Do Calories Matter? Is a Calorie a Calorie? (Science of Weight Gain)

Why does Bill Gates have so much money? Because he earned more money than he spent Why did Basketball Team X win the big game? They scored more points than Team Y. “Goddamnit Pete, why are you fat?” The typical answer is that more calories went
in than out of Pete’s body. The responses to these four questions aren’t
technically wrong but… they’re not helpful. Calorie counting may induce weight loss, but
why would you care about that? Losing 10 pounds is great, but wouldn’t
you want to know where that 10 lbs came from? Was it bone, muscle or fat? Then, if it’s fat, which is what most of
us want to lose, is it subcutaneous fat or visceral fat? Pediatric Endocrinologist Robert Lustig points
out in his book “Fat Chance” that several studies show that the amount of subcutaneous
fat you have, the fat under your skin, correlates with increased longevity; Whereas visceral
fat, the fat around your organs that gives you a big belly, promotes inflammation and
causes several health detriments meaning the difference between dying early in your fifties
or living into your eighties or longer. A pound of fat being 3500 calories is usually
the piece of data we’re provided with to help us create our weight loss goals. For example if you create a deficit of 500
calories per day, then in a week you will lose a pound of fat. But why would the body choose to discard fat
first when you restrict calories? Decreasing your energy intake is interpreted
by your body as you being in a situation where less energy (food) is available. Thus, it will do what it can to keep the stored
energy it has and slow down processes that spend energy. Muscle is a relatively energy expensive tissue
while one of fat’s functions is to serve as a place for energy storage. So the body would want to preserve the fat
and break down the muscle, to conserve as much energy as it can. And that’s what it does. Through a process called gluconeogenesis,
“new glucose making,” muscle is broken down into glucose which can be used for energy. So now you have successfully reduced your
weight by going into a caloric deficit, but now it’s even harder to maintain a caloric
deficit and lose more weight because your resting energy expenditure is now less due
to having lost muscle. Jonathan Bailor points out in his book “The
Calorie Myth” that “Studies show that up to 70 percent of the
nonwater weight lost when people are eating less comes from burning muscle–not body fat. Only after it’s cannibalized this muscle will
our body burn fat.” So your calorie restrictive diet may actually
reduce your weight as you intended, but the weight isn’t necessarily coming off from
where you’d like it to, and this whole process becomes an uphill battle. Restricting calories without modifying the
composition of your diet will cause your body to lower energy expenditure and increase hunger
to provoke you to get back to your normal energy intake. “Eat less and exercise,” the typical advice
for weight loss, is a strategy fueled mainly by willpower. Hunger and lowered energy expenditure is going
to set you up to where the last thing your body wants to do is exercise. Alright, maybe it’s more simple to look
at how people get too fat in the first place. Surely to get fat, one has to eat too much. But what causes that excessive eating? We have very sensitive receptors in our body
that let us know when it is too hot, too cold, when we’re thirsty, et cetera. What would cause someone to eat past the point
of satiety so much and so frequently that they become overweight or obese? Of course small fluctuations in weight throughout
the year is not unnatural. But when people get significantly overweight
or obese over time through overeating, surely something is significantly wrong with the
way their body processes food and the way their hunger and satiety receptors work. So what calories in calories out isn’t explaining
is why some people’s bodies will just raise energy expenditure in response to eating too
much, keeping them thin while other people get fat. Just because you eat extra calories doesn’t
mean they have to be stored, they could just be burned off automatically. The medical journal QJM reports, “Food in
excess of immediate requirements… can easily be disposed of, being burnt up and dissipated
as heat. Did this capacity not exist, obesity would
be almost universal.” So why is it that obese people don’t automatically
dispose of calories, experience intense lethargy, and have voracious appetites despite having
massive amounts of energy available in the form of fat on their body? What is particularly interesting about this
is that the satiety hormone, Leptin, is secreted by your fat cells. So if we are to assume that a calorie is a
calorie and the type of food you eat does not have any peripheral effects… like disrupting
the hormonal environment of the body, then fat people should have less of an appetite
than leaner people. We would need to assume that all overweight
people have something like a gene defect that screws up their hormones, leading to this
dysfunctional situation where the brain is constantly being told to eat more food despite
having plenty of stored energy available on the body. Robert Lustig explains that only 2 percent
of morbid obesity is explained by genes. “Researchers worldwide have scanned the
human genome and have identified thirty-two genes that are associated with obesity in
the general population. Altogether, these genes explain a total of
9 percent of obesity. And even if one person had every single bad
gene variation, it would account for only about 22 pounds–hardly enough to explain
our current obesity pandemic. ” So when people get fat, they are of course
for some reason or another, taking in much more calories than they need to. But, their body for some reason chooses to
use nearly all these extra calories for body fat accumulation at the expense of muscle. “And I always had it in my head that the morbidly
obese were probably pretty well muscled underneath all that because effectively they’re lifting
weights all the time. But it’s not the case – their muscles are
extraordinarily atrophied. Your external oblique muscle that ought to
be y’know as thick as a piece of steak, in these people it’s paper thin and stretched
to the point of bursting. Because they are having nutrient partitioning
that doesn’t allow energy to go anywhere but the body fat. So they are literally starving inside an encasement
of blubber.” A good example for understanding why the body
uses calories in different ways is puberty: During puberty, young men and women develop
bigger appetites, and that extra energy is put towards developing things like sex organs
and making their bodies larger in general. But young men put on a lot of muscle during
this phase whereas young women put on more fat. You might attribute this to the fact that
young men are more likely to play sports, but the way fat is distributed is very different
between the two genders. Most guys are not gonna find their pants are
getting tighter due to butt and hip fat. This is the effect of several hormones, particularly
