Misconception about Counting Calories and Weight Management
(First time published in 2005 – Last time edited in 22/4/2013
The official scientific explanation about the weight gain of fat mass is based on the belief that unused calories are stored in the body as fat mass in fat tissue for later use.
Until recently, all scientists involved in the research, prevention and treatment of obesity have believed that obesity can be prevented, effectively treated and cured simply by eating less and exercising more. At those times, the theory “calories in – calories out” was an unquestioned scientific dogma.
Weight loss treatments involving dieting, increased physical activity, diet pills and weight loss -bariatric surgeries were invented when obesity scientists believed that every single calorie in food intake, if not spent, will be converted into fat mass and stored in fat tissue. This belief was in line with the anabolism and catabolism theory.
It is embarrassing as it is unbelievable that for nearly a century long, generations of people involved in the research, treatment and prevention of obesity didn’t know that a significant amount of energy from food intake leaves the body as metabolic waste. In other words, they do not know that the human body excretes calories.
Until 2005, people involved in the research, treatment and prevention of obesity did not know that metabolic waste contains calories.
Many people involved in the research, treatment and prevention of obesity have made a fortune, garnered a reputation and lucrative career without knowing that a significant percentage of energy from food intake leaves the body as metabolic waste. Since 2008, many of them edit their web pages in an attempt to hide their misconceptions from the public.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
PRESS RELEASE - 17 March 2003
100 calories a day enough to stop obesity epidemic in its tracks, advises US nutritionist
It only takes a few small lifestyle changes to achieve this. Anyone pursuing an activity which burns 100 calories a day - say a 15 or 20 minute walk - or reducing their daily intake of food by just 100 calories would be able to head off the steady weight gain which is responsible for much of the adult obesity are seeing today.
The New York Times
By JANE E. BRODY
Published: Tuesday, February 4, 1992
“Why the Body May Waste the Calories From Alcohol”
HE so-called Drinking Man's Diet, a treacherous scheme popular in the 1960's that suggested substituting alcohol for sugars and starches to shed unwanted pounds, was based on the puzzling observation that heavy drinkers and alcoholics often lose weight despite intakes of a thousand or more extra alcohol calories each day.
This observation baffled nutritionists, who long believed that every calorie that entered the stomach could eventually turn itself into fat. Alcohol researchers, too, wondered how so many alcohol calories could be wasted by the metabolic system, which millions of Americans knew to be highly efficient at storing extra calories as fat. (This is Google's cache of http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DZ3vNTskbEIJ:www.nytimes.com/1992/02/04/health/why-the-body-may-waste-the-calories-from-alcohol.html%3Fpagewanted%3Dall%26src%3Dpm+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=u
It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 5 Sep 2012 22:48:11 GMT. The current page could have changed in the meantime.)
Now Dr. Charles S. Lieber, a New York physician who has been plumbing the depths of alcohol's many mysteries since 1957, has come up with a biochemical mechanism that he says largely accounts for the remarkable wastage of alcohol calories in heavy drinkers. Dr. Lieber published his findings in the current issue of The Journal of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition under the title, "Perspectives: Do Alcohol Calories Count?" http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/54/6/976
“Almost to a man, the world's top nutrition and obesity authorities believe that weight control necessitates a balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure.”
However, that article went unnoticed by almost everyone.
The “Super Size Me” documentary did not put any light about the causes of the obesity epidemic, but it is a documentary about the recent past when obesity researchers, medical practitioners, etc., did not know that metabolic waste contains calories.
“A Swedish university has replicated Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me junk food binge under lab conditions.”(Marten Blomkvist
The Guardian, Thursday 7 September 2006)
”Indeed, Nyström claims that for some people, eating 10% more will lead to their metabolism increasing at the same level. The extra energy will be burned off as body heat during sleep. "If that was not the case we would all have to keep track of every last calorie," he says.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,,1866485,00.html
They think that they track every calorie but they did not know that some energy in food intake leaves the body as metabolic waste, which could be the only reason for the conclusion that the extra energy will be burned as body heat during sleep.
“In the 1980s, people did not understand why obese people put on weight. Professor (Dr at the time) Andrew Prentice, at the MRC Dunn Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, worked with Dr Andy Coward to develop the ‘doubly-labelled water method’. This measures how much energy a person expends, using a harmless tracer that tracks the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the body as a by-product of energy generation.”
