Monday, 7 July 2014

Why Calories count (where weight change is concerned).

I have to add the words "where weight change is concerned", as calories have little to do with body composition or general health (unless somebody becomes morbidly obese).

Arguments used by Calorie Denialists include:-

1) Calories don't count because the human body isn't a Bomb Calorimeter and treats different macronutrients differently.
100g of liquid paraffin burns in a Bomb Calorimeter, yielding 900kcals. In a human, it passes through completely undigested. Ah-ha!, I hear you saying. This proves that the Energy Balance Equation is invalid. Uh, nope!

Calories in = Calories entering mouth - Calories exiting anus

As 100% of liquid paraffin calories entering the mouth exit the anus, Calories in = 0

This is why Sam Feltham's "Smash the Fat" "experiment" is nonsense. A high percentage of the large amount of raw almonds he ate would have exited his anus incompletely chewed, undigested & unabsorbed.

See the picture above? In the late 1800's, W.O. Atwater established Atwater Factors (3.75kcals/g for digestible Carbohydrates, 4kcals/g for Proteins, 5kcals/g for Ketones, 7kcals/g for Alcohols & 9kcals/g for Fats*) using Human Calorimeters, not Bomb Calorimeters. Atwater Factors are pretty accurate.

*Fats containing different fatty acids have slightly different kcals/g. Fats containing long-chain fatty acids are 9kcals/g. Fats containing medium-chain fatty acids e.g. coconut oil are ~8kcals/g.

For more information, see Calories ...

2) Calories don't count because Dietary Efficiency varies for different macronutrients.

Uh, nope! The Heat Power generated by the body is regulated by a NFB loop involving the Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Thyroid Axis, also Uncoupling Proteins (UCP's), also shivering, so as to maintain a body temperature of 37°C ±3°C. If this wasn't the case, different amounts & types of foods (also, changes in ambient temperature & clothing) would cause large variations in body temperature resulting in death, as the enzymes in our bodies function correctly over a limited range of temperatures.

Heat Power generated by the body (W) = Temperature difference between the body & ambient (°C) divided by Thermal resistance between the body & ambient (°C/W)

∴ Dietary Efficiency is irrelevant.

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