Does Counting Calorie Matter in Weight Loss?

weightloss-calorie

If you ask random people on the street what the cause of weight gain is, everyone will tell you overeating Calorie is the reason for weight gain. The reigning belief of weight gain is merely eating more Calorie while spending less Calorie in return. Therefore, the way to lose weight is by undereating Calorie while spending more Calorie. This theory is called the Calorie-In vs Calorie-Out theory. But is it that simple? How much validity in the counting calorie theory anyway? The entire world seems to believe it, so it must be right, right? Read on while we will unpack this theory, look at it in more detail and ask the hard questions.

What is Calorie, exactly?

To put it simply, Calorie is a measurement unit, in a similar way of Gram and Meter. While Gram is a measurement unit of weight and Meter of length, Calorie is a measurement unit of energy derived from food consumption.

How does Caloric value is measured in food?

Have you ever wondered how do those people in white coat measure the caloric value of say… a stalk of Broccoli?

Enter the Bomb calorimeter (1). While the name sounds like something coming out of the Manhattan Project, it is basically an incinerator for food.

Food item (i.e. you stalk of Broccoli) is placed inside an enclosed crucible, then pressurised and burned up to 1000 degrees Celsius. The heat generated as a result of the burning is then measured. The heat level is then counted into a Caloric value.

Lets put aside counting calorie and bomb calorimeter, for now, we will revisit them later.

What is food, and why do we need it?

We can say that food is fuel for the body. This statement is correct.
We can also say that food is the building block for the body. This statement is also correct.
So which one is it? Is food fuel or a building block of the body?

The simple answer is BOTH. A part of the food we consumed becomes fuel/energy (calories) while the rest will become the building block for the body.

weightloss-image1-700x770
Food as building material for new cells and fuel for energy

Think about this. Every cell in our body has a shelf-life. A cell will mature, grows old and dies. Then a brand new cell needs to be created to replace the old one. At every second of our lives, our body is in a constant state of regeneration.

Consider this organ regeneration rates (2):

  • Hair – every day, 100 strands fall out new ones grow in their place.
  • Fingernail – every 6 months we grow a full length of fingernails
  • Skin – every month, we grow a full set of skin.
  • Blood – every 4 months, we replace the whole blood in the body.
  • Liver – every 12 months, we replace the entire liver.
  • Skeleton – every 10 years, we get a brand new skeletal structure.
  • Muscles – every 15 years, we get an entirely new muscle system.
  • 100 million cells in our body died, and new ones are born.

Where do these building materials for new cells come from? Yes… from your food.

Which brings us to the most crucial understanding of food and the flaw in caloric theory:
Not everything we consume becomes energy (calories)!

Why does this matter?

Remember how food caloric value is measured? Remember our friend Bomb calorimeter?

When you burn food matter, nearly 100% of the food becomes heat energy in a similar way as throwing a log of wood into the fire. The carb, fat and protein, everything is burnt.

To put it simply, the calorie counting theory of food pretends as if the human body turns 100% of food into Calorie, much like the Bomb calorimeter. Or a car, where 100% of the fuel becomes energy. It does not take into account that a portion of that food may never become Calories at all.

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The conventional wisdom of Calories

In order words, we cannot compare the Bomb calorimeter that only burns food into energy with the human digestive system which utilises food for both building block and energy.

Consider this example: Suppose a piece of quarter-pound steak measured at 500 calories by the Bomb calorimeter, does our body produces 500 calories upon ingesting that piece of steak? The answer is no.

That is because the human body does not process food the same way as Bomb calorimeter. We certainly do not “burn” food to 1000 degrees to a crisp. But instead, the human digestion process food by chemical reactions which separates the Macronutrients (Protein, Fats and Carbohydrate) and processes each one in a different way. Additionally, each Macronutrient has a different purpose in the body.

For instance, our body will utilise the protein in that piece of steak to rebuild the muscles. The fat will go into hormone productions while carbohydrate will be converted into energy (calories).

weightloss-image3-700x770
Not all food becomes energy (calories)

In the interest of time, the diagram above is a simplified version of how our body utilises nutrients from food.

