that part of The poor, misunderstood calorie to describe three different uses of the word “calories” and set some groundwork for later chapters. It’s not exactly novel stuff, and it’s not really all that groundbreaking.

#1: energy to raise water temp (1kg, 15.5-16.5C, etc.).
#2: food.
#3: energy expenditure.

This is what I was getting at: #1 is reliable and never changes, but people trying to change their body composition are dealing with #2 & #3, which, as discussed by the commenters above are far more complex and dependent on a wide variety of factors, some of which we can control, some of which we can’t (lots more on this in the book, but really, many of the comments here really cover a lot of ground).

I’m not saying the amount of energy in 1 kcal of protein is different from that in 1 kcal of sugar or the amount that increases water temp by 1 degree… that would be a Violation. I do, however, put a lot of stress on the effects of diet composition, hormones, and exercise on appetite, nutrient partitioning, and body composition… I’ll also concede that I’m not the most eloquent of writers (as evidenced by my blog as well).

-Bill

carbsane said...

Thanks! (Check the profile, readers, this is the real deal!) I'm sincerely honored.

Sanjeev Sharma said...

hey Evelyn, the comment you replied to doesn't show up for me at all.



I don't know how but one time disqus let me click on "show comment" but I can't get it back again

carbsane said...

Disqus seems to be having issues. That comment was in moderation (maybe? not even sure) two days ago and approved, and then it goes away again. It's not in my "Pending" cue :(

crankybastard said...

(I`m reposting this, since it apparently vanished.)
Calorie counting may be riddled with confounding factors, but applying the principle underlying it even in a vague manner (eyeballing portion sizes) sure as shit is effective given the right macro- and microenvironmental context.
I`ve been living in Japan for three years (urban area). One rarely comes across overweight people around here, let alone someone who is obese, and yet, the Japanese don`t commonly employ heuristics people in the US seem to associate with optimal nutrient partitioning/hormonal milieu effects: They routinely demonstrate a rather pronounced affection for carbs (even the dreaded wheat) - like ramen, udon, melonpan, okonomiyaki -, and there is an insane array of sweet and salty "processed junk foods" and soft drinks available - vending machines are practically everywhere (Robert "The Japanese eat hardly any fructose!" Lustig should drop by sometime.). Plus, people are pretty fond of their booze. So, how do they, by and large, stay slim?
Simply by adjusting their portion sizes in accordance with how their clothes fit. Since standing out from the crowd is abhorred, and being fat would mean standing out, whenever someone feels that their pants are getting tight, they just cut back on the after-work drinks at their izakaya of choice, or visit their favourite ramen place a little less often for a while - no digital scales or advanced knowledge of thermodynamics required. In fact, my Japanese friends are routinely baffled at the concept of completely overhauling one`s diet in order to lose weight/improve health, when just eating a little less is so simple and effective in their experience. ( Gary Taubes and his posse would probably argue that the Japanese eat fewer carbs than Americans as far as absolute amounts are concerned and thus exist in a state of "relative carb restriction"; but, alas, they are most definitely not compliant with the "low-carb approved" range of intake, which (according to "low-carb dogma") should trigger a vicious circle of hyperinsulinemia-driven overeating resulting in widespread obesity; this clearly isn`t happening, as I can attest to.)
In contrast, Americans appear to either avoid "regular everyday movement" like the plague and wolf down ridiculous amounts of food - I visited the Southern US a while ago; people drove literally everywhere, and the serving sizes at restaurants/fast food places seemed almost comically humongous to me - or be consumed with creating and executing "the optimal diet and exercise plan" that will deliver "perfect health" without fail.
As far as the latter is concerned, my personal foray into "optimizing my gene expression" according to "primal" parameters (undertaken in order to get my constantly nagging sister, who happens to be a devout acolyte, off my back) left me rather underwhelmed: Three months of eating (to satiety) as per Paleo Messiah Mark Sisson`s "blueprint" resulted in no tangible benefits; what I got out of it instead was ten pounds of (mostly visceral) fat gain (as determined by DXA scans) and the corresponding ldl-p and crp elevations, which even the most unconventional wisdom out there regards as decidedly undesirable.
All in all, I am pretty sure of two things:
1. We don`t yet know nearly as much about how factors beyond CICO influence health and body composition as the various "gurus" pretend we do.
2. The practical relevance of the "myriad confounding factors" which allegedly render calorie counting/portion control a quest doomed to failure is vastly overstated.

carbsane said...