“Professor Prentice found that obese people had a higher metabolic rate than their lean counterparts, reflecting their larger body size – dispelling the myth that their obesity was caused by a metabolic or behavioural defect that resulted in reduced energy expenditure1. The team demonstrated that reports of low energy intake were spurious and obese people were eating more calories than previously thought.”
The headline from 1995 “Eating too much makes you fat – official” has strengthened the wrong attitude towards obese people.
Eating too much makes you fat - official
Metabolism is bunk: Hester Lacey meets the scientists who can prove it
Sunday, 22 January 1995
Fidgeting theory is further evidence that obesity researchers did not know that the human body excrete “calories” (they didn’t know that metabolic waste contains calories).
“Using sophisticated techniques, they were able to precisely measure the fate of the additional 1,000 calories in each subject. Overall, they found the following:
Fate of Extra 1,000 Calories:
Deposited as fat: 39%
Deposited as other body tissue: 4%
Burned by BMR: 8%
Postprandial thermogenesis: 14%
Burned by NEAT: 33%
The 16 volunteers gained an average of 10 pounds during the two months of the study. However, weight gain varied from two pounds to almost 16 pounds. Those with the greatest increase in NEAT (maximum number of calories burned per day: 692) gained the least amount of fat.
The moral of the story is:
If you want to avoid extra body fat, move around like a little child with ants in his/her pants. Constant fidgeting could be the secret to weight loss revealed by top medical researchers.”
COPYRIGHT 1999 Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group
Despite the fact that there are no more theories like fidgeting, the official scientific explanation of fat gain/loss is unchanged.
a) The scientific explanation about weight loss is that the body burns calories, which is just another misconception in the basic science of biology.
b) The scientific explanation about weight gain of the fat mass is based on the belief that unused calories are stored in the body as fat mass in fat tissues for later use.
When some of the worlds’ most renowned scientists on obesity have realized that the human body excretes calories, some of them quickly come to the conclusion to interfere with excretion as a method for weight loss. Mal-absorptive weight loss surgeries and weight loss drags that alter digestion are examples of interfering with excretion.
Until recently, the world’s most renowned scientists on obesity, including the rest of the people involved in the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity did not know that human body excretes calories and nowadays they do not know that “any interference with excreting in the attempt to regulate the body weight should be treated as insanity”.
It seems that the recently published (recently added or edited) on Wikipedia about the “Atwater system” and Metabolisable Energy (ME) (Up to the date of 17 August 2010) is an attempt to mislead people that the medical establishment knows that some amount of food intake leaves the body as metabolic waste.
The content on Wikipedia about “Atwater system” is not worthy of discussion, because (to my knowledge) no medical journal, scientific papers etc. related to obesity research has mentioned that, also it has not mentioned the energy lost in faeces, urine, secretions and gases.
The other point is that any medical doctor, obesity researcher, university professor of biology, etc. did not ever say that they were estimating the energy lost in faeces, urine, secretions and gases by using the Atwater System.
On the same page at Wikipedia, there is a sentence about Metabolisable Energy (ME) Available energy (as used by Atwater) is equivalent to the modern usage of the term Metabolisable Energy (ME). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atwater_system
If you click on that link you will get an answer: Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name “Metabolisable Energy” (up to the date of 17 August 2010). It seems that the author/authors of those pages on Wikipedia do not know too much about the subject he/they are talking about.
To my knowledge, there is no original paper that shows that Wilbur Olin Atwater estimated the energy loss in faeces etc. I could be wrong, but a few years ago, I spent a lot of time researching everything related to the work of Wilbur Olin Atwater and could not find a single piece of evidence that he estimated the energy lost in faeces or urine.
In the end, whether Wilbur Olin Atwater has estimated or not, the energy in faeces urine, secretions and gases, there is plenty of evidence that until recently all research studies on obesity are done without estimating the amount of energy contained in metabolic waste.
When they have realised that a significant amount of food intake leaves the body as metabolic waste, they did not change their attitude towards people affected with obesity but continue to pursue “eat less and/or exercise more” along with pretending to have already known that the human body excretes calories.
