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Old 08-29-2012, 12:54 AM   #1
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Default John Kiefer vs. Lyle McDonald

In researching CBL last night, I came across this thread. Many of you may be familiar with it. Posting for discussion.

Logic Does Not Apply III: A Calorie is a Calorie

Originally Posted by Comment
^ A comment posting a link to a Lyle McDonald article. Thus begins the war...

Originally Posted by John Kiefer
The article does an excellent job of demonstrating a lack of understanding of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Triaglycerol flux through adipocyte membranes is an excellent example of a kinetic energy effect (taken into account by statistical mechanics) that can have significant impact on wasted energy without effecting thermal losses, and carbs make this process more efficient. In a nutshell, it takes mechanical energy to get fat into fat cells (or out) and carbs (insulin) reduces the energy necessary to do that. For someone with a decent amount of body fat, this can result, easily, in another 100 calories per day worth of “wasted” energy on a low-carb diet.

There are also problems of varying metabolic pathways. A recent meta-analysis (data from carefully chosen, high-quality studies pooled together for analysis) found that even when taking in all the effects listed by Lyle in his article, “diets high in protein and (or) low in carbohydrate produced an approximately equal to 2.5 kg [or] greater weight loss after 12 wks of treatment. Neither macronutrient-specific differences in availability of dietary energy nor changes in energy expenditure [including the thermic effect of food] could explain these differences in weight loss.” (Buchholz AC, Schoeller DA. Is a calorie a calorie? Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 May;79(5):899S-906S. Review.)

There are other factors as well, such as deaminated amino acids make poor material for ketone or fat production (only leucine and lysine are possibly capable of forming fat in the body), making the excess protein simply, inefficient as an energy source.

And, of course, I didn’t even touch on the changes in entropy and energy requirements needed for assembling complex molecules from simple ones. That fact that Lyle does not mention, touch upon or discuss entropy demonstrates his lack of qualifications to discuss the thermodynamics of a system as complex as the human body.

Most of these effects are far beyond the scope of this article and ignored in Lyle’s. The fact remains, as proven and existing because of an as-of-yet-unknown exact mechanism of inefficiency, that a calorie is not a calorie.

I do find it interesting that Lyle starts his article essentially saying how people who don’t understand thermodynamics shouldn’t talk about it. I agree: leave it to the physicists.
Originally Posted by Lyle McDonald
I discuss all of that in all of my articles, Keif. TEF, NEAT, all of the stuff you’re saying I ignore. If you’re going to attack me, try paying attention to the words in my articles and stop with strawment arguments. I’ve never ignored ANYTHING except dummies who can’t argue logically like yourself.
Originally Posted by Lyle McDonald
From this article

The Fundamentals of Fat Loss Part 1 | BodyRecomposition - The Home of Lyle McDonald
So try again, Keif.

I would mention that changing the macronutrient content of the diet can have a small impact in this regards. For the most part, switching out carbs and fat doesn’t do much despite what many claim. The difference in the thermic effect of food for carbs vs. fat is about 3% so for every 100 calories you switch out one for the other, you might see a 3 calorie difference in energy expenditure.

I’d note that carbs have a the advantage here with a thermic effect of 6% compared to 3% for fat. But the effect tends to be so small as to be irrelevant unless you are looking at whole scale changes to diet. Again, if you replace 100 calories of fat with carbs, you burn 3 more calories per day. If you replace 1000 calories of fat with carbs, you burn 30 calories more per day; you’ll lose an extra pound of fat every 116 days. Whoop de doo.

And while I know someone is going to bring up the issue of gluconeogenesis on ketogenic diets in the comments, I’ll only point out that the impact of this is small and disappears after about 2-3 weeks (when the body shifts to using ketones for fuel). As well, any increase in expenditure from this pathway is balanced against a loss of the thermic effect of carbs.

As well, direct research (by Brehm) shows that there is no difference in resting metabolic rate for ketogenic vs. carb-based diets; the thermic effect of food was higher in the high-carb condition. If there were a true metabolic advantage in terms of energy expenditure for ketogenic diets, someone would have been able to measure it by now. They haven’t and they aren’t going to and all of the theorizing about it doesn’t change the fact that direct research hasn’t supported the concept.

