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"Take in fewer calories than you burn, put yourself in negative energy balance, lose weight,” says Braun, who has been studying exercise and weight loss for years."

Weight loss is not this simple - this kind of article enrages me. Everyone wants it to be an easy equation. Low carbohydrate/high fat diets are wildly successful despite not having to monitor calories. All calories are not created equal and simply eating less does not lead to long term weight loss, it leads to hunger.

I know many have talked about this idea on HN before, but in case you missed it, an excellent, eye-opening read is Gary Taubes' book, Good Calories Bad Calories - http://www.amazon.com/Good-Calories-Bad-Controversial-Scienc...




Yes, burning fat really is that simple. A lot of this gets muddied from other factors, such as how various diets affect body composition, water retention, and appetite (supposedly much of the success of low carb diets comes from increased protein intake, which reduces hunger), and weight is hardly the only aspect of health, but the basic energy in minus energy out equation is true for humans.

See http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/is-a-calorie-a-cal...


Yeah, the oversimplification sounds great, except it is a homeostatic mechanism, people extract and expend calories at different rates, and appetite responds differently to different foods. Energy in vs. energy out matters less if certain types of food aren't sating hunger effectively. First you say it "is that simple" then go on to say "except for..." and list exclusions.

Whenever I feel unsympathetic, I imagine trying to "breath less" for several years.


It is only that simple if you assume that all macronutrients are metabolized in exactly the same way which is not the case (example: fat does not stimulate insulin secretion, carbohydrates [for the most part] do, insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage). Treating the human body like a black box like that is vastly oversimplifying the biochemistry of the digestive process to our detriment.


> All calories are not created equal

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, or it wouldn't be called a calorie. Put less gasoline in your car, you will run out of gas sooner. Eat 0 calories? Better believe you are gonna loose weight. Eat less than you burn? You cannot NOT burn your reserves

> simply eating less does not lead to long term weight loss, it leads to hunger

And what's wrong with hunger? I personally feel if we tolerated a little hunger we'd be better off. So long as it's not the shooting knives of starvation, you can come to grips with it. I know I have.


>A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, or it wouldn't be called a calorie

A calorie in the form of serum glucose stimulates insulin secretion, which shifts the equilibrium of fatty acid transfer across fat cells walls by increasing the flow into the cell and reducing the flow out.

A calorie in the form of serum fatty acids does not stimulate the secretion of insulin.

Therefore, all calories are not the same. QED


So if I had identical twins and I fed twin 1 ONLY 500 calores of carbs per day, and I fed twin 2 ONLY 500 calores of protein per day, they are going to have markedly different outcomes? I highly doubt it.

I think the big difference between getting your calores from carbs vs fat and protein is that it is exceedingly EASY to consume vast quantities of carbs, whereas consuming the same amount of calories in the form of fat and protein would be much more expensive and satiating.


'A calorie' is a 'A calorie'. Don't confuse macronutrients and their functions on the human body with how much heat they give off when burned. Yes, a calorie is a calorie - a joule is a joule and a newton is a newton.

A carbohydrate is NOT a protein and neither of the two are fats. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are different. They even have, conveniently for discussion, different names! Guess what - they also have different uses and impacts on your body.

Semantics is important when you're discussing chemistry. I wish people would stop making this stupid argument.


This is important. In fact, it might be useful to note this definition explicitly.

A calorie is unit of heat... not a unit of nutrition.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie

You can say there are calories in wood, particularly in the context of combustion (though it's more common to talk about that sort of thing in terms or BTUs or joules).


Huge +1 for 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'. Read this and you'll change your bad eating habits immediately.

Exercise is very important, but body composition changes come from nutrition.

(After changing how I ate, I lost 70# in 6 months and have kept that same weight for 2 years, more info for the curious: http://emphaticsolutions.com/2009/01/12/clean-eating-how-I-m...)


I lost 70# in 6 months

How young were you when you had seventy pounds that you could afford to lose?


I was 30 years old, 6' 1" and weighed 250#. 6 months later I weighed 180#. After working out more I'm up to 185# with 9.9% body fat, which is a weight I've sustained now for 2 years.




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