The “counting calories” as a scientific method to understand and control the weight of the body was introduced at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century by Wilbur Olin Atwater and promoted by Dr Lulu Hans Peterson, and quickly was accepted as an unquestionable scientific truth by the medical establishment and the rest of the population.
First, there is nothing wrong with the method used to determine the number of calories in food. In reality, calories are just a measurement of the heat produced when food is burned in laboratories to dry powder ashes. In living organisms, this kind of process (burning) never happens, because the metabolic waste is not dry powder ashes and on the other side, some energy leaves the body before it is fully metabolised and some energy leaves the body after it is metabolised. “The counting calories” is a wrong method to determine how many calories will be fully metabolised.
For example; an intake of 3500kcl does not mean that 3500kcl is involved. The human body will take only a number of calories that it needs, and the rest will be discarded and excreted as metabolic waste.
The difference between the energy intakes and the energy discarded and excreted as metabolic waste is the amount of energy that is fully metabolised.
Even if we know how much energy is fully metabolised, we still cannot predict the exceeded number of calories that the body will use because some absorbed calories (metabolized food) body excretes through the skin and hair.
The present scientific understanding states that if we intake more energy than the body needs for basal metabolic rate plus energy spent through physical activity, the exceeded number of calories will be converted into fat mass and stored in fat tissue for later use.
The fact is that some available energy in food the body simply does not use but discards and excretes it as metabolic waste (mainly through the digestive and urinary systems).
Furthermore, the accepted dogma that weight gain of the fat mass is “simply a matter of balance” between the calories intake and calories burned out is supported by wrongly applying the Laws of Thermodynamics in the understanding of what happens with the energy in a living organism.
In practical terms, it is possible to apply the Laws of Thermodynamics (First and Second) only in a close system with no energy coming in and no energy going out (all energy that comes in and out is measurable). That is the case with any mechanical engine. In the case of the human body, some energy goes out (the energy that practically is not possible to measure).
This fact alone shows that it is pointless to apply the Law of Thermodynamics to explain the occurrences of weight gain/weight loss among humans or any other species. Applying the law of thermodynamics on humans does not explain anything concerning weight gain/weight loss.
Introducing counting calories as a method to understand weight gain/weight loss has the consequence that many people ranging from scientists involved in the research and treatment of obesity to ordinary people think that metabolic waste is calorie free. Because of that, it is accepted as an unquestionable scientific fact that the increase of food intake and/or decrease of physical activity is responsible for weight gain, and that the decrease in food intake and/or the increase of physical activity is responsible for weight loss. The entire science of obesity and the entire weight loss industry (diet and/or exercise, medications, WLS) is based on such a misconception that it has grave consequences for so many people.
This misconception is greatly responsible for an increase in obesity, especially in the last twenty-five years because without really understanding the biological basis of fat formation on the body, the human is not able to counteract obesity and it is not able to discover the real cause for the current epidemical proportions in the incidences of obesity and its severity.
From such an understanding came the theory of the cause for building fat tissues and it says; “unused calories intake by the body is stored as fat mass for later use”.
To support the theory of building fat tissue, which has already been accepted as an unquestionable scientific fact, comes the theory that because of genetic factors “different body’s burn energy at different speed”. To support the theory based on genetics (different body burns energy at different speed) came the “hunter/gathered gene” theory and many other theories.
Each new theory of fat formation is made up to support the credibility of already existing ones. Each new theory for the cause of obesity is made up to support the credibility of already existing ones.
Every new theory about the cause of obesity is hailed as a scientific break-through and quickly accepted as an unquestionable scientific fact, followed by an increase of obesity among all population groups.
Public health agencies, medical practitioners, and medical science researchers have to confront with the fact that the basic science of weight gain/weight loss is wrong.
The attitude towards obese people including obese children is born out of the fact that all the science of obesity is created without knowing that the human body excretes calories. It is embarrassing not only for scientists but also for ordinary people. For some of them it is so embarrassing that they pretend to have known already that the human body excretes calories.
Such an error is embarrassing not only for the scientific establishment, but it is also embarrassing for people with an average education. In the end, the obese and non-obese populations including obesity researchers, university professors of biology, etc. are the victims of bad science.