The functions of amino acids and fatty acids are to build new cells as well as to power various internal processes such as organ repairs, hormone productions, enzymatic processes, and many more. Whereas, the main function of Glucose is for energy. Consequently, the process of fat substance creation, lipogenesis (3) is primarily a result of the metabolic process of excess Glucose.

In conclusion

There is so much more that is left unsaid about the science of weight loss. This article has barely scratched the surface. There are a host of other factors at play, such as the role of the gut microbiome, Randle cycle, ketosis, stress, thyroid function and many others.

The point that I like to drive home is, there is so much more to weight loss than simply calorie counting number crunching. Although Calorie plays a part in weight loss, it is just one factor among many. Instead of hyper-focusing on how much you eat, more importantly, focus on what you eat.

I always joked, if weight loss is simply just a numbers game, there would not be a fat accountant.

If you have some stubborn weight which you cannot get rid off, consider consulting with a naturopath. There may be unforeseen factors that block the weight loss process.

If you are struggling with your weight, contact our Naturopath Bernard Chu at 0412 723 823 or email bernard@greenheartnaturalhealth.com.au for an obligation free discussion about your health challenges.

Online consultation is also available for your convenience.

 

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weightloss-calorie

The reigning belief of weight gain is over-eating Calorie while under-spending Calorie in return. But how much validity to this Calorie-In Calorie-Out theory?

What is Calorie, exactly?

To put it simply, Calorie is a measurement unit of energy derived from food consumption.

How does Caloric value is measured in food?

Have you ever wondered how do people in the white coats measure the caloric value of say… a stalk of Broccoli?

Enter the Bomb calorimeter. While the name sounds like something coming out of the Manhattan Project, it is basically an incinerator for food.

Food item (i.e. you stalk of Broccoli) is placed inside an enclosed crucible, then pressurised and burned up to 1000 degrees Celsius. The heat generated as a result of the burning is then measured. This heat measurement is then translated into a Caloric value.

The human body does not use food solely for energy, but it also acquires the bodybuilding materials from the food too.

weightloss-image1

Every second our body is in a constant state of regeneration. It is estimated that 100 million cells in our body died, and new ones are born each day. To create new cells, the body relies on food for the building materials.

Which brings us to the most crucial understanding of food and the flaw in caloric theory:
Not everything we consume becomes energy (calories)!

Why does this matter?

When you burn food matter, nearly 100% of the food becomes heat energy in a similar way as throwing a log of wood into the fire. The carb, fat and protein, everything is burnt. To put it simply, the Caloric theory of food pretends as if the human body turns 100% of food into Calorie, much like the Bomb calorimeter.

weightloss-image2

Consider this example: Suppose a piece of quarter-pound steak measured at 500 calories by the Bomb calorimeter, does our body produces 500 calories upon ingesting that piece of steak? The answer is no.

That is because the human body does not process food the same way as Bomb calorimeter. We certainly do not “burn” food to 1000 degrees to a crisp. But instead, the human digestion process food by chemical reactions which separates the Macronutrients (Protein, Fats and Carbohydrate) and processes each one in a different way.

weightloss-image3

The functions of amino acids and fatty acids are to build new cells as well as to power various internal processes such as organ repairs, hormone productions, enzymatic processes, and many more. Whereas, the main function of Glucose is for energy. Consequently, the process of fat substance creation inside the body, lipogenesis is primarily a result of the metabolic process of excess Glucose.

In conclusion

The point that I like to drive home is, there is so much more to weight loss than simply caloric number crunching. Although Calorie plays a part in weight loss, it is just one factor among many. Instead of hyper-focusing on how much you eat, more importantly, focus on what you eat.

I always joked, if weight loss is simply just a numbers game, there will not be fat accountants.

If you are struggling with your weight, contact our Naturopath Bernard Chu at 0412 723 823 or email bernard@greenheartnaturalhealth.com.au for an obligation free discussion about your health challenges.

Online consultation is also available for your convenience.