Listen Up: Calories Count. Period

(Post dedicated to Mr. Lyle McDonald, who’s always been right about this)

Dismiss the unbridled deconstructionists and reductionists who say stuff like “we don’t burn calories, we metabolize molecules,” and other such twists on that.

It’s like saying there’s no point in using a ruler or tape measure because it’s all atoms and sub-atomic particles.

It’s worse than tossing the baby out with the bathwater. It’s failing to draw a distinction between babies and their baths, and the particular utility of the latter.

It’s like saying we don’t need a map because the map is not the territory.

It’s dumb. Caloric measurements, while just as imperfect in determining the precise metabolic goings on as the Stanley tape measure is in counting atoms between two points, is nonetheless the best tool we have and it’s good enough for rocket science…just like Newton.

Elixa Probiotic is a British biotech manufacturer in Oxford, UK. U.S. Demand is now so high they’ve established distribution centers in Illinois, Nevada, and New Jersey.

Still, sell-outs happen regularly, so order now to avoid a waiting list.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Resurgent on April 26, 2017 at 11:38

    PLUS 100
    Well Said, Richard, I cannot think of better analogies..!

  2. VW on April 26, 2017 at 13:54

    But, but, but… Jimmy Moore says otherwise.

    • La Frite on April 26, 2017 at 14:32

      … and he’s got the look that goes with it!

    • HalfAsian on April 26, 2017 at 19:56

      And don’t forget that echo chamber known as Gary Taubes!

  3. EDR on April 26, 2017 at 16:58

    Fair enough…but I hate the whole concept of calories. It’s all I heard as a morbidly obese teen in the 80s and 90s. Watch your calories sonny! Just eat this here low calorie food and you’ll feel great and the girlies will all want you! Never had any success counting calories until I addressed the underlying addiction I had to unhealthy food. Once I cured that, the rest was pretty easy.

    I’ve never counted them since. Eat nutritious food in sensible portions, get a little exercise – use the scale, tape measure, fit of clothes and the handy bathroom mirror to track your progress. Never assume you know it all and continue to experiment, test and find what works for you individually.

    I find the whole concept of seeing the calorie as this magical answer for all things related to weight loss terribly overused. Is there science behind it? You bet…but I feel that it is incomplete and needs more work. And I find it curious that a calorie is a unit of measurement, and doesn’t exist in nature (or at all, really).

    Same goes for the “never weigh yourself more than once a week!” advice. Don’t know where that started. I weighed myself 1-3 times a day and had amazing results when I dropped 100 lbs of body fat a few years ago. Never counted a single damn calorie. Only time I don’t weigh often is when I’m lying to myself and I know I’m fallen off the wagon.

    I had the idea years ago to write a book called Fuck Calories, but it was mainly an FU at the diet and fitness industry and the millions they make off people who never make any damn progress.

    For some folks, sure, counting calories will help them. For others, it’s an escape without addressing the root cause that caused their obesity (seen it too many times to count, pun intended). They can have all the knowledge of the right foods and caloric content known to man, but if it all goes out the window when they walk by the pastry section, they’re screwed.

    • John on April 26, 2017 at 20:28

      EDR, I hear ya, and completely understand where you’re coming from. I used to think much like you. But there is a BIG difference between saying “I was successful losing weight without counting calories” and saying “Calories don’t count!”

      When it comes to weight loss, they DO count. Very much so. In fact, they are the MOST important factor in a successful weight loss regimen. If you were planning on launching an attack against excess fat, why would you ignore the one factor that will largely determine your success?

      I know where this comes from. Most people who bang on about “Calories In, Calories Out,” while correct, can’t offer you any more than that. Except for maybe some ridiculously low calorie diet that would probably be inappropriate for like 90% of dieters. Ask them about the Thermic Effect of Food, for example, and my guess is you’ll get a blank stare.

      But the solution to their ignorance isn’t simply more ignorance. It’s getting smarter. Do yourself a favor, and read Lyle McDonald’s article on The Energy Balance Equation- It’s long for a blog post, but short compared to a diet book, and packed with more info. I think he may have gotten some of the math wrong when talking about the muscle/fat thing, but structure is dead on.

