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Challenging current nutritional notions

Challenging current nutritional notions

There’s been alot of talk about that a calorie is not a calorie, that certain food combinations should be avoided and that certain nutritional timings are important. But i am skeptical. Although in my mind, for example, there is no doubt that e.g. carbs PWO are important for glycogen resynthesis and that protein has a higher thermogenic effect (because the nitrogen has to be removed per the urea cycle), i still don’t understand a few things:

Almost all dietary manipulation has to do with insulin. Certain foods/food combinations/nutritional timings are said to have a bigger insulin release than others, so more of the energy in the food ends up begin stored as fat. Following this reasoning would mean, just to name an example, that eating X calories from donuts (to name something considered not ‘clean’ food) makes one fatter (of loose less weight) than eating the same number of calories from vegetables (considered ‘clean’). How can donuts be more fattening than vegetables when the number of calories are the same?

Don’t give me the “the bigger insulin release stores the energy in the adipocyte”-story. In the end it doesn’t matter where the body gets it’s energy; from stored fat, from glycogen or from circulating nutrients. Although this might matter from a performance point-of-view, it doesn’t from a fatloss point-of-view. Last time i checked it’s just as easy to burn 1000 calories from stored fat as it is from glycogen.

Could it be that eating vegetables is more thermogenic? I think not to a significant degree (maybe the fiber takes a bit more processing and it might require more cheewing, but this would not be significant, IMHO).

Explain to me why ‘clean’ food is preferred (not considering performance issues, psychological issues, health issues and differences in quantity and quality of protein, just considering the fatloss issue). Explain to me why it is a problem that high insulin causes food being stored as fat. After it is stored as fat, the fat will simply be retrieved from the adipocyte as soon as the energie is needed.

The body is very efficient in managing it’s energy sources; if there is a caloric deficit you loose weight, if there is a caloric surplus you gain weight.
Oh well, maybe i’m just an old fashioned calorie-counter :slight_smile:

(BTW, this is my first post. But i didn’t just signup for this one post. I’ve been reading here for about a year or so and i thought it would be fun to start posting.)

“Explain to me why ‘clean’ food is preferred (not considering performance issues, psychological issues, health issues and differences in quantity and quality of protein, just considering the fatloss issue).”

why would you ask a question and disqualify virtually all answers in the same sentence?

you’re not looking for answers. you’re looking for people to agree with you or to just cause trouble.

Let me explain why i excluded those considerations.

I said not considering performance issues because somebody might say: “i prefer clean food because it tends to not give me light reactive hypoglycemia”. That’s cool, but would not be an answer to my question. I’m just not talking about what diet is best for athletic performance.

I said not considering psychological issues because somebody might say: “clean foods fills me up more, so it’s easier to stick to my diet”. That’s cool also, but also not an answer to my question. I’m not talking about how easy it is to stick to a diet, just how effective it is on a calorie-for-calorie basis.

I said not considering health issues because somebody might say: “clean tends to have more vitamins”. Cool, but i’m not talking about vitamins.

Not true, i just want to start an informative discussion. I truly don’t understand the entire reasoning behind certain nutritional idea’s. Sure, i have my own opinions about this, but if somebody makes a compelling argument i’m definitely willing to change my mind.

I think you answered why clean food is preferred in your 'not considering… ’ condition.

Purely from a fatloss stance(the key word being ‘fatloss’) sure you can lose weight by eating less, but if want to lose fat and spare muscle, then a calorie is not a calorie.

Related question:

If calories are not calories, then what happens to the extra energy? If I eat 700 veggie calories, and burn them all off, but eat 500 donut calories and store 100 of them…where did the 300 calories difference go? All talk of insulin aside, what, physically, is going on? Does the body get warmer after eating veggies? Does it not absorb them? The energy has got to go somewhere…


I was under the impression that if you ate n calories, where n was low enough for you to start losing weight, then the likelyhood is you’re going to lose muscle mass as part of that weight.

If you eat n calories, but with enough protein, you are less likely to lose as much muscle mass.

