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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (
Subject:         Re: Jeff: Your Opinion: Is a calorie a calorie?
Date: August 22, 2007 at 4:44 am PST

In Reply to: Jeff: Your Opinion: Is a calorie a calorie? posted by Steve on August 21, 2007 at 5:30 pm:

Hi Steve

WOW. :)

Yes, from all my understanding, a calorie is a calorie. The limits
you discuss are not in the calories, its in the understanding and
measurement of a calories

Some of the issues you raised stem from the fact that while a
calorie is a calore, the methods we have to determine calories are
not very good. Not only calories in, but calories out, and also
other pathways (heat, etc).

Low fat diets failed, not for the reason you stated. The actual fat
content per person in the US since 1970 has gone up, not down, as
many beleive. There were many problems with the low fat diets
that people went on,... they were often highly processed, highly
refined foods, that were very calorie dense that people often ate
more of. Being they were low fat, people also often thought they
could eat more with no consequence.. These often had no less fat,
but were only marketed as such (See my presentation). So, while
the percentage of fat appeared to go done, the actual amount of
fat went up.

Yes, low fat diets based on naturally occuring, intact, low fat foods,
like fresh fruits, veggies, intact whole grains, starchy veggies and
legumes ate naturally filling and people naturally consume less
calories. In one of the famous Hawaiin diet studies, the subjects
naturally ate 40% less by going on such a diet. There is an article
at my website in the blog about this, called Seperating the Wheat
From The Chaff.

So, while there are man interpretations of each, we have mainly 2
different general types of low fat diets, one that is high in refined ,
processed calorie dense, fiber and nutrient poor foods, and one
that is rich in naturally occuring unprocessed unrefined intact low
fat, high fiber, calorie light foods

There is some difference in the way the macro nutrients are
metabolized but in general in most diets, not enough to make a
huge difference. Eat less of one, you eat more of one of the others,
so the average doesnt usually change much.

And, fat is stored a little easier, (some think due to an evolutionary
process) so less calories are burned in the process
Carbs may not be stored as easy, but the calories dont dissapear,
they are burned off as heat. But, even this can be overridden if you
keep overeating and the calories will be stored as fat. Protein does
cause a slight higher increase in thermogenisis also, but again, we
dont eat 100% protein, fat, or carb, but always a mixture,.

>>This seems to contradict the experience of many people who
gained weight on low fat diets eating processed low fat, but high
calorie food ( example cookies with no fat but extra sweetener ).

The reason, low fat was promoted was not because of some trick,
but because fat is more calorie dense, so the logic was cutting out
fat would cause one to cut out calories. But that didnt happen
because people substituted or switched to calorie dense foods
which they overate on. So, even if it was truly low fat, they ate more
of the food and in the end , calories count. So, the diets failed not
cause they were low fat, or cause of some paradox, but cause they
ate more calories.

When they put people in metabolic chambers, and can measure
every single calorie in, and out, by monitoring all food in, all
activity, temperature, humidity, etc, its always calories in and
calories out, even when they change the macronutrient content of
the diet, as long as calories are mantained.

If you are familiar with CR-ON, there are 1000s of people following
that right now and they very carefully measure everything they eat,
and without exception, they lose weight on less calories. And, the
interesting thing is, some do it by low fat, some a more zone,
some a more high fat diet. Same thing has happened in animals in
1000s of experiments over decades.

>>It would seem that no matter how you take in your excess
calories that if they are excess, you will put on fat ( see the study
pasted at the bottom labeled "#2" )

Over time, this is correct.

>>I don't know what to believe, except for my own experience in
having success with calorie counting and a high bulk diet

Correct. Calories do count and a high bulk diet makes it easier
because you dont get hungry. And, if its the right foods, its also
higher in nutrients.

ITs not that fat is bad, per see, if its not saturated fat. Its that in
the context of the total diet, fat increases calorie density and
lowers overall nutrient density. So, to create a lower calorie diet
that is both filling and satisfying and high in nutrients, is very
difficult if it has too much fat in it.

DO the experiement. Use one of the nutrition software I

Then, create a 1800 calorie diet that is nutrient dense, meeting all
the known requirements for vitamins, minerals, fiber etc, and
doesnt have too much of the bad, so it doesnt exceed the amounts
of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, etc. Also,
make sure you have plenty to eat so you dont go hungry. (so, we
cant invent the perfect food "pill" or supplement as we will be
hungry all day if that is all we ate)>

Isnt this what nutrition is supposed to do for us? :)

Then, see the fat content of the diet. Then, try to raise the fat
content of the diet, without changing the nutrient density and the
calorie density of the diet, significantly.

Its nearly impossible to do. The only exception is if one was to
create the situtation where one can ingest large amount of calories
due to lots of excessive activity and then we may want to question
the l/t health benefits of that. And most Americans, who are
older, and have injuries, cant do that.

I have done the above experiment many many many times (did i
say many?) and it is almost impossible to do with a percentage of
fat over 20%, unless the total calories go way up (which i am not
recommending). In fact, its a standing challange i have. Try to
accomplish the goal with a percent fat of 30% or more at 1800
calories. I have yet to have someone do it and hit all the nutrient
levels or not exceed the levels of the things that are limited

BTW, this is exactly what the WHO said in their 2003 report on
obesity.. that they recommended range of fat was around 15-35%
and the higher ranges would only work in those who are VERY
active. And again, emphasis is on VERY Active as, their minimum
level of activity they recommended is 60 minutes a day.

Hppe that helps
In Health
Jeff N

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