(Edit: a few people have taken objection to CICO. This is to clarify that when I call the concept invalid, am saying it in context of how people measure or understand it. AM NOT SAYING CICO IS INVALID. I understand energy balance (have a look my profile). I breathe calories and never needed an app or any other device to create calorie deficit in 100’s I have trained. This is how real world thinks about CICO and all am trying to do here is to discourage them to do it this way. It’s weird how scientist name it as CICO and expect people understand it thermodynamically.
We eat food. Measure it in calories. We burn fuel from food and we measure it in calories. Calories In…Calories Out. Period.
A calorie is just a measurement unit for energy just like we use litres for anything liquid. Example: two 5 litre jars – one full of water and the other full of milk. Now claiming that both weigh same is not WRONG. But looking at consumption of these two and claiming that they will be metabolically equal just because they are both 5 litres is wrong. Therefore, you may be having equivalent amount of calories in two separate meals (say 500 calories) but in one, you could be ingesting 30% protein and in the other it is 10%. How could we say that both meals, although 500 calories each, have same effect on the body? Can’t…right!! Remember we must also be looking into the biological impact of calories and not just amount when we talk calories.
Both the pictures used in this post display the two ends of the spectrum in my opinion. Interestingly both around 45 years of age which makes this transformation even more beautiful.
I have decided to break this submission into multiple parts because it will be little too much to digest via one post. So if you find what you read here useful then keep checking the space for next parts to understand sensitive subjects like diabetes, obesity, fitness, weight loss etc. and how our diet plays an important role in all this.
Some key points as highlighted in my last article (May 2020) 😦https://umeshchhikara.com/2020/05/31/diet-research-part-iii-case-study/)
- Calorie in and calorie out is not a phenomenon that can be measured accurately in my opinion. Take it as energy in energy out where we have multiple sources of burning energy and we can’t all accurately.
- Sugar (sucrose) – the sooner you decrease it, the better you live. Its not a sin either!
- Fruits are not a must if you don’t enjoy. Seasonal fruits are good. Treat them as calories and swap.
- Processed food compromises the food quality – case study below.
- Cooking oil – need basis! I am happy with saturated fat and it suits me fine. I shifted to polyunsaturated and I relished that as well. See what suits you.
- Insulin resistance is perhaps the most common while being the most ignored phenomenon in India and the rest of the world.
- Metabolic syndrome is responsible for several diseases like diabetes, cancer, dementia, high blood pressure, depression, obesity etc. etc. and these are treatable with proper nutrition.
- Poor metabolic health precedes obesity. Not always!!
- Every chronic disease is some amount of hyper proliferation/hyper growth/inflammation.
- Building metabolic flexibility (metabolic health) is perhaps the healthiest of all in my opinion. Switching over fuel source once a while can only benefit metabolism. It does seem that our microbiome enjoys diversity.
- A person doesn’t have to look sick to be sick from inside.
- Non alcoholic fatty liver can definitely be handled via diet
Submission Post 1: Nov 2020
Metabolic basal rate:
Our metabolic system adapts to a certain mileage in terms of how much food it can process depending on our food habits. This rate can go up and down on the basis of how much we have eaten. Also remember that we burn calories while processing whatever food we ingest.
Example: Assuming my body processes 2000 calories on an average. However, I ate 2500 calories on a day. Our metabolic machinery will adjust to this extra load and burn 2500. Similarly if we eat low…it would burn less but keep you going. This can go on for few days depending on your metabolism. It is only after this phase that one gains or lose weight and hence the reason why we don’t lose weight if we eat less on few days.
Calories IN and Calorie OUT:
I don’t think this applies in Indian context. Why? Because we can never measure the accurate number calories in a meal leave aside the burning which can happen in several ways. Even though we know the amount of calories in individual food substrates; we can never measure accurate amount of calories in our calorie rich food.
Reason: When we fry (tadka) our vegetable, dal’s, non-veg, or a desert; the density of the final ‘food’ would depend a lot on the oil you have used, its properties, ingredients, how we have fried it, the different spices, and possibly the amount of time we have cooked. All these variables can have significant impact on the: a) nutritional value of food, and b) its caloric density.
Analogy: cooked vegetables on a non-stick pan + butter &/or cheese (fat) added on top, will taste a lot lighter than the Indian vegetable curry with the same amount of butter. Also those of us who put ‘ghee’ on top in our daal understand how ghee makes it tastier without making it heavier – calorie dense. But we take the same daal and use the same amount of ghee for ‘tadka’ this time; it will become calorie dense and our stomach feels it
Also from our real life experiences we all can confirm that a lot of packaged food that we eat actually are not as heavy or light as the label tells.
Ques: And IF we are not sure about calorie density then how can we measure ‘Calories In’?
We have a big brain and depending on the kind of work, your metabolic machinery, etc. we would consume decent amount of calories in the functioning our brain. Add to that our body’s daily calorie expenditure, the type of food we have ingested, the thermic effect of food, the timing of the food etc. etc. etc., there are so many factors that may contribute to calorie in & thereafter, calorie out.
Submission: We should not look into ‘Calorie In & Calorie Out’ since we can not measure it appropriately.
Knowledge: ‘Calorie In & Calorie Out’ practically (food has chemical bonds which when broken produce chemical energy that later gets transferred into mechanical energy in the form of ATP) means energy in & energy out. We run on fuel we know as ‘food’. The amount and quality of fuel we eat would decide the average effort (energy out) we sustain. However this ideal scenario doesn’t exist as most of us are metabolically unhealthy.
Therefore,where the type of food and how much we eat is definitely in our control however, how much our body converts that into fuel depends on our metabolic health. Example: Type 1 diabetic people.
Ques: Then how do we know if we are eating right?
Ans: It could be easier for sportsmen who are not over weight, have active exercise routine, and eat nutritional food. Or say who pay extra attention to the subject. However for others who either don’t indulge in exercising or do very little like walking or exercise like weekend warriors; it is not possible to validate any diet because there could be so many factors driving your metabolic health.
So let us instead look into specific scenario’s which are common:
a) Scenario 1: NOT losing weight besides adding exercise to your routine and cutting short calories in your meals.
Solution: This straight away means what you are eating is not working for you regardless of the quality of food. You need to change.
b) Scenario 2: You lose weight but gain weight again as soon as you come out of a diet
Solution: This means that you have not repaired your metabolic machinery and it comes back to its notoriousness. So change to something that suits your kitchen & budget. Remember, in my opinion, it is important to change from your regular food (keeping intact all the nutrition) to repair(helps with microbiome diversity). Repair essentially is nothing but making both your fat & carbs engine work properly. This can be achieved via multiple ways as you would know from experts world over however this seems to have worked clearly across the spectrum in my studies.
In both the scenario’s the problem may not be how much you are eating. Instead it could be the food substrate you are eating which is not suiting your metabolism no more. Therefore counting Calories IN & Calories Out won’t solve your problems. Changing the diet would…..
Read next posts to understand how to change your existing diet without feeling starved and eating food that is available in your kitchen.
Lean muscle mass is the best measure to check nutrition in your food: