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“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!)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Calorie Needs & Expenditure

Hello all!

Just a quick follow on post to my previous one on caloric needs inspired by a recent diet comparison RCT.  

In comments there, Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters blog (and author of the new book The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work) made the following comment:
The Journal of the American Dietetic Association (I believe) once had a study looking at all of the various calculators (not including Hall's) and it crowned the Mifflin-St Jeor the best as compared with indirect calorimetry results.
Here's a link to the study he was (correctly) recalling:  Comparison of Predictive Equations for Resting Metabolic Rate in Healthy Nonobese and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review.    (unfortunately not free access) 

The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is more likely than the other equations tested to estimate RMR to within 10% of that measured, but noteworthy errors and limitations exist when it is applied to individuals and possibly when it is generalized to certain age and ethnic groups. RMR estimation errors would be eliminated by valid measurement of RMR with indirect calorimetry, using an evidence-based protocol to minimize measurement error.
For comparison, the average REE in "the study"  for 60 y.o., 5'4", 190 lb women was about 1300 calories/day (measured by indirect calorimetry).  The average TDEE of about 2300 calories/day after measuring PAEE with an activity monitor and adjusting the total for TEF.  Lastly, the reported intake was 2000 cal/day.

What does the Mifflin-St Jeor equation predict?  This calculator uses this equation, and I've screenshot the results.  

Using the equation, BMR is calculated at 1355 cal/day.

I have no way of knowing, but since the physical activity would have had to be quite rigorous to achieve a TDEE of 2300 with an REE of 1300, I tend to think the activity monitor was the problem in that study.

Want more information on the Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation?  Here is a link to the (full text) of the paper about its derivation:  A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals.  On page 245 is my "money picture" -- this is the one I remembered but could never locate again!  Thank you Yoni!!


This is what I'm talking about, and it's not about dissing the predictors even, it's about predictions for the mean vs. predictions for the individual.   Pick a weight or lean body mass and scan a vertical line up and see the range.  On the flip-side, pick an REE and look at the range of people whose total or lean mass share the same resting energy needs.

It IS true that self reported dietary intake tends to be lower than measured by doubly labeled water technique.  But it doesn't have to be.  That's like saying you are incapable of weighing and measuring ... I know you are not.  This is not to say that most can, or even should, do this for all eternity.  But to get a handle on TDEE, if you can't get an REE measurement for a starting point, knowing your current intake is probably the next best thing.

More to come ...


charles grashow said...

The full paper
Comparison of Predictive Equations for Resting Metabolic Rate in Healthy Nonobese and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review

yonifreedhoff said...

A pleasure.

carbsane said...


Susanne said...

Psst! Typo ... "WeightY Matters."

Hi Yoni! Big fan! I also admire Kaleo, but I never believed that calculator. And none of them really explain very well what their activity ranges are, I never have any idea whether what I do is supposed to be in the "moderate," mild", "vigorous" or whatever category. And I'm an internet weightloss/fitness website supergeek. How is someone new to this supposed to figure out what to do? Gonna check which calculators the .gov and .org
(ADA, AHA etc.) websites use, if they use one.

It looks like, based on my weight/calories history, that the Mifflin St Jeor is (somewhat depressingly) more accurate. And I use a food scale, so I pride myself on being fairly good in my counting. Although even there I occasionally discover I am fooling myself unintentionally. I don't normally obsess over vegetable counts, just eat a bunch, but this week I tried out the new Google calories search thingie, checked what a standard "carrot" is actually supposed to weigh and discovered my carrots are actually 2 1/2 times that.

They are Australian grass-fed carrots tho so totally Primal (tm). :)

Victor Venema said...

Dear Evelyn, I would be curious what the just eat less and move more fraction thinks of this article in Psychology Today: Why Diets Don't Work,It's not just about the food.

carbsane said...

Fixed the typo thanks :-)

I think the thing with the veggies balances out because absorption of those calories is generally not as complete. Plus I hear that you really want the dirt-fed carrots ;-) LOL.

But yeah, it is very easy to misjudge when counting. I do think this is one reason our national obsession with calories led us to consuming more pre-packaged foods. A can of tuna, wrapped cheese slices, packaged ham, a carton of yogurt, a Lean Cuisine or a Hungry Man, or even a package of noodles with sauce, all contain X calories per the label. Back when there were those innacurate spring loaded scales and calorie tables only said "small apple" or "medium tomato" it made things difficult. I now own a digital scale that is the size of a Kindle and can measure grams, ounces, etc. it cost me $15 and it's darned accurate. No more guesswork there.

Some seem to be taking this and the last post as a criticism of those who use healthcalc. They were not meant to be, they were just to point out where we have measured data what the estimators would have said. If you're a shorty, you likely don't get to be a big eater :(

Tsimblist said...

I liked it. Especially this part:

"But simple things do work:

1. People who move around a lot have better weight control.Humans are built to move, not sit."

carbsane said...

Mostly a mix of meaningless facts and hyperbole with some outright mistruths. I'm pretty confident in saying that there is no 400 lbs woman who will actually eat 600 cal/day and not lose weight.

The gut biome thing with the numbers of cells is meaningless. I tend to think this is more effect than cause.

The womb and childhood - there's as much to be said for preterm and malnourishment predisposing to obesity as being a large baby/child.

The rest kinda a list of everything under the sun.

But in the end, the quote Tsimblist pulled out. Sounds good to me!

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