I have always been a sceptic of the efficacy of calories use in how we biochemically interact with food, as I have always thought that I eat more than I burn yet remain the same weight and waist measurement. With this in mind I decided to take action on this challenging question by conducting a 21 day experiment where I ate 5,794 calories of a high fat low carb diet of natural foods to see if I put on as much weight as the calorie formula says I should. If you'd like to see my daily diet and energy expenditure please see my halfway report by clicking here.
If a calorie is just a calorie when it comes to eating food, over the 21 days I should have put on 7.3kg ending up at 92.9kg from my starting weight of 85.6kg. However, after a 56,654 calorie surplus over the 21 days I ended up putting on 1.3kg ending up at 86.9kg, a relatively large discrepancy to say the least to the tune of 6kg. I also measured my waist which started off at 79.5cm and I ended up at 3cm less at 76.5cm. Not exactly congruent with the linear weight gain and waist increase the calorie formula shows in my results graph and photos below.
To explain how our body actually interacts with food I'm going to use a rather abstract analogy but one we can all relate to and if you agree with it even demonstrate it at a dinner party. You can always watch the video at the bottom. Imagine you're doing the washing up and you're left with a drinking glass at a kitchen sink full of water with two taps and a small plug hole. The sink full of water is your fat stores with the plug hole as your energy out from fat stores and the drinking glass is your carb stores, which you drink from for energy as well.
From one tap pours fat that you eat and from the other tap pours carbs that you eat. You place the drinking glass under the carbs tap that catches and store the carbs flowing out of the tap, with the overflowing carbs being stored in your fat stores. As with any regular taps they can accumulate 'limescale' which flows from the taps into the sink and drinking glass if treated badly blocking up the plug hole, or in reality energy out from fat stores. In this case the 'limescale' coming from the taps represents biochemical damage through eating highly processed or fake foods, whether that be refined and sugary carbs or hydrogenated fat. Which causes insulin resistance, leptin resistance, liver damage and a multitude of other biochemical problems that contribute to peoples body's not working properly and developing obesity, diabetes, cancer, chronic heart disease and even alzheimer's or a combination of all these called metabolic syndrome.
As a consequence with a person who accumulates too much biochemical 'limescale' they start to rely on the carb glass for energy more and more. Over time, this now biochemically unbalanced person's energy out from their fat stores becomes completely blocked because of the 'limescale' and now they solely rely on drinking from the carb glass for energy. Having to fill it up at every given moment with refined, sugary and unnatural carbs to survive, which drives cravings as their ability to use body fat for energy diminishes and their fat stores grow exponentially, similar to the growth of a tumour.
So, when it comes to why I didn't put on weight during my 5,794 calorie high fat low carb experiment using this metaphor as a basis for how our body interacts with food, I did not accumulate any biochemical 'limescale'. The energy out from my body fat stores was not inhibited, so my body either used or "dumped" the calories coming in to keep me about the same size despite being in a 56,654 calorie surplus.
The only way to stop accumulating biochemical 'limescale' is to not eat fake foods, whether that be refined and sugary carbs or hydrogenated fat. Plus the only way to get rid of the biochemical 'limescale' that's stopping your body from using your body fat stores for energy and getting healthy again is to EAT REAL FOOD, and the 'limescale' will wash away.
Our current weight management advice is to eat less and exercise more, which in my opinion is negligent, moronic and utterly useless advice. The reason people are putting on weight and getting sick is not because they are eating too much but because they are eating too much FAKE foods. From this experience my message to health professionals around the world is to advise your clients or patients to eat less fake food and exercise the choice to eat real food more!
For me the journey of proving a calorie is not just a calorie when it comes to eating food is not over. In September I will be doing another 21 day 5,000 calorie challenge with refined and sugary carbohydrates and in January 2014 I will be doing it with just natural carbohydrates, where I will go into more detail about how our body interacts with food. My hypothesis at the moment is that with the refined and sugary carbohydrates challenge I'll put on a ton of weight and with the natural carbohydrate challenge I'll put on a little more weight than this high fat challenge, as natural carbohydrates can cause more biochemical 'limescale' than natural fats.
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