one named insulin. Insulin is an anabolic hormone- it’s known
as the energy storage hormone, or sometimes the “fat storage hormone” -one of its
jobs is directing how the food you take in will be stored. And, puberty is associated with a higher than
normal secretion of insulin. A very clear illustration of insulin’s fat
accumulation abilities is the side effect some diabetes patients experience where they
develop a mound of fat at the site where they frequently inject their insulin. This is called lipohypertrophy. So understanding how food affects hormones
would be better for weight management than understanding how many calories are going
in and out of your body. Other than insulin, worthwhile hormones to
look at are: Leptin and Hormone sensitive lipase Leptin is the satiety hormone – if you have
higher leptin levels and your brain has no problem reading these levels, then you feel
“full”. And, hormone sensitive lipase breaks down
fat so it can be used for energy, this of course is important if you want to lose body
fat. Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto
Health Care System genetically altered mice so they could no longer make use of hormone
sensitive lipase. These mice ate more and gained 70 percent
less than normal mice. Completely independent of calories, altering
the mice’s hormones caused a drastic reduction in body fat accumulation. So the ideal situation is to have high levels
of leptin so you are not hungry all the time, and you would want lower levels of insulin
so your body doesn’t store too much energy, and you would want hormone sensitive lipase
to be activated so it would break down body fat. Losing body fat while not being hungry would
be the ideal situation, right? The problem with calories in calories out
is it doesn’t tell you anything about how to achieve this preferred hormonal situation. But, paying attention to how much of and what
kinds of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are in your meals will tell you much more
about how your hormones are going to respond. This brings us to the next point: Is a calorie
a calorie? For a calorie to be a calorie, we would expect
all foods to be processed in similar ways in the body without having unique effects
on our hormones or other biochemical processes. But in the case of alcohol a calorie is clearly
not a calorie as it has some interesting peripheral effects due to the fact that 10% of the alcohol
you ingest is metabolized in the brain, making you drunk and 80% of it is metabolized in
the liver, leading to liver disease and other problems. Another one is trans-fats, which are very
different from other fats. The synthetic nature of trans-fats doesn’t
allow them to be broken down in your mitochondria and they contribute to metabolic disease and
atherosclerosis. Proteins, get broken down into amino acids
in the body, and the liver will use these for either protein synthesis, i.e. muscle
growth or convert them into either glucose or fatty acids. These processes though depend on your insulin
levels, whether you have broken down muscle tissue through exercise and how much glucose
is stored in the form of glycogen in your body. And there are all kinds of amino acids, some
that are essential and can only come from the diet and some that are non-essential. Fats on the other hand get broken down into
free fatty acids and they will be processed by your mitochondria for energy or stored
in the muscle or stored in your fat tissue. And there are several different types of fat,
some good, some bad. For example you have bad ones like trans fats
we just talked about and you have fatty-acids like DHA, which is theorized to be what allowed
humans to evolve their big brains. Glucose, the carbohydrate found in things
like rice or starchy vegetables passes into the bloodstream and then stimulates the pancreas
to make insulin, allowing it to get into the cell so that it can be burned up for energy
or it may be stored as glycogen. Depending on how much glycogen is already
stored in the body and how quickly and how much glucose is entering your system at one
time, glucose may be stored as fat through a process called de novo lipogenesis. Keep in mind that fiber in vegetables is going
to slow down the rate at which glucose is processed. So your body will react very differently to
say 50g of glucose from white bread and 50g of glucose from broccoli. Now there’s another carbohydrate called
fructose (or “frooooctose”) found in sweet things like fruit, juice, honey or table sugar. The tricky thing about table sugar, or sucrose,
is it’s comprised of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose, yet glucose
by itself is sometimes called sugar. For example, blood sugar is synonymous with
blood glucose. However what I’m discussing is fructose,
a molecule very different and much sweeter than glucose. Fructose is technically a carbohydrate but
it is not necessary for any biochemical reaction in the body, so almost all of it is processed
in the liver. The interesting thing about fructose is, among
other negative effects like promoting the development of fatty liver disease, is it
causes insulin resistance, meaning the more you eat sweet things, the more your pancreas
will have to secrete insulin to get its job done, leading to higher and higher insulin
levels. Fructose, by the way, is in 74% of all packaged
foods in the form of added sugars. If you’re trying to lose body fat, you’ll
want to keep an eye on insulin. When you have high levels of insulin, hormone
sensitive lipase which breaks down fat for energy, is much less active. In this case, if you haven’t eaten for a
couple hours you start to get really hungry because you can’t actually use any of that
fat on your body for energy. So your body fat continues to stick around
and you feel pretty crappy. Another reason behind the hunger is that high
levels of insulin block your brain from seeing the leptin signal- you become resistant to
leptin. Leptin again, is the satiety hormone. This how eating too many things, like packaged
foods or refined carbohydrates, that spike insulin levels can cause people to be hungry
and lethargic despite having so much energy stored on their body as fat. So yes Pete is fat because he ate too much
clearly, “I’m not fat!” but the reason he ate too much has to do with his hormones. A calore is a calorie in the way a gram of
money is a gram of money. A kilogram of one hundred dollar bills is
going to affect your bank account much differently than a kilogram of 1 yen Japanese coins. For some people, calories have worked as a
decent rule of thumb for them, but Tracking the macronutrient composition of your food
is going to give you much more insight into how your food is affecting your body than
just calories. There’s still a lot more to be said about
macronutrients, but you can notice their effects pretty quickly if you pay attention. Does a breakfast high in fructose and glucose
like orange juice and a big bowl of cereal with flavored yogurt leave you feeling hungry
and tired by the time you get to work? And does a meal high in good fat, protein
and fiber like salmon, eggs and vegetables make you feel any different?

