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Is a Calorie Really a Calorie?

When comparing low-carb vs high-carb diets, to lose body fat, is a calorie really a calorie?

From personal observation, I find I can lose more weight on a low-carb diet, while eating more calories, juxtaposed to a high-carb diet.

A lot of people argue if calories are controlled, how you arrange macronutrients shouldn’t really matter.

I am thinking there is more to it than this, and maybe low-carb offers some type of hormonal advantages.

What do you guys think, there seems to be a lot of different opinions on this.

I think calories are an important guideline. Macronutrients are much more important, IMHO(granted overall calories are in control). I feel like I can lose weight easier on low carb diets as well.

I think peoples metabolisms, body type, BF%, and genetics play a major role in determining what type of macronutrients work best for weight gain or loss for each individual person.

Personally I hate micromanaging my own diet, and I don’t count calories. I experiments with different amounts of foods and food types and see how it affects my body. Makes bodybuilding much more fun for me.

IMO, the only difference between the two plans is the amount of calories that you can take in.

The caloric threshold may be higher on a low-carb plan, but if you go over that higher limit, a calorie will act like a calorie and you will gain weight (maybe at a comparably lower rate).

When you are aiming to drop fat, the difference in the hormonal reaction is of more importance, than when aiming to build muscle.

Depending on your particular metabolic environment, you may do better on one vs the other.

No

S

no. The body reacts differently to a calorie from saturated fat vs monounsaturated vs omega 3’s vs trans fats, as one example.

Ultimately, when losing or gaining weight it all comes out to caloric defecit vs surplus, but the composition of those calories will have a great effect on your results. A caloric defecit of lean meats and healthy fats (EVOO, fish oil, etc) vs saturated fats from cheeses and deli meats is one of the biggest mistakes I see lots of low-carb dieters make.

Will a caloric defecit from mostly saturated fats still lead to weight loss? yes. But will it be as effective (or healthy) as if you balanced your fat intake sources? probably not.

I agree, when trying to lose weight, it ultimately comes to creating a calorie deficit.

The law of thermodynamics states, energy in vs energy out.

However, what I am not sure about is whether maintenance calories is the same on a low-carb vs high-carb diets. From my personal experience, I find I can eat more on low-carb, but I don’t know if it was just my imagination.

I am thinking there is more to it than a calorie is a calorie.

A two part Berardi article on this topic. It’s a few years old, but definitely still worth the read:

In my opinion, the most important factors are that your daily requirements of protein, EFAs and various micronutrients are met and your caloric intake is consistent with your goal. Peri-workout nutrition can make a difference as well.

Beyond that, I believe some people will do better on a specific macronutrient breakdown than others depending on various factors. This is more an issue of fine-tuning, though.

[quote]michael2507 wrote:
In my opinion, the most important factors are that your daily requirements of protein, EFAs and various micronutrients are met and your caloric intake is consistent with your goal. Peri-workout nutrition can make a difference as well.

Beyond that, I believe some people will do better on a specific macronutrient breakdown than others depending on various factors. This is more an issue of fine-tuning, though. [/quote]

x2

go eat a bowl of table sugar each day for a month and then report back to us

[quote]cyph31 wrote:
go eat a bowl of table sugar each day for a month and then report back to us[/quote]

and what, may I ask, provoked this well thought out comment?

Nope, just like a mole of carbon atoms and a mole of nitrogen atoms isn’t the same, a calorie from cheetos and a calorie from beef isn’t the same.

They’re just standards of measurements.

100 calories of steak != 100 calories of whipped cream.

Your body responds to different macronutrients differently. Protein does not have the same affect on insulin as carbs.

Yeah read the Berardi articles. Also here is more research which supports his theories

[quote]That One Guy wrote:
Nope, just like a mole of carbon atoms and a mole of nitrogen atoms isn’t the same, a calorie from cheetos and a calorie from beef isn’t the same.

They’re just standards of measurements.[/quote]

exactly. A Calorie is not a Calorie. It is a statement people use to apply laws of physics to the notion, and to remove any possible other belief.