      Today, with things like online food logs and fitness trackers and metabolism formulas, we can design a weight loss plan that targets fat while allowing for an appropriate caloric deficit, with lots of nutrition, especially if the plan is largely based around whole foods. It’s always gonna be an “estimate,” but the common person can have more precision in estimates they make in their own home that Metabolic Ward researcher had access to 50 years ago. THAT is awesome.

      Thing is, I do think there are things out there that could offer a potential “metabolic advantage.” These range from the area of supplements to thyroid to other hormones, to heat and cold, to a higher carb and lower fat diet, to the gut biome to red and infrared light. But if they do turn out to work, they will work within energy balance equation (either affecting an existing variable, or revealing a new one). So, that’s why I still pay attention to it, even after wearing a fitbit and logging food for like 3 years now.

    • Robert on April 27, 2017 at 02:02

      Low Carbers are often irritated by calorie fanatics, who say that you can lose weight on a twinkie diet, it’s all about calories, nothing else matters. Yes, you will lose weight. But also possibly ruin your health, and with 99% certainty you’ll regain with extras. All the lost muscle mass will cause significantly lower BMR.

      Calorie people are instead irritated when some low carbers claim calories don’t matter. That you can eat almost unlimited amounts of fat and still lose, as long as carbs are low (and even protein).

      Both these extremes are unreasonable, and untrue. The camps should meet in the middle, but if your religious about your beliefs, it doesn’t happen.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 27, 2017 at 12:03

      There is a metabolic advantage. It’s called high protein. Get your protein above 40% of your intake (in a caloric balance setting…doesn’t matter if already in significant deficit, since that’s your advantage in itself), and around 25% of those protein calories are freebies.


      Fat has a TEF of 1-2%, so you get the full 9 cal per gram, three times as much as protein at 3 grams, in this setting. And people wonder why they get fat.

    • thhq on April 28, 2017 at 09:18

      Oops, craig, not clarence.

      Robert, when I as an obese person went to my doctor in 2007 for my annual physical I didn’t get that advice. After reviewing my 200 fasting blood glucose and 8 A1C tests, he asked me what I had done to screw up my diet. Then he examined my feet for diabetic ulcers.

      That’s when I got the message. And it did not fail to get me motivated. He gave me this booklet and a blood glucose monitor. and I figured out the rest.

      If it’s a matter of losing your ability to walk ANYONE can figure out how to count. I started counting carbs per the booklet, and switched to counting calories.

    • Craig on April 27, 2017 at 21:06

      I’ve struggled to keep my weight at a reasonable level for most of the last 30 years. I had one good run with a low carb/paleo style diet, but that seemed to stop working for me after about a year, and I eventually regained most of the weight that I had lost. Six weeks ago, I decided it was time to stop chasing after the magic formula (the correct macronutrient to demonize, or the right kind of food, or the right macronutrient ratio) that would allow me to eat according to appetite and lose weight naturally. I got a food diary app (Fat Secret) and began restricting calories. The app estimated my maintenance calories at the beginning to be 2700. So I set an upper limit of 2000 calories per day. I’ve stuck with that target pretty closely, probably have averaged around 1850 calories per day over the last 6 weeks. From day 1, I’ve been losing weight in a very predictable fashion (with the usual +/- 1 lb daily fluctuations). So far, it seems to have all come off my belly and trunk. Not seeing any impact of my strength in the gym. My weight is dropping at about 2.3-2.5 lbs per week, so I suspect my maintenance calories at the start were probably closer to 3000-3100/day. I’m trying to keep protein on the high side, but even when I fall a little bit low on protein and high on the carb side, it doesn’t seem to matter much.

      I’ve been combining the calorie limit with a very mild kind of intermittent fasting. I try not to eat anything after 8 or 9 PM, and then shoot for a minimum 12 hour overnight fast (which I’ll push up to 14 or 15 hours if I’m not too hungry in the morning). For reference, I had previously tried the same kind of intermittent fasting before, without any calorie limits, and I just didn’t lose any weight.

      I am a bit stunned by how well it works, and how having a calorie budget to work with really helps with hunger management. Now I am kicking myself for not trying this sooner. Why didn’t I? Some weird ideas about it being unnatural, or obsessive, or just somehow wrong.

      My guess is that people who start out counting calories and stick with it long enough can eventually stop doing the actual counting, because they become very good at eyeballing appropriate portion sizes. It undoubtedly helps if you tend to eat the same meals over and over again.

