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Thread: 'good' vs. 'bad' calories

  1. #1 'good' vs. 'bad' calories 
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    I've always been taught that the formula for how much weight one gains/loses is very simple: calories in - calories out = weight gained (not in so many words of course). But then I hear of 'good' calories and 'bad' calories - or - calories that are easy to burn vs. those that are hard.

    If I were on a weight loss routine - reducing calories in through diet and increasing calories out through exercise - why would I need to worry whether the calories I'm taking in are 'good' or 'bad'? If it's as simple as calories in - calories out then does it matter whether the calories in part is mostly 'good' calories or 'bad'?

    So I guess the question is: if I've got the formula right (calories in - calories out = weight gained), then how does the type of calories ('good' vs. 'bad') affect that formula?


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  3. #2  
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    You are probably referring to a book by Gary Taubes called "Good Calories Bad Calories." This book is quite controversial, and is basically anti-carbohydrate.

    I believe you are correct that it doesn't make any difference to weight loss. There was a study on that last year, I believe, that showed no difference in the long term between weight loss on low carbohydrate and high carbohydrate diets.


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  4. #3  
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    A calorie is a calorie, and it's true that how much weight you lose or gain depends on the number of calories consumed and the number of calories burned.
    Of course some people have claimed that eating certain calories will either make you more full and therefore eat less, or that it will help you burn more calories, but I don't know that there is any evidence for the latter. The former is a bit less controversial and I am pretty sure there are studies that eating certain foods makes people feel more full and less inclined to eat more.
    But where those calories come from is important in other ways. For example, eating calories from saturated fat or calories from unsaturated fats won't change your weight, but most nutritionalists will tell you that eating unsaturated fats are much better for you (particularly for your circulatory system).
    If you are looking to lose weight, I suggest eating lots of vegetables, which will fill you up but give you few calories. That and excercise.
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  5. #4  
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    Thanks both,

    Since we're on the subject, I'll ask a few more questions:

    1) is it true that certain kinds of calories (ex. hard to burn calories like those in fats and oils) might make you feel less energetic, more fatigued/lethargic, and therefore inclined to burn less energy throughout the day (which would decrease the calories out part of the formula)?

    2) If certain calories are harder to burn than others, does that imply that it takes the body more energy to burn them, thereby using up more energy in the process? Therefore, if one was on a weight loss routine, wouldn't it make more sense to consume the hard-to-burn calories and make the body do more work (on top of exercising) in burning them?
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  6. #5  
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    I believe you may be interested to read about glyceamic index.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycemic_index

    Recent animal research provides compelling evidence that high GI carbohydrate is associated with increased risk of obesity. In human trials, it is typically difficult to separate the effects from GI and other potentially confounding factors such as fiber content, palatability, and compliance. In one study,[14] male rats were split into high and low GI groups over 18 weeks while mean body weight was maintained. Rats fed the high GI diet were 71% fatter and had 8% less lean body mass than the low GI group. Postmeal glycemia and insulin levels were significantly higher and plasma triglycerides were threefold greater in the high GI fed rats. Furthermore, pancreatic islet cells suffered "severely disorganised architecture and extensive fibrosis." However, the GI of these diets was not experimentally determined. Because high amylose cornstarch (the major component of the assumed low GI diet) contains large amounts of resistant starch, which is not digested and absorbed as glucose, the lower glycemic response and possibly the beneficial effects can be attributed to lower energy density and fermentation products of the resistant starch, rather than the GI. It is therefore crucial not to confound between low GI diets, which have been appropriately tested using the approved GI methodology, and low glycemic diets, which elicit low glycemic response not necessarily because they have a low GI.
    Pawlak et al. (2004). "Effects of dietary glycaemic index on adiposity, glucose homoeostasis, and plasma lipids in animals." Lancet;28364(9436):778-85
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  7. #6  
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    Here's an article that disputes the idea that calories are equal.
    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/9
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Here's an article that disputes the idea that calories are equal.
    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/9
    Thanks Harold, this was a very interesting paper. The basic point appeared to be that the calories in protein can't be extracted as efficiently as those in fats or carbohydrates, so you end up with fewer "usable calories" when you eat 100 calories of protein than if you eat 100 calories of sugar.
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  9. #8  
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    Correct. It's called Thermal Effect of Feeding (TEF). Here is a pretty good article on the subject of the energy balance equation, by Lyle McDonald.
    http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat...-equation.html
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Here's an article that disputes the idea that calories are equal.
    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/9
    Thanks Harold, this was a very interesting paper. The basic point appeared to be that the calories in protein can't be extracted as efficiently as those in fats or carbohydrates, so you end up with fewer "usable calories" when you eat 100 calories of protein than if you eat 100 calories of sugar.
    So what happens to the unused calories? Do they just pass through your system or do they get stored in fat?
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gib65
    So what happens to the unused calories? Do they just pass through your system or do they get stored in fat?
    They are apparently wasted as heat by the body's inefficient metabolic pathways.
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