Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Calorie Hype: Making Money Off Your Ignorance

Let me start by saying this will be a rather short blog for its content.  I simply cannot fit all that I want to say into short of 1,000 words.  But I will try to convey what I need to in as little space as I can.

First thing is first, I don't discredit the thousands of scientists and doctors out there who have worked diligently to keep the population as healthy as possible, without jeopardizing beneficence or our Independence.  However, I must also say that I am rather shocked at the way Americans fell into this trap made intentionally by those who best profit off your lack of knowledge and blind gullibility.   

With this said, I want to make an imaginary scenario to illistrate the subject matter I am about to explain later in this blog.
Let us just say that in the mid 1820's, a well-noted scientist found that the perfect shoe size was a size 8.  Test after test revealed that the size 8 shoe was undeniably the perfect shoe size.
Then, in the late 1880's to early 1890's, the "American Podiatrist Medical Association,"  came out with guidelines which advised the general public of the proper shoe size to wear.   
By the mid 1940's, a team of scientists discovered that the perfect color for military men was white.    Manufacturers then make millions of size 8, white shoes.  The public throws out any other shoe, and orthopedic industry takes off.
By the 1970's, shoe laces are deemed too hazardous, and the Velcro shoe was born.
1980's separates male shoes from female shoes, differentiating size 8 males and size 8 for females. 
By the 1990's, ergonomics urges manufacturers to make only tennis shoes. 
Now the only shoe you can find is white, Velcro, size 8, tennis shoe.  Size 8 shoe becomes a science based social construct.  Kids are teased in schools, cliques are formed based on shoe size. Scientists try to come up with pharmaceuticals to shrink feet to a size 8.  Doctors and physicians urge the American public to become healthy by decreasing their shoe size to a size 8.    Products, such as creams, powders, gels, and elixirs flood the market, taking your hard earned money with empty promises.  Podiatry centers open up practically on every corner.  Doctors preform surgery on patients to remove toes or foot bones.  People start binding their children's feet to keep them from growing....You get the point. 

This might sound ridiculous.  What does it have to do with calories?
Calories, like shoes, are not a one size fits all.
Calories, are, by easiest definition, are the amount of energy it takes to heat 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.  In calculating food calories, it is measured in terms of kilocalories, or 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.  Although old methods used to require lighting food on fire, today's methods are much simpler:  kilocalories are counted by measuring the mass of the fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates within one gram of the food item.
Just one problem with this, however, not everyone burns calories at the same rate, and not every type of calorie nutrient is digested the same in everybody.  So back to the shoe scenario, everyone is different!  Science assumes 1) what is best for some must be best for all; 2) the average becomes the norm, and thereby becomes the general rule. 3) the general rule gives little to no allowance for flexibility once established.
This being said, you, as a normal American should be 5' 7, eat 2,000 calories per day, and weigh 177lbs. You, being the normal American, should eat 2,000 calories worth of 5 servings of whole wheat grains, 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 servings of  dairy, 2 servings of meat, and limit fats; or at least this is what I was taught in pre-med school.  I believe the rules have been updated to reflect more modern research.
What is not clarified, however, are the factors which influence your personal metabolic rate, which can fluctuate at a drop of a dime.        
Some factors which influence metabolism are: age, race, gender, size, familial history, muscle mass, bone mass, season, weather, nutrient level, medical history, personal history, social status, general health, and activity level.  But the biggest factor is the type of foods you eat.  For example, the body processes carbohydrates completely differently than proteins.  To make it even more confusing, there are different types of carbohydrates and different types of proteins.  Plus, there are different types of fiber and many types of fats.
I do not see anywhere, in any program, describing the different methods of food metabolism, insulin production, ketosis, or ATP production.  And if you have to look it up, (which I encourage you do) it is case in point.  Different types of foods metabolize differently inside of the body regardless of caloric count. 
The calorie was first calculated in the mid 1820's, and calories for food was later calculated in the late 1800's. After the kilocalorie became a popular means to calculate nutrient consumption, the food guideline was established in the early 1920's.  By the 1940's, the USDA created 7 basic food groups for men in the military and the recommended daily value of nutrients based on a 2,000 calorie diet was established.  Then, in the 1970's, the pyramid (which was divided in 4 distinct food groups by that point), added a fifth column of fats and unhealthy foods. By the 1980's, the food pyramid and calorie consumption became a tool for doctors and clinicians to use to emphasize nutritional consumption.  By mid 1990's, the basic nutritional guidelines for the 2,000 calorie diet was pushed by pediatrics, doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, schools, food industries, and the Government, to promote a healthier life in a population where obesity was on the rise. 
What happened?  Kids tease each other in school and form cliques based on size.  Scientists are trying to come up with pharmaceuticals to shrink fat cells, and promote weightloss. Products, such as creams, powders, gels, and elixirs flood the market.  A diet craze sweeps the Nation every few months. Gyms and weightloss centers have opened up practically on every corner.  Doctors preform surgery on patients to remove fat and skin.  Yet everyone buys the calorie hype which is often being pushed by the people who make money by doing so.  Calories have become a science based social construct, and the facts are often skewed out of proportion.   The fact that many Americans count calories, but are clueless about how their own body works is staggering.  I fell into that category at one time too.  Now, since I know how the digestive system works and how food addictions work, I am rather appalled that someone has not put a stop on the calorie myth once and for all. 

Stop counting calories.  The only calorie that is bad for you are the ones you count!   
The biggest thing I stress is that food is not bad, which the calorie myth portrays.  You should never deprive yourself of anything.  It is important to know that the body is really efficient at what it does, so you should let it do its own thing. If you let the body do what it does naturally, then you don't have to worry, it will take care of you. 

The point that I am trying to make is this: know your body, know your foods, and know that everyone is different.    

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