…which serves as an answer to the ‘but why don’t I just do a long run?’ question that women ask - “look at long distance runners, they’re not fat” …but then you point out whether or not they want liz mcColgan’s figure, or Carmen Electra’s [or equivalent] - guess which one they want, although Carmen’s ‘fatter’. (I should have picked an example without plastic teats though, huh?)

this is neive, but it works as an explanation for joe average.

gotta dash, I’m supposed to be working :smiley:


What’s there to understand?
Eat +n calories, right combinations, sources and timing, train hard & right - you’ll gain LBM.
Eat +n calories, wrong combinations and/or sources and/or timing, don’t train - you’ll gain fat.
Eat -n calories, right combinations, sources and timing, train hard & right - you’ll lose fat.
Eat -n calories, wrong combinations and/or sources and/or timing, don’t train - you’ll lose LBM.

Of course it’s not as simplistic, but it shows calories ain’t all - right?

was it “appetite for construction” aritcles that had alot on stuffs on p+c p+f, and insulin?

It’s called Glycemic index, and it’s the rate at which sugars appear in your bloodstream.

Your body can only handle so many calories at once before its forced to store them in adipose tissue.


  1. Habitual consumption of donuts, oreos and other crap will decrease your insulin sensitivity with time. This means, more fat/muscle gain during bulking cycles, and less fat/muscle loss during trimming cycles.

  2. Donuts spike your energy levels and then crash you down. Unless to live like a zombie here and there during the day, and like a giggly girl here and there, I dont see the use of donuts as a healthy part of a diet.

  3. They’re empty calories. 'Nuff said.

  4. 99% of all americans already follow that type of diet, and even those who are weightlifters are in terrible shape in comparison to their true potential.

Anyhow, be my guest. Enjoy your donuts. Poor discipline and ignorance have a very expensive price. Let us know how you do.

Bigpussy, I mean Bigconan, I mean - Buffbastard cough cough

Enjoy your donuts. We’ll see you on the flip side with gains in fitness, strength, conditioning, performance, athleticism, and aesthetics far better than yours!

We’ve all seen first hand the results from a crappy american diet (we wwere all beginners right?), and the results of a structured, healthy diet.

We don’t need to explain to you why it works. There’s volumes of books, pages, cd-roms, seminars, textbooks, classes, videos - all of which you have access to - which will do a far better job at educating you that we will.
We know the answer - if you dont like it try it your way.

We’re all very curious to know how your two steps back/one step forward approach will turn out.

Very simple fact:

When you eat veggies, your body will burn more calories to digest them. Also consider they have fiber, and some of them have thermogenic effects on your metabolism (green beans and romaine have been considered negative calorie foods, with the reasoning being it takes more calories to digest them than your body gets out of them). Grapefruits have a powerful thermogenic agent as well.
Salmon, Tuna, and other foods with omega-3 fats will speed up your metabolism as well. Berardi has pointed a study where subject supplementing with 9 g fish oils saw an increase in caloric expenditure from 140-480 calories/day. Not bad. That makes fish oil a negative calorie food as well.

But really the main point is this:

If you have 250 calories to go around you may store half in adipose tissue (particularly if your insulin sensitivity is poor, likely from your donut-eating habit) and half in muscle tissue, or you can have 80-90% of all calories being used to build new muscle/replenish muscle glycogen stores, and only10-20% being stored in adipose tissue.

Your choice - a gluton’s diet and waist blubber, or a structured diet and quality mucle and performance? Your choice.

I can understand your indifference to athletic performance and possibly the psychological factors, but to discount health as a reason for eating ‘clean’ is just silly. After all, what good is losing fat (i.e., looking good naked) if your arteries are clogged and you’re lying in a casket. If this truly is your belief I certainly hope you aren’t a trainer of any sort.

If you’re just trying to stimulate discussion then my point would be that eating protein does have a greater thermogenic effect. This means that not only is this energy not stored as fat, but that it is not stored at all. It is energy that is never stored in a tissue because it is burned.