Let me know if you see this folks ... I do! It has been bouncing back to "needs moderation" and I have no idea why :(

crankybastard said...

(I`m reposting this, since it has apparently vanished.)
Calorie counting may be riddled with confounding factors, but applying the principle underlying it even in a vague manner (eyeballing portion sizes) sure as shit is effective given the right macro- and microenvironmental context.
I`ve been living in Japan for three years (urban area). One rarely comes across overweight people around here, let alone someone who is obese, and yet, the Japanese don`t commonly employ heuristics people in the US seem to associate with optimal nutrient partitioning/hormonal milieu effects: They routinely demonstrate a rather pronounced affection for carbs (even the dreaded wheat) - like ramen, udon, melonpan, okonomiyaki -, and there is an insane array of sweet and salty "processed junk foods" and soft drinks available - vending machines are practically everywhere (Robert "The Japanese eat hardly any fructose!" Lustig should drop by sometime.). Plus, people are pretty fond of their booze. So, how do they, by and large, stay slim?
Simply by adjusting their portion sizes in accordance with how their clothes fit. Since standing out from the crowd is abhorred, and being fat would mean standing out, whenever someone feels that their pants are getting tight, they just cut back on the after-work drinks at their izakaya of choice, or visit their favourite ramen place a little less often for a while - no digital scales or advanced knowledge of thermodynamics required. In fact, my Japanese friends are routinely baffled at the concept of completely overhauling one`s diet in order to lose weight/improve health, when just eating a little less is so simple and effective in their experience. ( Gary Taubes and his posse would probably argue that the Japanese eat fewer carbs than Americans as far as absolute amounts are concerned and thus exist in a state of "relative carb restriction"; but, alas, they are most definitely not compliant with the "low-carb approved" range of intake, which (according to "low-carb dogma") should trigger a vicious circle of hyperinsulinemia-driven overeating resulting in widespread obesity; this clearly isn`t happening, as I can attest to.)
In contrast, Americans appear to either avoid "regular everyday movement" like the plague and wolf down ridiculous amounts of food - I visited the Southern US a while ago; people drove literally everywhere, and the serving sizes at restaurants/fast food places seemed almost comically humongous to me - or be consumed with creating and executing "the optimal diet and exercise plan" that will deliver "perfect health" without fail.
As far as the latter is concerned, my personal foray into "optimizing my gene expression" according to "primal" parameters (undertaken in order to get my constantly nagging sister, who happens to be a devout acolyte, off my back) left me rather underwhelmed: Three months of eating (to satiety) as per Paleo Messiah Mark Sisson`s "blueprint" resulted in no tangible benefits; what I got out of it instead was ten pounds of (mostly visceral) fat gain (as determined by DXA scans) and the corresponding ldl-p and crp elevations, which even the most unconventional wisdom out there regards as decidedly undesirable.
All in all, I am pretty sure of two things:
1. We don`t yet know nearly as much about how factors beyond CICO influence health and body composition as the various "gurus" pretend we do.
2. The practical relevance of the "myriad confounding factors" which allegedly render calorie counting/portion control a quest doomed to failure is vastly overstated.

George said...

Case in point:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/30/junk-food-calories

George said...

Would you enroll in Jenny Craig if you were normal weight with problems curable with diet? I think not. But you could use paleo or VLC with benefit. There is the difference.

George said...

If you are metabolically diseased, some pathways work better than others. It is better to use substrates that favour (for example) the fully functioning components of the ETC. Things will work better then.
Fats do not use the cytosolic glycolytic pathway carbsane.
Sugars do not use peroxisomal oxidation pathways.
Sugars, unless used for DNL, do not undergo beta-oxidation.
apart from those and a few other differences i suppose, yes, it is all the same.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Your original comment is still there at http://carbsanity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/the-poor-misunderstood-kilowatthour.html#comment-981241834 , but it's gone into moderation for some unknown reason. I can see it by clicking on a "show comment" link. If you don't have a Disqus account, you can't do this.

carbsane said...