      Recently, I heard an interview with Clarence Bass where he made the claim that if you ate healthy, whole, unprocessed foods you wouldn’t have to count calories, you couldn’t over eat. Sure sounded convincing. But then, he described his evening ritual, where he allows himself a snack before bed, maybe a piece of toast with some jam on it. OK, nothing weird about that. But then he allows that he had gotten into a friendly competition with another guy, and ended up seeing how long he could make that piece of toast last (by taking smaller and smaller bites). That sure doesn’t sound like someone who is eating to satiety, does it? What people claim to be doing, and what they are actually doing might be a little different.

    • thhq on April 28, 2017 at 04:15

      @clarence weight loss on calorie counting was pretty steady for me so long as I kept deficits near 1000 kcal/day. At that level I lost 2 lbs a week steady for 6 months. When you run deficits that high there’s no question that you’re at a deficit, whereas lower deficits can be easily undone by counting errors. As time went on I started getting most of the deficit from calories out activity rather than food restriction. Too hungry.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 28, 2017 at 06:30

      Good deal, Craig. Nice. Keep us informed!

    • Robert on April 28, 2017 at 08:56

      EDR & John, I think you nailed it down. CICO works perfectly when you lock someone in a metabolic ward, tie them to a bed so they can’t move anything but their eyeballs, and feed them through a tube. The equation never fails, laws of thermodynamics.

      But if an obese person comes to his doctor, and get the advice: eat less, move more, it’s all about calories – it will fail. I think Jason Fung claims that studies show 99% failure rate (long term) for this approach.

    • Robert on April 28, 2017 at 10:08


      Well done, you are the 1%. It’s inspiring to see your tenacity, keeping it up for such a long time.

      My dad is part of the 99%. I remember when he was diagnosed with T2D. Fired up by the prospect of diabetes complications, he started working out a lot, cut food, and lost lots of weight. I was quite young at the time, and I felt happy my dad took control of his health. But years passed, and he lost motivation, got fatter and fatter.

      A couple of years ago, I suggested low carb. He’s now doing great, lost massive amount of weight. Now he’s started fasting as well, and even better results. All this even allows for pizza and beer on weekends, and almost all medicins gone.

      He probably got standard Swedish diabetes advice, low fat, whole grain, carby snacks.

      I too lost about 5 kg first time dieting, counting calories. My diet was mostly frozen pizza (convenient, calories indicated on box, no need to weigh or measure), plus lots of walking to “earn” candy and chocolate. But I gained all back within a year, a few weekends letting go was enough. I remember lot’s of hunger.

      I had read online that all that matters is calories, you can lose weight on Twinkies. But I no longer believe that. Food quality can’t be ignored.

    • thhq on April 28, 2017 at 12:37

      I started out restricting carbs robert, but I dropped that as I lost weight and went back to eating anything without affecting my blood glucose. In my case at least T2 diabetes was the symptom but obesity was the root cause. Macronutrients didn’t count for weight loss as much as calorie deficit did. And reduced waistline counted more than scale weight.

  4. Marc on April 26, 2017 at 19:11

    Beautifully said and couldn’t agree more…

    If I may ask a question,
    For years now (8) I’ve wondered where the 2500 calorie recommendation for the average male and 2000 calorie for the female comes from? What type of caloric intake was this based on?

    As such using your “poptarts vs home artisan sourdough” comparison, 2500 calories from pizza and pop tarts vs some pasture eggs and potato salad and a nice salad coming in at lets say 1900 calories for the day, are we comparing apples to apples ?

    All I know is that after years of being muscled and puffy (182-5’7) I dropped 24 pounds of puffy and have maintained that for over 2 years now …yup simply by finally taking total calories seriously .
    I lift the same poundage now as I did at weight 182 ..have lost no muscle mass. Finally starting to look really good Nekid at age almost 50 haha!

    Thanks Richard, for all the great post lately and to all for the amazing comments and free education.

    • Robert on April 27, 2017 at 02:36

      Marc, how did you accomplish this? Just counting calories? What macros? And what is your take on pizza/pop tarts vs. eggs and salad?

      I’m convinced the eggs and potato salad will do better in the long run.

