Calories in and calories out…is that the end all be all?

There is a great discussion going on over on Art DeVany’s site on energy balance and fat metabolism. It all stemmed from Gary Taube’s lecture at Berkeley. Mr Taube has been dismissed by those who hold the current paradigm that people who are fat are fat because they aren’t active and over eat, i.e. it’s partly a psychological problem. He shows that this isn’t true in many cases, most cases in fact. He is dismissed because what he says is supposedly the same as the Atkins diet. I haven’t studied the Atkins diet myself. Although, I’ve read a fair amount about fat metabolism and the Inuit studies, etc. where it all comes from. My take on the Inuit study is that they needed to do the study again for a longer period of time in terms of “bonking”. Two-weeks isn’t long enough for the glucose weaning.

There are a great deal of facts on this issue to assemble to get a picture. Many folks assemble the facts to different conclusions. I can tell you from my experience that replacing grains, starches and sugar in all forms with high quality vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats/fish, and fruit and doing brief intense exercise will change your body. I keep my walks to about 30 minutes a day and alternate doing sprints and strength exercises in various arrangements. I don’t watch calories at all. I watch the types of food. I will do toast and pancakes with the kids occasionally (instant food coma!). Dark chocolate is another story.

It is interesting in the Taube lecture that the calories in to calories out equation appears not to be true in every case. Animals fed fewer calories just moved less. Animals fed more moved more. The energy balance wasn’t straight forward. Rats with ovaries removed got obese when fed a lot and when fed very little. It was the lack of estrogen and not the calories that determined their obesity. Why energy balance is dynamic isn’t agreed upon. That it even exists isn’t agreed upon. The one thing that we can rely on is that we don’t have all the information. Anytime you think you know everything about something, something unexplained happens. It is important not to dismiss the unexplained…and get left behind.

Let those who want to dig in and find out all the cellular details do just that. In the meantime, I will continue testing things for myself. So far, I am lean and feeling great and happy about my health doing what I described above. I’ll be interested to see what the words are on this subject in 10 years. I bet it will be to eat high quality/nutrient dense foods and do mild exercise.

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