100 thoughts on “Do Calories Matter? Is a Calorie a Calorie? (Science of Weight Gain)

  1. One thing I really should have clarified near the start:
    ★The muscle burning I talked about occurs if you reduce the amount of food you're taking in without significantly reducing carbohydrates. That is, gluconeogenesis (burning muscle for fuel) presents itself when you restrict calories without modifying the composition of your diet. So a ketogenic diet or simply fasting would not result in the muscle wasting.

  2. Excellent documentary in which I have observed the body changes over the years. I did follow up to reset my hormones, unfortunately, I had to take up a situation where my food was not in my control. Now that I have seen this doc, its time I find the biochemicals which are responsible for hormone fluctuation and reset it.

  3. I had to repeat the video because I loved watching the squirrel munching and not paying attention to the audio 😊

  4. Ok so I don't want to draw conclusions out of nowhere especially after watching your videos about how complex scientific studies are, but I just thought of a " hypothethis" : you said during puberty, we have more insulin, and I also know that insulin spikes can be linked to inflammation and acne, so maybe those high insulin levels have something to do with teen's acne ?

  5. I did cico while consuming enough protein and going to the gym. Result was at least some muscle lost but mainly fat. In total 37 Kilos.

  6. That's why people in Britain were healthier when we started the day on a full English breakfast (bacon, sausage, eggs, beans etc.), instead of cereals and fruit juices. Less carbs, and less gluten.

