The Myth of Calories-In, Calories-Out

“To say that blubber is acquired by alone arresting too abounding calories is like adage that the alone could cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party,” abstracted nutritionist Adelle Davis declared it in the 1950s.

The myth: Based on the science that a batter equals 3,500 calories, advocates of “calorie-in, calorie-out” advance that in adjustment to advance weight you have to bake the aforementioned bulk of calories you consume. In adjustment to lose a batter you have to actualize a arrears of about 3,500 calories.

Sounds alive if you attending at it carefully in agreement of math. But, it doesn’t add up. Think about this: Let’s say you consistently absorb 100 added calories a day — the agnate of just one babyish amber dent cookie, 14 almonds or 28 babyish carrots. By the end of one year you would accretion 12 pounds. Yes! 12 pounds! That would aswell beggarly the antipodal is true. Shed 100 calories a day and at the end of a year you would counterbalance 12 pounds less. Clearly, it’s not so simple. I am accommodating to bet that even the a lot of blatant calorie counters are “off” by advancement of 100 calories a day.

Let’s attending at the science of weight control. A Harvard Medical School abstraction appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrates that added amoroso and bargain fat in fact after-effects in a abundant abatement in the bulk of calories burned.

Participants in the abstraction had absent weight and agreed to chase low-fat, very-low-carb, and low-glycemic-index diets for a ages each. Even admitting they ate the aforementioned bulk of calories on anniversary of the three plans, all of the abstraction participants austere about 300 calories a day beneath on the low-fat bistro plan than they did the added plans.

“We’ve begin that, adverse to comestible dogma, all calories are not created equal,” says David Ludwig, who is aswell administrator of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Total calories austere plummeted by 300 calories on the low-fat diet compared to the low-carbohydrate diet, which would according the bulk of calories about austere in an hour of moderate-intensity concrete activity.”

Dieters are aswell accustomed with the abnormality of accident added weight the few weeks of a diet and again accident beneath and beneath anniversary consecutive anniversary admitting arresting and expending the aforementioned bulk of calories until hitting the alarming “plateau.” This is believed to represent a metabolic adjustment to anticipate starvation. Your physique slows down to conserve the bargain bulk of calories you’re eating.

There are added significant, accurate examples of why a calorie is not artlessly a calorie to our bodies:

Fiber reduces calorie absorption. Cilia is not captivated by the body. It aswell reduces appetite. A being who increases their circadian cilia assimilation will acceptable eat less. The calorie of a high-fiber aliment is not according to the calorie of a low-calorie, low-fiber food.

Protein reduces appetite. Protein slows the time it takes for aliment to move from your abdomen to your intestines, allowance you feel abounding longer. Additionally, protein builds and maintains beef mass, which utilizes calories. It aswell curbs your appetence by stabilizing claret glucose levels.

Timing of aliment affects calorie processing. In a abstraction beforehand this year in The International Journal of Obesity, advisers begin that participants who ate backward in the day absent decidedly beneath weight than those who ate beforehand in the day. Anniversary accumulation was accustomed a agnate diet, the aforementioned bulk of beddy-bye and agnate caloric intakes and expenditures. As quoted in The New York Times, “Weight accident strategies, the authors wrote, should focus not just on calories and nutrients, ‘but aswell the timing of food.'”

Refined carbohydrates rob your physique of ability and nutrition. Metabolism takes a behemothic hit from aesthetic carbohydrates – sugars and starches bare of their fiber, like white flour. The New York Times bloom columnist Jane Brody addendum that if Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston compared the furnishings of aesthetic carbohydrates with the furnishings of accomplished grains in both animals and people, “he begin that metabolism, which determines how abounding calories are acclimated at rest, slowed with the burning of aesthetic grains but backward the aforementioned afterwards burning of accomplished grains.”

Clearly it is time to allay the myth. A 100-calorie amber dent cookie is not the aforementioned at 100-calories account of babyish carrots. Next time you appointment a well-meaning acquaintance or professional, you will apperceive that the algebraic just doesn’t add up.


Brody, Jane. Still Counting Calories? Your Weight-Loss Plan May Be Outdated. The New York Times. July 18, 2011.

Mooney, Andrea. If A Calorie Is Not Just A Calorie. Harvard Gazette. June 27, 2012.

O’Connor, Anahad. Really? Timing Of Meals Affects Weight Loss. The New York Times. Feb. 4, 2013.