The vast majority of ATP is generated from the point of Acetyl CoA forward (Krebs + ETC). SAME pathways. I am talking about these supposed efficiency differentials George.

carbsane said...

Also with ketones, it's more a transport bypass and entering Krebs at a slightly different point (like some AA's do) and/or then entering like good old acetyl CoA.

George said...

The point of entry into Krebs seems determine the product in some cases, which is why there are gluconeogenic amino acids.
However fatty acid carbons do not enter Krebs as acetyl-CoA until after yielding NADH and FADH2 in beta oxidation. Sugars enter Krebs after yielding only several NADH in glycolysis. These differences can matter.

carbsane said...

Even LC advocate Richard Feinman has shot this nonsense down. But keep getting our metabolic information from non-academic sources.

hmavros said...

You'd using Jenny Craig if you thought that weight loss was the mediating factor in eliciting the improvements (which is a notion well-supported by the research).


If you thought that paleo/VLC would not or could not promote weight loss, then ipso facto, you wouldn't use them.

George said...

First sentence - why do you think 2-carbon from some amino acids is characterized as "gluconeogenic" while 2-carbon from others appears to be less so? I have not worked this out, suggestions are welcome.
Second and third sentences - axiomatic so far as I know.
Fourth sentence - inference that differences in metabolic pathways are involved in determining the differential effect of different macronutrients - it would be pretty remarkable and unlike nature if this had no effect, was just random "noise", that there was nuttin to see but ATP. I hope your coming post will clear any confusion.

George said...

Eliciting the improvements is what's important. All diets are less effective for sustainable weight loss than all people would like. If, therefore, a diet will produce the health benefits associated with weight loss even when it fails to produce said weight loss like all other diets, because CI is still keeping pace with CO, that diet is clearly the superior diet that should be prescribed, assuming that all diets are equally slimming.
http://caloriesproper.com/?p=2941

Carson Chow said...

I read the first 20 pages and its not that bad. His main point is that it is hard to measure energy intake and expenditure accurately, which is true, and that energy efficiency changes under various physiological circumstances, which is also true. His main point seems to be that energy balance is not useful for managing weight. I don't think the situation is that dire but I agree that it is less useful for individuals because people have no idea how much they eat. However, energy balance is very useful for understanding group and population averages because we can average over the uncertainties. I thus think that energy balance per se may be useful more for policy decisions than for individual weight loss advice.

rand18m said...

You Cranky (but correct) bastard!!!

Couldn't agree more!

However things do seem to change once the adipose has greatly hypertrophied for many, but that's a pathological condition outside of this discussion.

Charles Peden said...

Yeah, I wasn't real clear on what I'm doing.


When I'm eating low calorie it's 3 fruits for breakfast, 3 fruits for lunch, and a large salad with commercial dressing for dinner PLUS multigrain club crackers with a can of kipper snacks (my low calorie phase is not vegan). Sometimes I skip the crackers and fish and make a taco salad with Yves ground rounds (fake meat), taco seasoning and beans on the salad.


After a week or so I use a planned cheat day as a washout period. Then it's either back to the low calories or I take a break and just eat ad lib vegan.


I'm not religiously dogmatic about eating vegan. It's just that it keeps me from gravitating to the more high fat/low nutrition foods. It also provides some structure and cuts back on my impulse eating.

carbsane said...

This is bizarre b/c it is not in my moderation queue. Here's what happened yesterday. Went to look at it in Disqus and in the "All" tab it was gray/faded ... so I hit approve again. Very strange.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I can still see it as "awaiting moderation" and it still appears when I click "show comment". I hope Disqus isn't going flaky as a result of its own popularity. Does whitelisting crankybastard help?

carbsane said...

Thanks for coming over from Twitter Bill. Actually, once absorbed, #2 is more reliable than #1 because eventually these molecules are metabolized to completion and excreted as CO2, thus the full "calories in" -- energy in the bonds -- are utilized. The metabolic cost of this may well be different, but this is expenditure, and perhaps what you are getting at when you basically say calories in are not the same as calories out. My point is that this does nothing but confuse the issue and add further confusion.