    • Marc on April 27, 2017 at 06:32


      Started eating real food in 2006 with heavy emphasis on mimicking Art D.’s meal plate pics and info.
      That was really all there was back then…
      Then onto Mark Sisson….. And yes I did make one or two “meatzas” back then lol.

      Been following Richard since 2007….. And in 2010 started with giving ” palo” the bye bye, and brought beans, rice and potato back into the fold.
      As to macros…back then was paying unnecessary attention to it.

      Now, it’s all simple with no ” what do I eat stress”
      Veggies, good quality protein (in your searches for expensive grassfedbeef and pasture chicke , please keep Costco in mind. Last Saturday I picked up a few pounds of fresh Dover sole. $5.99 a pound ) good fats which includes avocado and nuts, starches like potato and “good”bread here and there…

      The biggest thing for me calorie wise was that 2 years ago I started measuring my fat. It’s easy to cook or dress salad with 3 tablespoons of olive oil when you only need 1 teaspoon…
      Same same for butter which I LOVE

      I believe that made the difference ultimately. ……..combined with just real food for many years now.
      Hope it’s useful.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 27, 2017 at 11:57


      I’ve been doing the same thing, using an app called Loose It. First time I’ve stuck with it (three weeks now), cause I like the app. Yep, about 25 pounds of a bit extra flab to come off. My Fitbit says I’m doing 2,200 – 2,600 daily, depending on activity.

      I’m easily staying under 1,800 calories on average by targeting lean protein, average 150g per day. I alternate higher fat, lower carb, and higher carb, low fat on a weekly basis.

      I’ll be blogging about it.

    • Robert on April 27, 2017 at 13:21

      Thank you Marc, helpful advice. I especially liked your idea about measuring fat. It’s really true that you often can cut back on added fats, and that really lowers the calories. I’ll try to implement this better.
      Wow! I just put in the numbers, there’s a 240 kcal difference between 1T and 3T olive oil! I didn’t expect it to be that much really. It just goes to show calories count.

      Richard: many studies showing great results with high protein diets. Even if you would cut calories to 1800 by pure willpower on carbs + fat, it wouldn’t be muscle sparing.

    • Paul on April 27, 2017 at 16:04


      Done it for 5 years now and just about to turn 48. I have played with different food quality and it makes a very big material difference to skin, energy balance, and ease etc.

      What people fail to realise is that dieting down and keeping lean means there are going to be periods where you are hungry, uncomfortable and craving more food volume.

      If dieting was easy and effortless and staying lean the same then there would be no need for all the crap peddled on the interwebz.

      Getting lean and staying lean is not easy. Satiation and fullness as a goal during a diet is a fleeting day to day journey.

      You KNOW you diet is working by the simple fact that you experience periods of hunger.

      I have never got this “get a diet that is so satiating you never ever feel discomfort”

      Why not “dieting to a low bodyfat where a 6 pack is clearly visible sucks, so stop looking for a fucking magic pill, easy way out, and be proud of the fact that when you do it you are a walking testament to your own discipline”.

      Looking for a way to diet and remain full and happy throughout is like the social justice warriors demanding a safe space in a university environment.

      Paul d

    • Marc on April 27, 2017 at 20:10


      I live food quality :-)
      The only times I feel hungry is when I decide to not to give into convenience and wait until I can get my Hands on some real food. This is mostly when I travel or like tonight getting home late from work.
      I’ve kept a food blog (zero commercialsim) for 10 years now just sharing what I eat…. Simply to give back a little from what I’ve gained from eating real food made at home.
      I don’t believe I’m on any type of diet per se. The only reason I started measuring fat intake was simply because it was the last piece of the puzzle for ME feeling my best and me finding my weight “set point” …. Which I knew was slightly to high (taking muscle mass into account) again simply for my pants waist size being just a little to high for my height.

      Maybe that’s a little clarification, but perhaps I totally misinterpreted your comment ?

    • Paul on April 28, 2017 at 01:08


      Brother you have found the truth that food composition counts a great deal in making compliance at low bodyfat a sustainable (mentally and physically) part of life.

      This is the key. A diet is a food plan that becomes a permanent way of eating you stick to permanently and becomes your way of life.