I’ll leave the insulin stuff to someone more familiar with that area.

calories in vs calories out determines weight loss

macronutrient breakdown and food sources determine if it’s mostly fat or muscle. atleast imo

Another negative point to eating those doughnuts, and any P+C+F food that consist of simple carbs, bad fats and inferior protiens is in the way your body reacts to such foods. This is going to cause the body to burn the simple carbs as fuel and store the fats that you ingested along with them. While in itself is bad, but even worse is wear it is going to be stored. Your body is going to naturally store the fat in what is called your “problem areas” (ex. waist line, hips, etc.), which is also the hardest place for you to shed the gained lbs from later.

Adamski wrote:

Please elaborate.
Ofcourse i agree that enough protein is essential to spare muscle while dieting. But you say that if you want to lose weight, then a calorie is not a calorie, please explain. Why is a insulinogenic calorie so much worse than a not so insulinogenic calorie?


Zulu wrote:

Exactly, well said! That’s precisely what i am wondering as well.


StrongLikeBull wrote:

Enough protein to spare muscle is essential, without a doubt. But besides protein, i don’t see why clean food would spare more muscle.


Digdis wrote:

I acknowledge the fact that enough protein is essential and e.g. a proper PWO meal is important to lose fat and not LBM. But i don’t see why e.g. C+F combinations or insulinogenic food would make you lose LBM instead of fat. I don’t see the mechanism behind that.


cancer wrote:

Yes, and i’ve read them all.


diesel23 wrote:

Yes, i know, don’t assume i’m ignorant just because i don’t follow the masses without questioning things.

True, but that shouldn’t be a problem, the body simply retrieves it from the adipose tissue as soon as the energy is needed. It doesn’t matter is you burn e.g. liver glycogen or fat, you wouldn’t notice the difference (except maybe when you perform a high intensity workout, but that’s only a few hours a week, for those times you would want to ensure enough glycogen is available. But this would probably only be a concern on a (very) low carb diet, without a proper PWO meal).

Ofcourse diet induced diabetes-like conditions is a no no, but you’d have to try pretty hard to get that far (especially if you’re not overweight, and are exercising). But other than that extreme condition, i don’t see the reason for this ‘obsession’ with insulin sensitivity.

A healthy individual shouldn’t have a problem handling high GI carbs. Ofcourse you shouldn’t stuff your face with it all day long, but that’s impossible in a fatloss diet anyway.

True (although definately not all ‘unclean’ foods are empty calories). Ofcourse you need to meet your vitamin/mineral/fiber/etc. requirements, but that can definitely be done with, or in conjunction with, ‘unclean’ food.

Flame alert, flame alert!!
Why do you see the need to say this? I haven’t eaten a donut in maybe 5 years! Why do you assume i have no discipline and are ignorant? Because i don’t agree with you? You know nothing about me. I’m not defending ‘my’ way of eating (because i don’t eat like that, i have a very healthy diet, thank you very much), i’m just trying to start an informative discussion.

If this turns into a flame thread (which i don’t want), don’t let anybody say i started with personal insults.

Alright, maybe donuts versus vegetables wasn’t the best example, because that fiber difference is very big. But i still doubt it requires a really significant amount of calories to process that fiber. Anybody have any hard information in this area?
Ok, maybe certain specific vegetables have some thermogenic effect, i doubt this is really significant.

Omega-3 fats are something i think is important. But that’s hardly an explanation why we should only eat ‘clean’ food and why insulinogenic food are more fattening.

Why would poor insulin sensitivity promote storing the energy in adipose tissue as opposed to glycogen? Even is this is true, why would this be a problem? (Like i said, this might only be a problem during high intensity workout and a (very) low carb diet.) Besides, do you have any evidence that in a healthy, not overweight, regular exercising individual, with a diet at or below maintenance caloric intake, eating donuts decreases insulin sensitivity? I don’t think that would be the case.
Like i said, protein is important, but aside from that, why would ‘unclean’ (insulinogenic) food build less muscle?