  7. Sadly im in the minority that's under weight and I don't know how to gain it I eat and then throw up. I force it to stay down and I end up sleeping too long skipping meals. Im at my wits end.

  8. One thing i never hear discussed as that as kids we're taught to over eat. How often did you get busted by your parents as a toddler and child if you didn't eat every last thing on your plate, even if you were completely packed full already? How often did your parents give up and just make you eat junk food since you rejected healthy foods "just to get something on your stomach"…then busted you for not shoveling down every last french fry? Which of course you shovel them all down so you can get the reward of cake or some other sweet for your effort. Perhaps parenting techniques are the very beginning of the whole spiral? Thoughts?

  9. I'm so glad he made this video, because I was wondering if I had lost 10lbs of bone. Whew. Now I can rest easy.

  10. Cool vid. Would have been great if you had gone on to include the macro ratios for different goals (weight loss/weight maintenance/muscle building). I know mine already but still would have liked to see it here.

  11. im sorry but the body doesn't break down muscle first it breaks down fat there Is a reason why people are so lean

  12. A Calorie is definitely not a calorie. What matters more than a calorie is where that calorie is coming from. When I was 14 I changed my eating habbits and lost 40 pounds. But when I changed my eating habbits I didn't change how much I was eating, but what I was eating. I consumed more calories after I improved my diet and yet I was still able to easily lose 40 pounds. I stopped consuming soda, which contains high fructose corn syrup and I stopped consuming fast food. I still ate burgers but I would make them at home, not have them at fast food place.

  13. Pardon me sir, What about the high-sugar diets before the exercise? If I take a load of sugar, let's say 20 gram and within 1 hours I use 80kcal during the exercise would that sugar be used or still stored?

  14. Pretty much all I took away from this video was: avoid Fructose at all costs. I would like to know how to lose weight without losing muscles (as I'm pretty proud of them), but I guess there will be a 19 minute video ahead of me waiting in the suggestion bar.

  15. Как же классное, что к Вашим видео есть русскоязычный перевод.

  16. I've heard an argument for fat storage being an inflammatory response to toxicity from certain foods. Foods which we weren't designed for creating this reaction in the body to protect from the toxins

  17. I reduced my calorie intake and actually lost alot of fat, not muscle. With no exercise. It's slow though, and like all diets, may not work for everyone.
    Intake is around 1500 a day (9-hour desk job, if you're more active, up the intake), space meals to the point you begin to feel hungry, try and avoid snacking (or get the healthier options), drink plenty of water (min 2 litre a day) or natural fruit juice (avoid artificial sugars) if you feel hungry between meals (upto 2500 calories once at weekend). This isn't to say I eat anything though. Mainly fish (avoid battered, breadcrumb), occasional grilled chicken, with spinach and plenty of fibre (chickpeas), bread is fine, and stay well within reccomended daily amounts of salt, sugar, fat, etc. Vegetarian 1-2 days a week). No red meat.
    I know it won' work for everyone, but maybe helpful to someone.

  18. The best way to lose weight is by reducing calories, weight training to gain 10-20lbs of muscle and eating a high protein, moderate carb, low fat macro profile. Reduce fat for easy caloric restriction, carbs moderate since they have lower calories and are more difficult to turn into fat and protein since it increase muscle protein synthesis to increase and maintain lean mass which in turn keeps your metabolism high and any excess protein needs to be converted to carb which then have to be turned into fat which is metabolically expensive. Make sure you also eat high satiety foods, not sugar soda, but apples, lean proteins instead of the fatty ones, potatoes instead of french fries.

  19. I disagree with most of your points. Weight loss is all calories and food satiety. Satiety is not driven by hormones entirely, it is based in food volume, how long you eat it and how much you chew it, water content. You can eat a huge salad, a protein shake and some apples and you will be full despite your hormones.

  20. Are you a Medical Doctor or a Research Scientist? I need to know so I can trust your opinions. Tbh… who are you? why should I believe you? PLEASE RESPOND

  21. Burning fat in the absence of energy is easier for the body than burning muscle tissue for energy
    So stop misguiding people

  22. fat is food if you have fat you can't die of starvation.
    your body is muscle preserving
    for energy your body uses carbs first than fat than protein
    the best way to loss fat is to stop eating.
    your body will run out of carbs in about 3 days so it will be forces to use fat for energy. which mean you will not die in 7 days without food if you're fat.
    and thanks for clarifying when your body burns muscle or i would've said something about that.