      Cheers Paul

  5. Robert on April 27, 2017 at 02:10

    There is one often repeated argument in Low Carb circles that I think is dishonest. They often say that humans have no natural way of counting calories, and to show the absurdity of it, they mention if you eat one more bite of food (10 kcal) than energy balance a day, you would eat around 3500 kcal too much per year. You would gain a pound of fat per year. I agree with this, it’s a good way of exposing that CICO isn’t everything.

    However, if you apply the same logic to what they are doing – counting CARBS, it’s just as absurd. We have no natural way of determining that there’s too much carbs in something, and therefore we are naturally repelled by that food. On the contrary, we enjoy carby foods.

    You can’t look down upon people weighing their food and counting calories, when you yourself weigh and count carbs.

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 27, 2017 at 16:19

      “if you eat one more bite of food (10 kcal) than energy balance a day, you would eat around 3500 kcal too much per year. You would gain a pound of fat per year.”
      That’s not correct. As weight increases, energy expenditure increases. In 3 years time, weight would stabilise at a level 1lb higher. To keep gaining weight requires more and more extra bites of food, to keep increasing energy intake. Ref:

      Also, weight gain consists of part fat mass gain & part fat-free mass gain.

    • Robert on April 27, 2017 at 23:15

      Thanks Nigel, very good article you linked to. I used the calorie calculator there, I want to drop 4 kg in 90 days, and it tells me I’ll accomplish this with 2455 kcal a day, and 2720 after that for maintenance.

  6. Nigel Kinbrum on April 27, 2017 at 03:06

    Excellent post.

    Do you agree or disagree that the Food Product Industry is directly to blame for obesity, by using Edward Bernays’s marketing methods to influence the population to over-consume over-refined, moreish crap that they don’t need? Ref:

    If you agree, what can be done about it?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 27, 2017 at 17:58

      Hi Nigel, sounds pretty correct to me, at least as one of the factors.

      I think there are other contributors as well, such as fortification.

      And then there’s the compromised gut biomes that come along with… so it’s in ways various factors exacerbating others.

    • Paul on April 28, 2017 at 01:18

      Hi Nigel,

      I blame only myself for getting to a state in my life where I was a fat obese out of condition lazy sickly heart attack candidate.

      The sooner a person takes 100% responsibility for their own actions (aka putting excessive amounts of “great tasting” sugar and fat laden calorie dense foods in their mouths) and stops doing this instead of blaming anything and everything outside of themselves, the better the chance of success.

      I am sure you know 10 times more about nutrition than me, but what condition of body fat are you in?

      Paul d

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 28, 2017 at 02:22

      Hi Paul,

      Blaming *all* fat people for having a lack of personal responsibility isn’t correct. Some do.

      Please watch , to see how the Food Product Industry got the population to over-consume their over-refined products.

      As of yesterday, my BMI was 27.0 and my BF% was 26.3%, using bio-impedance scales.

      Cheers, Nige

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 28, 2017 at 02:42

      Hi Richard,

      About a year ago, Duck Dodgers & Jane Karlsson got involved in a humongous discussion on Evelyn’s blog about iron overload causing obesity.

      To cut a very long story short, Evelyn found two rodent studies which disproved the iron hypothesis, as the high Fe:Mn chow was fine, but the low Fe:Mn chow (which was high in fat & sugar) caused hypothalamic damage & obesity. According to the iron hypothesis, this is impossible, therefore the hypothesis is disproved.

      Gut biomes vary with diet. A diet based on crap-in-a-bag is going to produce a different biome from a diet based on animal & vegetable produce. This may have an effect on appetite.

      Chronic over-consumption produces a chronic positive energy balance which results in chronic weight gain. The Food Product Industry used Edward Bernays’s psychological manipulation methods to get people to over-consume stuff they didn’t need. Please watch the video linked in my reply to Paul.

    • Paul on April 28, 2017 at 02:43


      I remember seeing you display a great depth of nutritional understanding in discussions many years ago.

      You were also a good hearted dude.

      People from recollection were also assholes to you at the time.

      I treat a chronically obese girl in my practice.

      One of the kindest hearted gentle souls I have met.

      Her goal is to find a path to suistainable and balanced weight loss while being kind on herself.

      I support that as her therapist 100%.

      I hold this hard ass mindset for myself only.

      I am not sure what your personal goals are, but I was wondering after all this time how you had “progressed”. I recall you used to be around 13-15% from photos I had seen.


