One of the biggest myths in our modern society is about counting calories. Everyone knows something about calories. There is no point even asking people about calories and what it is, because it’s obvious. Everyone knows that calories are the amount of energy in food and if you want to lose weight, you just need to burn more calories than your daily intake, you dummy. As if! It’s a fairytale.
The most amazing revelation of the year or more like this decade is this – a calorie in is not a calorie out! What? But even NHS website suggests that if you eat less and exercise more, then you will lose weight. All I can say is that the magic fairy who is in charge behind the counting calories theory is telling you lies.
Myth No. 1: You can’t burn it all off
There is no way you can burn off your the calories supplied by our current food supply. A typical chocolate chip cookie has the equivalent of calories of jogging of jogging. A very tempting Bic Mac would require 4 hours of biking, and one slice of scrumptious Domino’s pizza will take you just 45 minutes of swimming. If this mantra of burning calories worked, then every single diet pill will work. But they don’t. Let’s just do some basic maths. To burn off 500 calories, you will need to spend an hour of high intensity exercise in the gym. At the end of that hour, unless you a pro gym rat, you will be half dead. Yet it only burnt 2.5 slices of Domino’s pizza (basic maths Captain suggests that one slice is approximately 198 calories)! Wikipedia suggests that Domino’s revenue last year was almost $300 million in the years of 2012/2013, which means that those Domino’s trips aren’t that rare. Hence my point stands, your attempt of burning all those calories will just never materialise.
You might lose some weight at the very beginning, when your poor little brain is oblivious to your malicious plan to fool it. But then, before you know it, you reach a plateau and those number on your scale suddenly stopped moving. Traitors?! Suddenly, counting calories makes no sense, because your brain is smarter than your body is. Your brain will just decrease the energy expenditure to meet the decreased energy intake, i.e. it will slow down all the processes in your body it possibly can to meet the shortfall. The moral of the story is this – your calorie output is controlled by your body and it will depend on the quantity and, most importantly, the quality of the calories digested.
Myth No. 2: All fats, protein and carbs are the same
If a calorie was a calorie, then all fats would be the same, because they would each release 9.0 calories per gram when burned. But they are very different.((Dr. Lustig: “Fat Chance”, Fourth Estate, 2014 )) There are good fats, bad fats and ugly fats, i.e. polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats. Same with proteins and amino acids, which release 4.1 calories per gram when burned, yet we have high quality protein, e.g. egg protein, and low-quality protein, e.g. hamburger meat.
Finally, all carbohydrates should be the same, they also release 4.1 calories per gram of energy when burned, yet there are two classes of carbohydrate: starch and sugar. Starch is made of glucose only, which is not very sweet and which every cell in the body can use for energy. Although there are several other sugars, i.e. glucose, galactose, maltose and lactose, the ones that are of our main concern are the sweet sugars, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, which both contain the molecule fructose. Fructose is very sweet and is inevitably metabolised to fat.((I will talk about it in details in my later posts.))
Myth No. 3: We are eating too much of everything
The common modern misconception is to state that people are eating too much and too much of everything. This is not technically accurate, because the our protein intake remained relatively constant at 15% of total calories intake, intake of fat had declined from 40% to 30% due to ‘low-fat’ pandemic in the 1990s, but what about carbohydrates? Surprise! Carbohydrates intake had increased from 40% to 55%. What could it possible mean? Well, it has been proved ((http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/5/774.full)) that increased intake of corn syrup (i.e. our sweet and much loved fructose) paralleled the upward trend of diabetes type 2 prevalence. Coincidence?
Our fructose consumption of fructose has doubled in the past 30 years and has increased sixfold in the last century.((Dr.Lustig: “Fat Chance”, Fourth Estate, 2014))
Myth No. 4: Food and Drug Administration agencies have very strict rules
This myth deserves a separate post on its own and it will follow shortly. However, for the purpose of this article, I would like to point out that even though some rules are rather strict, e.g. drugs approval, when it comes to food it’s not that straight forward.
Food industry in the UK alone is worth about £174.5 billion in the year to April 2014. It’s a huge business machine and they will do everything they can to sell you things at a huge profit. The processed food is cheap, yet becomes even more profitable, if you make lots of cheap food with great shelf-life. How do you increase shelf-life? You add loads and loads of sugar. Remember that jam in your cupboard that lasts forever? You know the answer why.
To quote well-known characters from the Wolf of Wall Street:
Mark Hanna: The name of the game, moving the money from the client’s pocket to your pocket.
Jordan Belfort: But if you can make your clients money at the same time it’s advantageous to everyone, correct?
Mark Hanna: No.
Nobody is interested in giving you some advantage back. This is not how the game works.