Calories Revisited – What is the missing link?
For a long time calories have been a centre of the weight loss theory and source of big debate. You can split the calories argument into two sides. Those that say it is only about what you eat (calories) verses how much you burn and those who counter it by saying that there are some large flaws experimentally in this process. Weight watchers for example, built their empire on the first assumption before changing sides recently to the latter.
My personal experience
I have used both sides of the debate in regards to calories. I started out using them as a basis for nutrition for years but for the last 7 years I have been against the argument of calorie counting as one was too much effort for the average person and had some huge holes in the theory. Though energy content had to be a part of the picture I felt that eating the right foods sorted out the calories issue. As you know, for me I do not care what theory is “right”, but simply which theory works for the client before me.
Food for thought
I decided to re-examine calories during my recent sabbatical in Brazil. It came about from reading “The fat loss bible” by Anthony Colpo. A very well researched and ferocious nutrition researcher / blogger from Australia (see his blog to understand what I mean).
The issue of calories also became a bigger factor since introducing the numerous mind strategies from my book and Effortless Weight Loss Motivation System. With highly motivated people there was a tendency that they would effectively stop eating all together. I needed a minimum consumption threshold.
The Fat Loss Bible bases its argument for calories model on metabolic ward studies. This is when the food intake of participants is completely controlled and no other food is available. The idea is that in any free study the reporting of calorie consumption by the individuals within the study can be wildly inaccurate.
The general results from these studies were that regardless of the type of diet the single factor that determined results was how many calories consumed. This made interesting reading. It was also interesting to note how some of the studies showed 1100 calories diets did not produce more fat loss than 1600 calories diets.
Testing the way forwards
In my experience with almost any issue in nutrition that has two completely opposing arguments that the only reality is they are both true/right to a certain extent or context that they are applied to. I decided the only way forward was to return to the calories model with a personal experiment. I decided to track everything eaten and weigh it against body fat losses.
I measured the weight of all food eaten, the grams and therefore calories within the food. I took note also of the sugar and complete protein content* as well as charting body fat. This allowed me to calculate food ratio’s, food per body gram, % of water in foods, % sugar within diet and amount of complete protein per body weight.
I went into it with an open mind and just done as an observational experiment. In part 2 I will reveal the results.