    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 28, 2017 at 04:16

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Before Oct 2015, my Asperger’s meant that I *could* be quite annoying (ain’t that right, Richard? :-D). Since my appointment with a mental health professional at the end of Oct 2015, I updated my brain’s OS to V2, which seems to be working much better than V1. Most people can’t tell that I have Asperger’s, now.

      You can’t tell what my BF% is by looking at photos of me. I look slimmer than I am. By a stroke of luck, a friend videoed me last night singing at a jam session. The video is public, so you should be able to watch it. That is what I look like at 26.3% BF.

      This ain’t karaoke, Richard!

      Please don’t be so hard on yourself. The psychological manipulation by the Food Product Industry is so subtle that the population’s unaware of it. The Food Product Industry has “normalised the abnormal”, making we people who want to eat healthily the “weirdos”.

      As knowledge is power, I hope that watching the dailymotion video will make you aware of the manipulative tricks, so that you can become immune to them.

      Best wishes, Nige

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 28, 2017 at 04:58

      Hi again Paul,

      As the video of me is dark and I’m wearing a cardigan, here’s a photo of me taken on Wednesday 26th April:-

      Cheers, Nige

    • Richard Nikoley on April 28, 2017 at 06:45

      Yes, we no longer think iron to be the culprit…though there’s obviously no need for fortification.

      It’s more likely the B vitamin fortification, which as shown in feedlot animals, enhances appetite so they overeat. But sure, the fancy packages, labeling, advertising, marketing plays a role as well, I would agree.

      It’s a bunch of stuff, all working together…as well as plain economics. Junky food is comparatively cheap, now. The good stuff more dear, to put it in the English way.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 28, 2017 at 06:56

      Glad to see you’re doing well, Nigel.

      The spats were never that bad, nor was I easy to deal with either. :)

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 28, 2017 at 08:55

      Glad to see you’re doing well too, Richard.

      It’s all water under the bridge. Nowadays, my attitude to life is mostly “Pffft, whatever!” :-D

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 29, 2017 at 01:50

      If enhanced appetite is to blame, how come so many people suffering from health problems caused by chronic over-consumption resist changing their lifestyle to reverse their health problems, preferring to take medications which don’t even compensate for their poor lifestyle? I follow Dr. Spencer Nadolsky on FB.

      What about some of the kids in ? They’re overly-attached to candy at a young age.

      If Bernays-style manipulation by the Food Product Industry is to blame, there’s only one organisation powerful enough to deal with it. The Government. However, rampant consumerism is the opiate of the people, so the Government does nothing. Maybe in the future, if/when so many people become ill that it adversely affects the government in some way, something will be done about it. I’m not in favour of taxing things, as the wrong things usually get taxed. I’m in favour of a ban on all forms of marketing for anything that’s swallowed.

      Have at it!

    • Richard Nikoley on April 29, 2017 at 06:49

      It’s not a debate I really care to take up Nigel, but In certainly applaud you calling attention to it.. Would rather focus my efforts on encouraging people to make better choices. And it seems more and more do…even the vegans get some credit for that, cause even when a former vegan goes back to animal consumption, they probably do it well.

      Of course, as the logic goes, this is only a “problem” because of socialized health care. People don’t like paying for the folly of others. Similar to the immigration debate, where the real crux of it is that people come in and get on various public assistance.

      Just stop the socialism. There’s my 2 pence.

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 29, 2017 at 07:50

      Health care currently has to mitigate the damage caused by the Food Product Industry. I know how you feel about government, but should the Food Product Industry be allowed to do what it’s currently doing? I don’t have a problem with other industries.

      Psychological manipulation takes away people’s personal freedom, as they are influenced to commit follies without them knowing why. I think that that’s wrong.

      I think that socialised health care is a red herring. If people are allowed to make lifestyle choices of their own free will, there won’t be anywhere near as many suffering from T2DM, CHD, strokes, cancers, joint issues, mobility issues etc.

  7. leonrover on April 27, 2017 at 03:37

    Hi Richard
    If you post ‘bou dis you might title it “freeda???”


  8. Z-man on April 27, 2017 at 03:52
  9. Sassysquatch on April 27, 2017 at 04:33

    A few years back, Asprey posted a picture of himself with ripped abs, boasting that he got them eating 5,000 calories a day and doing no exercise at all. So there you have it, from the master of B.S., calories don’t matter. Wanna be bulletproof? Just stuff in 5,000 calories a day (mostly from processed fat) and sit on the couch.