Calories #1 are the same as calories #2, and I still don't see where one can make the claim that #3 are some different entity entirely. I think it goes beyond literary eloquence to state: "The calories in food are not the same as those expended by the body" ... because, yes they are.

On a personal note, it would be nice if you didn't take personal pot shots at me about the web. If you decide to go back into scientific research some day, yucking it up with someone who routinely derides a fellow scientist (not me), is probably not a good idea either.



I would be happy to set up a podcast discussion/debate on this topic. It would surely be a popular listen, don't you think? You game?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"Big Food" is getting craftier. It's going to use human psychology to its own advantage by making calorie-conscious people think that low-calorie CIAB is healthy. Non-calorie-conscious people don't know/care about calorie labelling. Conscious restriction of anything doesn't work well long-term, for the general population. Therefore, calorie labelling is mostly pointless.

carbsane said...

OK, now I'm confused! I don't want to cause a rift but are you saying this Body Weight Simulator is not useful for the individual?

I agree that it is difficult to do, it is impossible to do with any degree of "instantaneous" accuracy. Also intake is easier to manipulate than expenditure. But Bill (and others) have gone from Taubes -- we overeat because we are getting fatter not the other way around -- to implying that calories have nothing to do with body weight. They are so disconnected it is useless to bother. Or as his chapter 2 title says: Why no proper calorie applies to weight loss.


I am also hung up on this interpretation of what he wrote that how we use the food alters the caloric content of the food. In the energy balance equation, is not TEF, etc. on the expenditure side of things?

Carson Chow said...

It works well on average but you could bIe an outlier. It does get the dynamics well though in estimating how long it will take to get to steady state. It works well empirically but your mileage could vary.

scott said...

I couldn't find anything supporting your statement that REE is normally distributed or random.


There are papers indicating REE can be influenced by resistance training & diet:

http://www.jappl.org/content/89/3/977.short

http://www.jappl.org/content/89/3/977.short

carbsane said...

I'm not sure if we have miscommunication here or not, and for the life of me there's a vocabulary term for this type of variable that escapes me. You likely won't find this studied, it's more of a phenomenon observed for this sort of thing. If you were to measure REE every morning for a year, in someone who is not dramatically changing anything, and plot frequency vs. rate (small ranges) you would likely get a normal distribution where most of the readings are close to the mean and you get a few high readings and a few low ones.


Please don't take this statement as some absolutist cut and dried fact, but I was responding to your comment that 5% could be considerable. The point I'm getting at is that the 5% variation is about some "norm" so if it is high one day, that's balanced out at some point in time by a low another day. It would cancel out over the long term.


I'm not saying that you can't alter it, although I looked into this quite a bit a year or maybe even two years ago, and the results are quite variable in this regard.


Your resistance training study is one such example. (Did you have one for diet? You posted the same link twice.) In this case these folks added almost 4.5 lbs lean mass which was 4% increase and the average increase in REE was from 1288 cal to 1375 cal = 87 cal/day = 6.8%.


Here is the TEE data -- I wonder whassup with subject #09 there. What I do notice is that 4 subjects had no significant change in TEE. Don't know what the individual changes for REE were.












I'll try and look but I'm busy with other stuff behind the scenes here so I may

Sanjeev Sharma said...

trying to discredit conservation laws ... various folks have tacked differently into this wind. A few attempts we've seen hereabouts

appeal to (misquoted) authority: Friedman(Leptin's discoverer) and a researcher @ Columbia (I forget the name) are common in this strategy.

out of context considerations: "open system" exemptions
equilibrium exemptions

At various times I've seen textbook quotes from physics (statistical thermo, mis-applied 3rd law considerations), chemistry (equilibrium considerations)

practicality: "it's just way too hard to do" (this one often is accompanied by the straw men)

rhetorical: "it's a tautology" - This last one used to rile me up enormously but these folks seem to be more open to not going whole hog denialism.

reductionism: placing one small part of the system in control of the system and claiming that it in some way "trumps" conservation laws.

