Muscle and Brawn Forums

Muscle and Brawn Forums (
-   Nutrition, Diet and Supplements (
-   -   John Kiefer vs. Lyle McDonald (

BendtheBar 08-29-2012 12:54 AM

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.

BendtheBar 08-29-2012 01:01 AM

Adding this quote regarding the debate:


Originally Posted by MongSquat
The fact that every huge physique on the Olympia stage has been put there using heavy training, calorie in calorie out diet approaches and steroids escaping everyone?

Or the fact that the best strength athletes in the world follow little to no diet regime outside of eating 3 square meals.

Steroids and training > diet. Unless you want to be lean then diet is all that matters.

Shorts 08-29-2012 08:37 AM

Well, MongSquat sounds like an idiot, no offense to anyone.

Also, Kiefer is making my mind spin with all of his energy terms and relations, and I am a chemical engineer haha. They both bring up good points.

I don't believe that a calorie is just a calorie, but there isn't enough understanding with the body to understand how everything is tied together which Kiefer mentioned. I think both him and Lyle make good points though about it, but this is always going to be a debate until we actually understand every bit of our systems.

Tannhauser 08-29-2012 09:08 AM

This is the sort of debate that I'll promise myself I'll take time to digest (no pun) and then don't get around to it.

Quite apart from the science, it's fascinating from a human perspective. Lyle is - by his own admission - a very spiky character, who doesn't suffer fools gladly. He's always decrying other people as idiots. Makes his scientific expertise a selling point and every article on his site plugs one of his products.

Then Kiefer, who comes across as a relentless self-promoter, who also is fond of dismissing other viewpoints as stupid and uneducated. Again, makes his scientific expertise a selling point and plugs his products at every opportunity.

Both cogent, persuasive, intelligent writers.

Science, egos, and business interests at war - its Guru-geddon!

Fazc 08-29-2012 09:34 AM

Aside from the fact they have both produced good results in clients, I think this does bring up an interesting theoretical implication relating to this thread:

Kiefer has gotten good results with a lot of clients, however he's done that by what is essentially a reworking of Lyle's materials (TKD/CBL and CKD/Carbnite) and according to Lyle now he lacks a science base and furthermore it was pretty clear that he wanted to avoid addressing Lyle's comments there.

So with that in mind and the thread I linked, what do we think of Kiefer?

BendtheBar 08-29-2012 09:56 AM


Originally Posted by Tannhauser (Post 272138)

Both cogent, persuasive, intelligent writers.

Science, egos, and business interests at war - its Guru-geddon!

Yes sir. I tripped over this debate last night and stayed up far too late. Don't come across heavyweight battles like this every day.

BendtheBar 08-29-2012 10:15 AM


Originally Posted by Fazc (Post 272145)
Aside from the fact they have both produced good results in clients, I think this does bring up an interesting theoretical implication relating to

Are you referring to not only having the book smarts but the body and lifts to back it up? I'm a bit dense this morning so I want to make sure I understand where you are going.

In the reading I did last night it seems Kiefer took existing info, tried it and reworked it based upon personal experience. At least this is what I took away from his articles on intermittent fasting.

So I was left wondering which came first, the chicken or the egg. I haven't read enough on Kiefer to find out yet. Perhaps it was a synergistic meeting of fasting failure and knowledge increase that lead to tweaks.

I guess my question would be: did he tweak the diet and then find the science to back it up?

Fazc 08-29-2012 10:23 AM

From my perspective, Carbnite is a rehashed version of Lyle's Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. Carb Backloading is a rehashed version of Lyle's Targeted Ketogenic Diet. Lyle's versions have been out for well over a decade.

I'm not a massive fan of Lyle or his internet persona but you have to give the man props where it's due, it's no wonder he's taken issue with Kiefers comments.

What I'm referring to with Kiefer is that if Lyle is correct and Kiefer doesn't really know what he's on about then Kiefer has the results but a lot of what 'his' work is based on, wrong. So what does that make him exactly in relevance to the other thread?

I don't know too much about Kiefers IF experiences, I just know him as the Backloading guy. This wasn't in relation to IF it was just in relation to the comments and the history of the these types of keto diets.

SeventySeven 08-29-2012 10:40 AM

I am not a fan of Lyle, i have never bothered to look into his methods with the way he conducts himself and the fact that he doesnt even lift(John does) has made me always overlook him. I am all about guys who wake it to the trenches, throw all the science you want at it, i am about the blood and sweat put forth to prove the science.

BendtheBar 08-29-2012 10:54 AM


Originally Posted by Fazc (Post 272169)
I don't know too much about Kiefers IF experiences, I just know him as the Backloading guy. This wasn't in relation to IF it was just in relation to the comments and the history of the these types of keto diets.

Gotcha. I wasn't trying to bring fasting in to the discussion. I was merely referencing his starting point. My apologies.

My only reason for bringing fasting up is because it seemed from the article that Kiefer had tried several ways of dieting, but was unsatisfied, and made modifications. This leads us right back to the possibility that Kiefer stumbled upon something that worked for him, did research, and reverse engineered it.

I stress "possibility" because I have no idea when he started his research. It does appear though that his diet failings were done so flying somewhat relatively blind compared to what he knows now. This is why I am curious about the chicken and the egg issue.

Over the years I've seen a lot of lifters find something that works and then take that ball and run with it, as if it was the magic secret. It's not uncommon from this point to see this magic secret reverse engineered. Ah, this is why it works. Study X and Y.

Again, not saying this is necessarily what Kiefer did, but it certainly seems like a possibility. I reserve the right to be wrong.


Originally Posted by Fazc
What I'm referring to with Kiefer is that if Lyle is correct and Kiefer doesn't really know what he's on about then Kiefer has the results but a lot of what 'his' work is based on, wrong. So what does that make him exactly in relevance to the other thread?

Sorry, that link was directly to DW's quote, so I was confused. After re-reading I realize you were referencing the thread in specific and not his quote.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:22 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.