    Or maybe his point was that calories do matter………the more you eat, the leaner your midsection becomes!

    • Robert on April 27, 2017 at 13:35

      There has been other similar experiments, most notably Sam Feltham doing something similar. I think there are three reasons why these experiments of overeating works.

      One: they are quite short. The body fights weight gain, but can’t fight forever. If they would continue for years, they might get fat.

      Two: they are reasonably lean and healthy to begin with. I watched a BBC documentary where they let some students gorge on junk food. Some people ballooned, but especially one guy hadn’t gained anything at the end of the experiment. His body refused to gain weight, fought it off. Set point takes time to change in a healthy individual. Some might balloon, others don’t. It’s individual.

      Three: it’s mostly just one macro, all fat. I haven’t seen anyone doing all carbs 4000 kcal, but maybe it would work. Or 4000 kcal protein only, I think someone doing that would probably be ripped!

      Conclusion: Sassy, if you want to try eating 5000 kcal, please don’t do fat+carbs.

    • John Smith on April 30, 2017 at 11:21

      Four: they lied.

  10. pzo on April 27, 2017 at 07:34

    I’ve read a lot of Lyle’s stuff, he’s smart and well informed.

    However, CICO has to be the ultimate diet reductionism. It fails to take into account the thermal effect of food, almost one in four protein calories is consumed metabolizing itself. It fails to take into account secondary and tertiary effects of food types; adequate vitamins, hormone creation, or lack thereof, which can directly effect weight loss, libido, or loss of lean body mass.

    Sure, go ahead with an all donut diet. You can lose weight – ain’t no bariatric wards in concentration camps – but it won’t only be fat disappearing. Even your heart will be consumed as your scale smiles at you. Eat up to 2X the RDA in quality protein during weight loss, split the remaining calories roughly with fat and carbs, and you’ll be healthy during weight loss.

    And, of course, semantics. As someone said, don’t confuse “counting calories” with “calories don’t count.”

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 27, 2017 at 09:37

      “It fails to take into account the thermal effect of food…”
      No, it doesn’t. The Energy Balance Equation takes everything into account. Ref:

      “It fails to take into account secondary and tertiary effects of food types; adequate vitamins, hormone creation, or lack thereof, which can directly effect weight loss, libido, or loss of lean body mass.”
      That’s a strawman. CICO is about changes in body stores ONLY.

      If a diet high in over-refined food products is eaten, counting calories is useless, as excessive hunger will cause over-eating. A diet based on animal & vegetable produce, with over-refined products as occasional snacks should result in a reasonable weight being maintained.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 27, 2017 at 18:05

        Thanks Nigel. I had just re-read that energy balance post this morning.

    • thhq on April 27, 2017 at 10:15

      CICO is a self-correcting discipline that works. I’ve used it for 10 years to maintain weight loss. The terms in CI – (CO + BMR) have to be corrected by individual experience over a period of months. Particularly BMR, which is affected by weight and age. Most people pay little attention to CO, but tabular forms have been readily available since the 1950’s. Like BMR, CO varies in direct proportion to weight.

    • thhq on April 27, 2017 at 10:31

      Here’s Mayo’s tabulation, with the weight correction.

      I’ve found that tables like these include BMR and the exercise effect. To use the CICO equation the exrcise effect needs to be deducted, in my case 70 kcal/hr. It’s also useful to convert biking, running and walking into distance rather than time, especially if you’re using mileposts or counting steps.

    • thhq on April 27, 2017 at 10:33

      Wups, deduct the BMR effect of 70 kcal/hr from the total effect. On a mileage basis, walking at 3.5 mph, this is 20 kcal/mile.

  11. pzo on April 27, 2017 at 09:46

    Nigel, I wasn’t referring to Lyle’s position or “Energy Balance Equation,” SAD or other diets per se. Just that different macros have different net calories and that an unhealthy diet can negatively impact weight loss by hormones, etc. One of the “etc.’s” that I didn’t mention is the gut biome, two diets of equal calories can have vastly different biomes, leading to vastly different SFA production, or even inability to make it.