Kinetix wrote:

Ofcourse, ofcourse. Health is important and i agree ‘clean’ food is often better for health. (But a decent amount of not so ‘clean’ food can definitely be included in a diet without compromising health, IMHO). But that’s not the subject. I wonder why it is that, supposedly, n calories from ‘unclean’ (insulinogenic) food is more fattening (in the long run) than n calories from ‘clean’ food.


john222 wrote:

Alot of people here would disagree with this.

Like i said, protein is important. But aside from that, please explain.

I like you :slight_smile:

  • I can see where you’re coming from.
    Your healthy scepticism is a good thing.

…but I think in your last post you’ve just swung too far ‘the other way’, saying that it’s all rubbish unless he forum can prove it- Surely you aren’t claiming that you don’t think there’s any benefit to eating ‘clean’ over ‘junk’ food… ?

correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m wondering if your post is a backlash to the some of the recent posts? (I’m thinking last 12 months).

(future long rant topic: - people who don’t have enough experience quoting john berardi to people who really only need to cut out the junk food and start doing some (any) training. People with BF >20% and who haven’t trained in years being told to dive straight in with fat fast (yuck) and OVT. part of problem - T-Mag average readership training age both decreasing and type of training is diversifying…Notice how the really aspirational people on these boards offer advice that’s tailored to the recipient? )

I think the problem is that you’re right, but so are the Berardi purists. Joe average should listen to you. However an athelete who is, or who wants to be, really properly serious should listen to Berardi et al.

oh, and to add fuel to your fire my girlfriend trains/plays national league netball 3-4 times a week, eats a shockingly unclean diet and never puts a pound on.


This is a good post.

Too many people are spouting the dogma of partitioning and carb/fat sources without really being able to point to any tangible evidence.

Everyone agrees that we need enough protein to gain or maintain muscle. Everyone agrees we need our basic nutritional basis to be covered for general health.

Not everyone agrees on the whys and the wheres of where the remaining energy needs to come from. As far as I know, there are no scientific studies out there proving that something like Massive Eating works. You really need to be able to control for all other factors to come to any conclusions.

hey desil

GI is not a measurement of rate of appearance.

Hi Buff, I think you asked a good question. Skepticism is good, and the question seems quite logical to me: Everything else being equal (exercise, protein intake, etc.), why WOULD 500 calories of donut be more fattening then 500 calories of broccoli?

You noted that the key factor differentiating donuts and veggies is insulin release. 500 calories of donut is gonna raise insulin a lot higher than 500 calories of veggies (assuming someone would even eat 500 calories of veggies). According to your reasoning, even if someone stored some fat in this elevated-insulin condition, he could just burn it off later. Storing and then burning off later would equal maintenance, though, not fat loss.

If you want to lose fat, it’s a heck of a lot better to use up the calories you eat when you eat them, and not to store them and burn them off later. After consuming veggies, since you have lower levels of blood sugar and insulin, you are more likely to be able to use all the blood sugar produced by the meal for immediate energy needs and muscle cells. Then you will never have to store, and then later liberate, those 500 calories.

If you want to dig a big hole, are you going to make as good of progress if you dig 2 shovelsful of dirt out and then throw 1 or 2 shovelsful back in?

For people wanting to lose fat, the last thing in the world they need is to store more. They have already been storing more than they need.

If you want to lose fat, and therefore avoid storing fat, you want the blood sugar produced by your meals to be close to the amount your muscles (and other energy users, like your brain) can use at the time the sugar hits the bloodstream. Less than that amount, in fact, to create an energy deficit, and certainly not more.

And that’s where the importance of insulin sensitivity comes in; it determines how much sugar your muscles can take in, which is limited at any given time. The more sugar your muscles can use, the higher your levels of blood sugar and insulin can be before fat storage occurs.

So this means that the people who don’t think that insulin sensitivity is a big deal are going to be the ones with good insulin sensitivity. If your muscles willingly suck up all the blood sugar produced by a 500 calorie donut, then none of those calories will be stored as fat anyway, and you won’t see such a big-deal difference between getting your carbs from donuts versus veggies.

