Do calories really matter?

Francis Benedict in 1917 wrote a 400 page report called Human Vitality and efficiency under prolonged restricted diet based off his hopes that a calorie restricted diet could be adopted and men could in fact thrive on the lower calorie and nutrients intake.  12 men were put on a 1,400 to 2,100 restricted calorie diet, notice how high these numbers are in comparison to what we currently consider a restricted calorie diet.   The goal was to lower body weight by 10% in 1 month.  His subjects lost the weight but they complained of constant hunger, a continuous gnawing sensation in the stomach, cold to the extent  that several found almost impossible to keep warm, even with an excessive amount of clothing.  They also experienced a 30% decrease in metabolism.  When the subjects consumed more calories then was allowed they would gain the weight they lost.  They also experience a decreased blood pressure and pulse, suffered from anemia, had the inability to concentrate and had weakness during physical activity, decreases sexual interest and expression.  Once the men were allowed to eat again even if told to avoid overindulgence they all over ate in particular the craving for sweets.  All men gained back the lost weight and added on an average of 8 extra pounds.  

The study was repeated in 1944 by Ancel Keys.  He used 32 young men restricted to 1,570 calories a day. The subjects lost significant fat and weight and experienced all the symptoms of the original study plus some people experience bouts of suicidal thoughts, bordered on psychosis, were more violent, loss of willpower, periods of crying.  And once food was reintroduced they overindulged, gained back their lost weight plus 5% more weight and 50% more body fat. They often complained of always being hungry even though they were consuming on average 8,000 calories a day. 

We can see from just these two studys the negative effects calorie restricted diet has on metabolism, endocrine function and our neurological state.  Adding exercise to a calorie restricted diet only adds to the damage.  These studys also show that calorie restricted diets are not sustainable and lead to increased weight gain in the long run.  They also show us that they create a famine state and feast state in the mind.  When in feast, eat as much as possible for famine is sure to come again.

Is it more about the quality of your calorie?

In the Eat Well Program you will be asked to eat a high healthy fat, moderate quality protein, low toxin diet.  Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are no longer hungry.  Humans when listening to their needs just as rats, will adjust their food intake in response to caloric content (the nutrients in the food), not volume, mass or even taste of food. They will continue to eat to reach their nutrient needs.  When you remove toxic foods (toxic foods, carbs, grains, beans) and increase our healthy nutrient dense foods you feed the body and the body is more able to balance hormones thus balance energy (fat) storage.  Insulin is released in response to carbohydrates and to an extent protein.  When insulin is circulating in the system it acts like a guard outside the fat cells door, keeping the fat locked away.  If you reduce carbohydrates you reduce the insulin circulating in the blood.  When insulin is not there the guards are no longer standing outside the fat cell telling the fat to stay put.  The fat cell is now open and fat can be used as energy.  Insulin is just one of hormones that regulates fat storage.  Let's explore this a little more.  Gary Tabues states it perfectly, "We don’t get fat because we overeat, we overeat because we get fat". Hormones, enzymes and growth factors regulate our fat tissue, just as they do everything else in the body.  Because of this we do not get fat because we overeat; we get fat because of foods that manipulate these hormones, make us fat.  If we eat a diet that is more or less toxic it disrupts the hormone balance.  What can happen do to this is, when you eat, the hormones direct more fat to be stored making the others cells “semi-starved”.  All cells are looking for minerals and vitamins along with protein, fats and glucose from carbohydrates to function.  When they don't get this the body increasing your appetite to get the nutrient needs for cells.  This will then decrease your metabolism and your desire to be active because the body is wanting conserve energy since it is energy deprived (remember the cells are starved because they have no nutrients).   So you don’t get fat because you overeat/ you overeat because you get fat.  Another way to look at this is by saying, "you don’t get fat because your metabolism slows; your metabolism slows because you’re getting fat".  Our muscles become insulin resistant due to high carb/glucose intake for many years, this partitions more of the energy we consume into fat, leaving less available for the cells of muscles and organs to use for fuel. These cells now generate less energy, and this is what we mean when we say that our metabolism slows down.  We get fat and our metabolism slows because there is not enough energy for the muscles.   

So what happens when you eat nutrient dense foods that are high in calories?  Ideally you have a hormone system that is communicating and supported by all the nutrients it needs to function optimally.  You eat a high calorie nutrient-dense diet, your cells are fed the nutrients it needs and instead of storing the excess calories as fat your body increases your metabolism.  The increase in metabolism could look like a higher body temperature, more sweat, the desire to workout, more energy and other "energizing" symptoms.  The body will burn off what it does not need, rather then feed fat cells.  Now there are some camps that think a high calorie diet whether it is nutrient-dense or not can be hard on the body.  They believe that a calorie-reduced, but nutrient-dense diet is better for you.  I believe that the more varied our diet, the more adaptable we are thus making us more super human.  If you eat a calorie heavy diet one day, eat a low calorie diet the next, eat a large dose of protein one day and little the next, eat lots of carbs one day and little the next...do you get the picture...the more super human we will be.  The more variety in our diet and environment the better we teach our body to adapt to any environment and any situation.  Make sense?  

So what can you do?  Follow the Eat Well Program! By doing this you feed your cells nutrient-dense food, thus creating a healthy, communicative hormone system and in the end a healthy weight and super human body.    

Information taken from Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat and other random followings.