    • Nigel Kinbrum on April 27, 2017 at 10:55

      Fair enough. To sum things up:

      For changes in body stores, calories count.
      For everything else, food quality counts.

  12. thhq on April 27, 2017 at 10:06

    Everyone here leaves out the equally important CO.

    Don’t overdiet it.

    An army marches on its stomach, not its iPads. A good French army marching food is brandade de morue. Pureed salt cod, garlic, olive oil and cream. It’s usually extended with potatoes because of the cost of the fish.

    • Hap on April 29, 2017 at 10:58

      French army must have shit for breath

  13. Matthew on April 27, 2017 at 10:47

    I agree calories are king. That being said calories and macros are so blase.

    As discussed on this blog MANY times it’s all about nutrition density in food.

    Hit your MICROS (vit D, Vit C, Vit A, zinc, manganese, etc.) and you’ll be so full that you won’t have room for junk, and you’ll be running a big calorie deficit as well. The pounds will drop off.

    Not to mention all the bodily systems that will be working more efficiently, expelling even more weight.

  14. Sassysquatch on April 27, 2017 at 11:36

    As Michael Pollan says:

    Eat food.
    Not too much.
    Mostly plants.

    You don’t have to worry about micros, macros and other such nonsense.
    This ain’t rocket science!!

    • thhq on April 27, 2017 at 12:16

      As Linus Pauling says, bacon and eggs for breakfast. And juicy steak for dinner. And drink your OJ.

    • thhq on April 27, 2017 at 12:18

      Ergo it’s important that the plants get turned into protein before you eat them.

    • Hap on April 27, 2017 at 19:16

      It’ aint rocket science….but it has it’s pitfalls in a post industrial/modern context.

      If you want to distill it into a sort of haiku proverb….Michael Pollan has it almost nailed.

      I would add..

      Eat food
      Not too much…..sometimes not at all
      Mostly plants.

      Everything else is merely commentary.

    • thhq on April 28, 2017 at 09:35

      Eat bacon and eggs for brakfast.
      Steak for dinner.
      Drink OJ.

  15. Z-man on April 27, 2017 at 13:47

    Baby Jesus weeps with tears of joy everytime you post Richard.

  16. Z-man on April 27, 2017 at 16:43

    Baby Jesus also weeps when you find salvation in Martin Berkhan’s great works.

    • thhq on April 28, 2017 at 09:32

      THIS Martin Berkhan?

      “He had a complete mental breakdown, wrote a tirade against me and Alan, called me a coward, took it down 4 hours later and then disappeared. I think he’s a good case study for what happens when you try to stay 6% year around, your body eats your brain.”

      Extreme approaches get unexpected results.

      I’ll stick with Keys. Lalanne, Yudkin, Guyenet and Pauling.

    • Hugh Anderson on April 28, 2017 at 22:06

      THAT Martin Berkhan. I did a reddit post a few years back documenting when he first started to hit the scene and was active on Lyle’s “mean forum”.

      The PDF I linked to is a dead link but someone put it on their website here:

      From combing through old posts it was clear Lyle, Martin, and Alan were Internet buddies of a sort before Lyle turned sour on Martin and would never miss an opportunity to dog him. The whole forum then turned on Martin. Which years later eventually boiled over. Martin’s short-lived diatribe wasn’t that crazy, just someone with hurt feelings letting it all hang out.

      All that aside, my time playing with the Leangains protocol taught me it only really worked for me when I was tracking calories. And I did enough meal planning during those days to learn firsthand many of the lessons here, one being that fat calories add up quick and it doesn’t take much more than an extra spoonful of peanut butter to erase a deficit.

  17. Justin Owings on April 28, 2017 at 10:29

    Ol’ Lyle. That guy is a character but he knows his s**t.

    Mind your total calories and when in doubt eat more protein and less fat. And if what you’re doing is not working, quit wasting time doing the same thing expecting different results and change something. And if you aren’t yet or are just bent on being stubborn about doing it, count calories.

    More protein + counting calories = six-pack with varying degrees of vascularity for going on seven years. (mic drop)

  18. Dirk on April 29, 2017 at 05:52

    As I mentioned in another post, I haven’t eaten SAD since 1987 and still have a boyish figure :)
    I can’t attribute this to any foods or genetics. I can only attribute it to calories not eaten …

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