Do Calories Matter?

- POSTED ON: Dec 19, 2012

I count calories. I read food labels, and I weigh and measure my food. My calorie counting method is to record all of food in a computer food journal, which provides me with nutritional values for that food, and does the daily calorie math for me. The food journal that I use, DietPower, has an enormous food dictionary, and it also allows me to input food information from the labels of the food I actually use.

However, all of this carefully calculated calorie number is only an estimate.

We cannot be exactly certain of the amount of calories contained in the food we eat. This is partially because of labeling inaccuracies, partially because of measuring inaccuracies, and partially because of other things affecting calories, such as the the fact that even two pieces of the same fruit which are exactly the same size, can have small calorie differences due to the fruit’s ripeness etc.

Calories In:
      The amount of calories going into a body are estimates, 
Calories Out: 
       How many calories a body burns once those foods are inside that body is also an estimate.

It is an undisputed fact that different bodies burn different amounts of calories. All of the charts and graphs and formulas for BMR and RMR, are merely based on AVERAGES. Different people, even those who are the same sex, the same age and the same size, with similar activity levels, will burn calories at a lower level or a higher level than the BMR and RMR average calculations which these formulas provide.

We cannot exactly KNOW how many calories we are taking in, or how many calories our bodies are using. However, even though this information is inaccurate, It provides us with useful Guidelines, which makes it well worth the effort. Calorie Counting has helped me achieve a large weight-loss, and it is helping me to maintain that weight-loss.

Many long-term, Low-Carb people seem to be coming around to an understanding that Calorie Intake matters. Although the Low-carb position continues to be “that it’s not a simple matter of calories in, calories out”, many long-term low-carb “experts” are now speaking out in support of the fact that calories do matter -- in that calories have a strong influence within a carbohydrate restricted context, and that low-carb eating is not a license for eating large and unlimited amounts of food.

This is based on the position that although “a calorie is a calorie” going into the body, calories are handled differently within a body, “downstream”, and while the basic process is the same for everyone, not all bodies handle the same number of calories in exactly the same way.

Regina Wilshire of Weight of the Evidence Blog, who defines herself as “Low-Carb Health Examiner”, states this position in the following way.

“while those who initially follow a low-carb diet do not need to count calories, calories do count - in context. The context is physiology, the chemistry within our metabolism which is driven by our endocrine system. It isn't simply a math problem to calculate input of calories and output of energy expenditure - it requires actual nutrients within the context of those calories because a calorie is not a calorie in our body - a sugar calorie acts differently in our body than a fat calorie. Context.”

I recently ran across a video about calories by Barry Groves, Oxford, United Kingdom, who holds himself out as a Nutritional author, lecturer and journalist; with a doctorate in nutrional science.

Dr. Groves is a well-known low-carb guy, and the author of books: Natural Health & Weight Loss (2007) and Trick or Treat (2008), and he blogs at Second Opinion. I’ve purchased and read both his books, as well as his blog, and found them interesting and informative with regard to providing support for the Theory that a low-carb diet should be high-fat, and not high protein.

I find this video posted below, “Why You Can’t Count Calories”, to be an interesting analysis of the calorie counting process.
A Note of Caution about inaccurate statements within this video about Protein calories and Protein requirements. People have a maximum and a minimum requirement for Protein. The official protein requirement is between 0.8 and 1.2 grams per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of Ideal Body Weight.  Very few people have a 300 lb ideal body weight ... but if someone does, their protein requirement would be around 110 to 135 grams of protein daily.  A generally accepted explanation regarding excess protein (and fat) is set forth below.

"So, what happens if you consume too many calories and/or too much protein? Basically, when energy sources are high, both glucogenic and ketogenic amino acids are converted to fatty acids through the intermediate acetyl CoA. Other amino acids that are degraded to intermediates in the Krebs Cycle are siphoned off into the production of urea, a nitrogenous carboxyl compound that is filtered through the kidneys and secreted in the urine.

Put another way, you now have fatty acids that can store as body fat.

It is for this reason one should not consider a low-carb diet as an all-you-can-eat buffet, just hold the carbs. Whether you're new to carbohydrate restriction, or a long-term veteran, you need to know how much protein you need at minimum, and also understand where the maximum is for weight loss and weight maintenance." ....... Regina Wilshire, Weight of the Evidence Blog.

Leave me a comment.

Please Login to comment on this blog.

Existing Comments:

On Dec 19, 2012 jethro wrote:
Dr. Collins, the question is what does Barry Groves propose in lieu of calorie counting?

On Dec 19, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Dr Grove recommends eating specific percentages of micconutrients. Without looking into his book, my recollection is that he recommends about 10% carb, 20% protein, and 70% fat. When I experimented with his diet, I found his plan self-limiting, and was only able to eat about 1000 calories daily while successfully keeping carbs and protein that low. I found it difficult, and somewhat barfcity, to ingest that much fat...without more carbs or even more protein to form tasty combinations.

On Dec 19, 2012 jethro wrote:
Dr. Collins, don't you think that even if you stayed strictly at those percentages, you could still gain weight if you consumed, for example, 5,000 calories per day? If the answer is yes, I'll have to say that calories still count.

On Dec 19, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Yes Jethro, that is certainly my own opinion. I am one of those people who feel certain that calories do count, no matter what micronutrients are in one's food plan. *** From my own experience and what I've seen of the experiences of others, I think that there might be a SLIGHT metabolic advantage for those people who eat low-carb, but this would be a very small percentage, not more than maybe 50 calories out of every 1,000 or so, probably never more than 300 a day even for very large, active people. *** Actually, eating ONLY the amount of one's protein requirement ... and then making certain that protein is no more than 20% of one's food intake, AND then taking in no more than 10% carbs, naturally limits the calories of food intake, unless a person can manage to enjoy chowing down on plain cubes of solid butter, or drinking massive amounts of pure fats such as coconut oil. Tolerance for the amount of fat that most people can ingest is limited, when that fat is not combined with carbs and/or protein.

<< Previous Blog
Search Blogs
DietHobby is a Digital Scrapbook of my personal experience in weight-loss-and-maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all. Every diet works for Someone, but no diet works for Everyone.
- View 2021
- View 2020
- View 2019
- View 2018
- View 2017
- View 2016
- View 2015
- View 2014
- View 2013
- View 2012
- View 2011

Mar 01, 2021
DietHobby: A Digital Scrapbook.
2000+ Blogs and 500+ Videos in DietHobby reflect my personal experience in weight-loss and maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all, and I address many ways-of-eating whenever they become interesting or applicable to me.

Jun 01, 2020
DietHobby is my Personal Blog Website.
DietHobby sells nothing; posts no advertisements; accepts no contributions. It does not recommend or endorse any specific diets, ways-of-eating, lifestyles, supplements, foods, products, activities, or memberships.

May 01, 2017
DietHobby is Mobile-Friendly.
Technical changes! It is now easier to view DietHobby on iPhones and other mobile devices.