"dwell on trivia"/losing the forest for the trees - Some of this is obvious (to me, anyway) in some comments on this post.

LWC said...

Heavy cream and butter is my guess. But hey! None of those fat soluble vitamins will be escaping...


The amount of butter used in commercial kitchens is astounding (to me). I have a niece who trained to be a chef. I have watched her prepare food. It is always delicious. It is never without a ton of butter.


Anthony Bourdain's line about butter is, "First thing in the pan, last thing in the sauce."

LWC said...

I agree that altering eating patterns has a larger effect, but I disagree that moving more isn't a weight loss tool. I think moving more is very important, and goes a long way to "cover" any inaccuracy of measuring calories ingested. At least that was my experience.

This is where I think NEAT is under appreciated. Most write it off as "hereditary." Well, fidgeting might by an inherited trait, but standing is not. Increasing your NEAT can be as simple as choosing to stand more often. It requires no gym membership, no equipment (not even shoes) and humans of all sizes can do it.

Life is not linear, and neither is the energy balance. People like Stanton want a cookie (or whatever reward Paleo Bros give themselves-- a hunk of meat? ) for recognizing the calories in vs calories out isn't a linear relationship.



Okay, that last paragraph had nothing to do with your comment, but I've wanted to say for awhile.

Myron Schwarzennecker said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to repost, it was well worth reading.


When I was growing up, there was a saying: don't eat like a pig. Nowadays, eating like a pig is a civil right and the new saying is "nothing is your fault".

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I was basing my "moving more isn't a weight loss tool" on the n=1 of a Facebook friend (ex-friend if she reads this, lol), who used to regularly post statuses (until I unsubscribed) saying things like "I burned "X" Calories on the treadmill today". As she is getting fatter, I suspect that she rewards her sterling efforts with treats containing more than "X" Calories. Human psychology, eh?

I prefer to walk, as it's not a horrible activity that I feel the need to reward myself for doing. That said, I used to reward myself for walking, and wondered why my weight was going up!

George said...

Furthermore, look at the involvement of mitochondrial pathways in chronic diseases of civilisation. You will tend to find problems with NADH dehydrogenase (excess accumulation of NADH, or excess ROS from ETC complex I promoting gluconeogenesis by phosphorylation of FOX01). You won't find much dysfunction of FADH2 accepting complexes. So it makes sense to favour FADH2 in these states. Which is IMO one reason why high fat works in practice; the mitochondrion gets the ATP it needs with less risk of reductive or oxidative stress.
Whether it also works in theory is a matter for the academics to decide.

carbsane said...

You are missing the point still. The vast majority of ATP is produced from AcetylCoA through Krebs/ETC. Pathways are all the same from that point.

carbsane said...

You'll have to link me to full text peer review to support what you are talking about here. Each claim. Thank you.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Is it possible that increasing sedentary behaviour is one cause of the increasing occurrence of chronic diseases of civilisation, by down-regulating the pathways that use NADH dehydrogenase?

George said...

Pathways converge at Krebs, after also yielding ATP variously outside it. But what happens outside Krebs can be of critical importance for metabolic health.

carbsane said...

I am talking energy and bodyweight .. you cannot mix and match everything or you get the scamming that is low carb "science" these days.


I am particularly interested in this gluconeogenesis inducing mitochondrial complex though. Do tell.

George said...

Here's a typical mention of the inter-relationship between ETC and FOX01. It gets even more complicated because ketone bodies inhibit FOX01.
I will see if I can dig up the papers

Foxo1 integrates insulin signaling with mitochondrial function in the liver
http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v15/n11/abs/nm.2049.html

The expression of several forkhead box O1 (Foxo1) target genes increased in the DKO liver, including heme oxygenase-1 (Hmox1), which disrupts complex III and IV of the respiratory chain and lowers the NAD+/NADH ratio and ATP production.

Deletion of hepatic Foxo1 in DKO liver normalized the expression of Hmox1 and the NAD+/NADH ratio, reduced Ppargc-1 acetylation and restored mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and biogenesis. Thus, Foxo1 integrates insulin signaling with mitochondrial function, and inhibition of Foxo1 can improve hepatic metabolism during insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.