  23. Calorie is a calorie, because calorie is the unit for amount of energy, needed to raise the temperature of 1g of water to 1° Celsius.

  24. Your science is okay but you conveniently left out the protein-insulin sensativity connection and the cortisol estrogen connection. This is done purposefully to push your keto-esque agenda.

  25. It's pronounced gloocose and soocrose, so why in the world would it be pronounced anything else than frooctose?

  26. What about fiber food grown using pesticides ? Do they effect harmones ? If I am eating natural and balanced diet containing pesticides , where will it lead to ? How are we supposed to keep all those harmones balanced with pesticides in diet?

  27. This is why i choose AthleanX
    content because they actually try to help you unlike most things
    The Youtube channel is very beneficial

  28. Limit the activation of anabolic insulin, increase the catabolic glucagon. Eat less frequent. Keep glucagon circulation as long as possible through fasting.

  29. "Surely to get fat we have to eat too much" – no!! Calories in/calories out is a myth so the world can stop telling overweight people they have no self-control and are fat because they eat too much. We did not get fat because we took in too many calories!! The type of calories matter, not the number of calories – 100 calories of a brownie is NOT the same as 100 calories of kale. One will make you gain weight, the other won't. Why? Because of our body's hormonal response to each type of calorie. Lowering calories has also been found through numerous studies to lower BMR, which is exactly what you do not want to happen when trying to lose weight. Keep calories high so you can keep your BMR high (this is an automatic process btw built into the body)

    And to be clear: I lost 104 lbs through water fasting and intermittent fasting/keto – not once did I ever count calories, and any time I ate I ate until I was stuffed. A diet high in fat is necessarily more fulfilling and is delicious. I reject anyone who contributes to the idea that I got fat because I overate; I got fat as a kid because I ate junk carbs thinking I had a healthy balanced diet (see the Food Pyramid).

  30. 7:40 Narrative says that the rats were genetically-modified such that they could not use hormone-sensitive lipase but gained less weight. How so? Surely, any fat accumulated by fat cells in the adipose tissue is then essentially locked in, since it's this lipase which responds to hormones (adrenaline) in order to release fats from storage to be utilized in energy metabolism..

  31. Literally the whole of the overweight, greedy, food obsessed world need to be educated and introduced to this video. 👍👍⭐️⭐️

  32. People are nutrient starved and addicted to sugar. The food and doctrine has been weaponized to cull the population into a idiocracy of sick patients as means of scientific control. Thats why I eat mono meals and am cutting off sugar and preparing and growing my own

  33. It's true that not all calories are created equal. For example, 20-30% of the calories ingested from protein will go towards digesting that protein whereas only 5-10% of the calories ingested from carbs towards digesting those carbs. The person who eats 100 calories of protein will have actually ingested 70-80 net calories while the other person who eats 100 calories of carbs will have actually ingested 90-95 net calories. Protein is just more thermogenic than carbs.

    But all this talk of leptin and insulin and nutrient partitioning only really matters in extreme cases of morbid obesity. At the end of the day, for the average overweight person, it really is just calories in and calories out.

    If you want to lose weight, and you don't care where you're losing the weight from, just restrict your calories. It's that simple.

    But if you want to lower your body fat and maintain muscle mass, you need to restrict your carb intake, increase your protein intake, lift weights, and do cardio. Essentially, you need to modify your diet and change your lifestyle. This is pretty simple, too. But it's not something a lot of people are willing to do. Americans love fast food and video games.

  34. Making more money than you spend does not make you rich. It gives you a net gain. Whether that net gain is 4 or 400,000 dollars a month will the determine the rate at which you get rich.

  35. I don't like sweets. People think I'm like a health snob, but I just prefer umami salty and savory food. I don't like sweets especially for breakfast.

  36. Apparently some people can't apply this info in their diet, allow me to help. 

    Stop/limit fructose consumption which is a big component of most sweets which happens to be in most packaged foods and fruits(fruit juices are worse) meaning stop eating the pop tarts and bananas

    Drastically drop insulin production meaning stop/limit the non-fiber carbohydrates which is predominantly the wheat(breads, pastas, cereals, etc) and stop eating frequently because every time you eat you produce some amount of insulin, and while insulin is present-THERES NO FAT BURNING

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