If this is the case for you (as it USED to be for me, alas), then you’re in an enviable position, Buff!

StrongLikeBull wrote:

Thanks :slight_smile:

Sure there are benifits, which are, IMHO, in general, but not always: more fiber, more vitamins, more minerals, good fats like omega-3, protein, etc. But as long as you are meeting all those requirements, i don’t see a reason as to why one shouldn’t eat ‘unclean’ food (pizza, french fries, donuts, krispy kremes (i don’t think we have those in Holland :D), you name it). Ofcourse you shouldn’t clog your arteries by eating tons of it, duh.

Well, there is a very closed minded view of nutrition here. Everybody just blindly follows Berardi. Don’t get me wrong, i like his articles, and i’m sure he’s very knowledgeable, but not everything he says is the ‘end all be all’ of nutrition. When was the last time there was a long discussion here about nutrition (as opposed to a newbie getting lectured on Berardi-ism)?

Berardi definitely has put out some very good nutritional information, indeed, especially for the ‘advanced’. But IMHO there are also a few things he claims but can’t prove. It’s his opinion. Read further down for more on that.


John K wrote:

Exactly! But if somebody talks about something that goes against e.g. Massive Eating, he gets flamed or isn’t taken seriously. Both are unproven theories.


And now i’m gonna throw some oil on the fire by quoting Berardi from his article where he explains why a calorie is not a calorie (or, tries to explain ;)). (http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/175app.html) This is not a flame. I’m not claiming to know better than Berardi. I’m just asking some question and trying to start an informative discussion.

But when you look up the caloric value of a food, fiber ‘calories’ aren’t included anyway, right? So this is an unfair argument.

If the calories don’t reach the cells, where do they go? Into the toilet? Why? The fiber may ‘trap’ some fats, but that’s about the only thing that comes to mind, besides this is probably not a significant amount.

Agreed! But that’s about the only thing i believe in.

Maybe people that eat high GI carbs simply eat more calories because they’re hungry faster? This is an argument for ‘a food is not a food’, not for ‘a calorie is not a calorie’.

In rats? Who were probably fed an extremely huge amount of omega 3?

Maybe the calculations were off? 10 to 20%? To quote Lowery: “The resulting number gives you his/ her TEE plus or minus about 20 percent. Yes, that’s a lot of potential error, but without a $20,000 metabolic cart sitting in your living room, it’ll have to do.” Those 10 to 20% are within the fault-margin of those scientific calculations. Or were those $20,000 metabolic cart’s used? Am i saying something really dumb now?

Why would this result in (more) weightloss? Because the simple carbs were more insulinogenic? Why is this bad? Because more is stored as fat instead of glycogen? Why does high insulin prefer storage as fat in the adipocyte as opposed to liver/muscle glycogen? Any evidence for this? Why is it so bad that it ends up as fat and not as glycogen? With no or light/moderate activity (which is >95% of your time) you wouldn’t notice if you burn fat or glycogen, right? Besides, the PWO meal(s) already assure nice muscle glycogen levels, right? So maybe insulinogenic foods don’t end up as glycogen? But low carb foods do? HAH!

Why is this preferred? Because you don’t burn it in your sleep? OK, so you may store it, but eventually (next day, say) the energy will simply be retrieved (from the muscle/liver/adipocyte), which it will because it is a hypocaloric diet. Calories in vs. calories out.

Interesting. Too bad Berardi doesn’t give a thorough explanation of this big difference.

Why isn’t there a reference list of the studies at the end of the article?

I bet that if Berardi tried, he could easily prove the opposite (a calorie IS a calorie) by finding studies about it.

I’m just not convinced and many questions remain.

It’s OK if it’s just a theory, but Berardi’s P+C&P+F theory has been accepted as proof. Hell! He even admits he doesn’t have proof for it in his most recent article. That’s cool, it’s OK for somebody to write about his opinion, but it’s been accepted as proof, which it is not. But if i suggest something that goes against Berardi’s theory, i get flamed. Big monoculture here on this forum.