Also
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2665253/

And here we have an example of complex I inhibition in a condition with increased gluconeogenesis via inhibition of FOX01 phosphorlyation thru oxidative stress, associated with increased risk of diabetes and fatty liver:
http://www.jbc.org/content/280/45/37481.short

"In addition, there was reduced activity of electron transport complex I, and increased ROS production from complex I substrates. There were no abnormalities observed in complex II or complex III function. Incubation of control mitochondria in vitro with recombinant core protein also caused glutathione oxidation, selective complex I inhibition, and increased ROS production."

Maybe it is a bridge too far to suggest at this stage, but it makes sense if dietary DM2 involves a similar mechanism, as DM2 seems to be, if you believe all the low-carb diabetics, uniquely amenable to the (relative) restriction of Complex I substrates in a context where the mitochondria have otherwise adequate energy. I mean, I'm certainly not certain but all it seems too much of a co-incidence, and I noticed yesterday that metformin inhibits complex I, suggesting that it may also influence glucose homeostasis through it.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15047621

I take your point about confusing energy and bodyweight with disease processes, but if obesity is not a disease or connected with these diseases then it ought to be fine. And if it is connected, then disease processes will be the key to understanding it. However it is not my aim to suggest that any unproven intervention might be justified by some explanation that I might be able to proffer, but that proven interventions might be explicable in a variety of compatible ways.

I note that if complex I activity is problematic in some cases, it is quite possible that there are other states in which complex I substrates might be preferred, and there might well be cases for high-carb diets, though it does seem that complex I dysfunction turns up most often.
And that there is more than one way to skin a cat, for example with fibre taking the place of fat in those lucky enough to ferment it to butyrate effectively.
I don't want to appear dogmatic as it will take someone with more sense than me to make this all fit together, or to prove that it won't.

carbsane said...

So ... your first paper is like a LIRKO mouse. Which as we know is totally equivalent to human diseased states. C'mon George. When one is forced to look at the inconvenient lessons from this mouse -- e.g. hyperinsulinemic but no loss of pancreatic function and doesn't get fat -- folks point to something else that must be going on, etc. Create a sick mouse and see some mitochondrial dysfunction?


What do UCP2 & 3 do? How about in actual humans with real metabolic dysfunction? Enjoy ...



Fiber to fat? Come on. Are you really going down that again? You don't want to appear dogmatic, but you are.

George said...

Yes(!), I think we're talking about what's called metabolic inflexibility.
Those references to parts of the ETC being inhibited - that's what that looks like to the mitochondrion. Single celled organisms (like archaea) can't regulate CICO with neurons or hormones. And maybe there's a reason for those ratios between optimal carb intake and level of activity that Mark Sisson came up with.


"Physical inactivity as the culprit of metabolic inflexibility: evidence from bed-rest studies.

This evidence will focus on four main tenants of metabolic inflexiblity: 1) insulin resistance, 2) impaired lipid trafficking and hyperlipidemia, 3) a shift in substrate use toward glucose, and 4) a shift in muscle fiber type and ectopic fat storage. Altogether, this hypothesis places sedentary behaviors upstream on the list of factors involved in metabolic inflexibility, which is considered to be a primary impairment in several metabolic disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21836047

A shift in substrate use towards glucose; is this connected to upregulated gluconeogenesis?

Note that all calories out are not equal either. Certainly with regard to partitioning, e.g. only vigorous exercise improves fatty liver by upregulating PPAR-alpha.
Lactate as "activity factor"? In vigorous exercise only, the liver has to make lactate - and NAD+.

George said...

Not saying lots of butyrate is available, but butyrate seems to punch above its weight with regard to metabolic health.

George said...

Balancing CICO instinctually involves activity of neurons and other cells, and quality of calories and activity determines the health of these cells, their ability to perform different functions.
Rate and type of activity, the stimulation of ketone and lactate metabolism, the balance of carbohydrate and fat, the amino acid anabolic/catabolic flux, are all things that influence the fitness of cells to perform, in a co-ordinated manner, the functions that control appetite, energy storage, and activity. Macronutrients matter, and they matter more as this function gets more impaired.

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