Now, protein has the biggest impact in terms of the thermic effect of food, switching out carbs or fat with protein tends to increase the energy out side of the equation but you have to make pretty large scale changes for it to be particularly significant. I’d note that protein also tends to be the most filling of all the nutrients and studies show that increasing dietary protein intake tends to cause people to eat less calories. Which is another huge confound; if increasing protein makes folks spontaneously eat less, it looks like it was adding the protein per se that did the magic. But it wasn’t, it was the effect of increasing protein on total energy intake that caused the fat loss. Like I said, a subtle confound that people tend to miss a lot.
Originally Posted by Lyle McDonald
Last comment, Keif. And unless you look at really extreme diets, all the stuff you’re prattling on about add up to about 3/5ths of jack crap in the real world. Sure, compare 10% protein to 50% protein and it makes a difference from TEF. But all of the other pathways are mostly irrelevant theoretical nonsense, adding up to nothing in the real world. With most realistic diets, any differences from any of this amount to pretty much nothing. Especially not compared to total caloric intake.
Originally Posted by Lyle McDonald
If there is such a huge metabolic advantage, why can’t studies seem to measure it, Keif? Because it’s immeasurable with current technology, it’s clearly 100% irrelevant in the real world. Hell, the carb based diet had the higher TEF here.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Mar;90(3):1475-82. Epub 2004 Dec 14.
The role of energy expenditure in the differential weight loss in obese women on low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets.
Brehm BJ, Spang SE, Lattin BL, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA.
R.D., University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210038, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0038, USA.
We have recently reported that obese women randomized to a low-carbohydrate diet lost more than twice as much weight as those following a low-fat diet over 6 months. The difference in weight loss was not explained by differences in energy intake because women on the two diets reported similar daily energy consumption. We hypothesized that chronic ingestion of a low-carbohydrate diet increases energy expenditure relative to a low-fat diet and that this accounts for the differential weight loss. To study this question, 50 healthy, moderately obese (body mass index, 33.2 +/- 0.28 kg/m(2)) women were randomized to 4 months of an ad libitum low-carbohydrate diet or an energy-restricted, low-fat diet. Resting energy expenditure (REE) was measured by indirect calorimetry at baseline, 2 months, and 4 months. Physical activity was estimated by pedometers. The thermic effect of food (TEF) in response to low-fat and low-carbohydrate breakfasts was assessed over 5 h in a subset of subjects. Forty women completed the trial. The low-carbohydrate group lost more weight (9.79 +/- 0.71 vs. 6.14 +/- 0.91 kg; P < 0.05) and more body fat (6.20 +/- 0.67 vs. 3.23 +/- 0.67 kg; P < 0.05) than the low-fat group. There were no differences in energy intake between the diet groups as reported on 3-d food records at the conclusion of the study (1422 +/- 73 vs. 1530 +/- 102 kcal; 5954 +/- 306 vs. 6406 +/- 427 kJ). Mean REE in the two groups was comparable at baseline, decreased with weight loss, and did not differ at 2 or 4 months. The low-fat meal caused a greater 5-h increase in TEF than did the low-carbohydrate meal (53 +/- 9 vs. 31 +/- 5 kcal; 222 +/- 38 vs. 130 +/- 21 kJ; P = 0.017). Estimates of physical activity were stable in the dieters during the study and did not differ between groups. These results confirm that short-term weight loss is greater in obese women on a low-carbohydrate diet than in those on a low-fat diet even when reported food intake is similar. The differential weight loss is not explained by differences in REE, TEF, or physical activity and likely reflects underreporting of food consumption by the low-fat dieters.
Originally Posted by Ryan
Mr. Kiefer,

This was an excellent demolition of a straw man. In years of reading bodybuilding/weightlifting nutrition gurus, I’ve never come across someone who thinks that 3,000 calories of cotton candy is equivalent to 3,000 calories of steak and chicken. Not one. The people who say “a calorie is a calorie” mean it in the sense that, given adequate/high protein intake, which everybody agrees is most important, adding brown rice and olive oil isn’t going to give you drastically different results than adding a plate of french fries. You seem to be saying this as well, as your “wasted energy” rebuttal involves a mere 100 extra calories burned per day. The people you believe you’re attacking in this article most likely agree with you.
Originally Posted by John Kiefer
What this article addresses is that one cannot use the equation Calories In = Calories Out + Lost Weight in the simplistic form so often recommended. Too many variables, such as efficiency and macronutrient composition of the diet, come into play making the basic arithmetic of the equation untenable without access to an expensive indirect calorimeter–and even then may not be accurate.

Nowhere in the article do I claim that weight loss can be achieved without an energy deficit. The point is how we can achieve an energy deficit when, on paper, it might appear as though we have not. We can do this by playing with the macronutrient content we eat. I also never said anything about a diet entirely of a single nutrient, like your skittles example.

Thank you for warning us before your response that you don’t understand what the article is addressing.
Originally Posted by John Kiefer

I think thou dost protest too much. You provide excellent but limited references and you do not discuss in your article entropy, nor the potential for kinetic effects which can and do exist. These difference in weight loss have been measured and, as of yet, not all mechanism have been discovered or explained. That doesn’t mean you can present one paper measuring one meal and wave your hands and say, “ha, in this time scale the difference was too small to measure, therefore, on any time scale, there must be no difference.” This is very poor logic at best. You do, I concede give a good description of the basics that fall within the first law. The problem is the existence of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

If we want to boil this down to base semantics (which is not the point here) then fine, yes, we must be able to account for ALL energy losses and transformations, including those related to kinetic effects of nutrient flux and changes in entropy of the system, (which, even in the world of physics is difficult to “define”). The point here is as I stated above in my response to Kris, we must acknowledge the fact that we can, at will, change the efficiency of the body with macronutrient composition. If you disagree with this, please provide your evidence that defies this basic law of physics.

And yes, I never said that you couldn’t use carbs in a specific way to increase thermodynamic inefficiency. This is a well known fact. As a matter of fact, I use it in Carb Nite as does every “cheat meal” type diet.

Thanks for contributing Lyle.
Originally Posted by Lyle McDonald
So I’m clear. You criticized my article on Is a Calorie a calorie when it’s absolutely clear you didn’t read word one of it. And then you dismissed my comments, clearly without reading word one of them. And you call yourself a scientist.

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