Monday, January 3, 2011


Calories do count. Your body can raise or lower your metabolism in response to a change in the total calories or type of calories consumed, but calories don’t magically disappear. Some people who either didn’t read Good Calories, Bad Calories or didn’t grasp the section titled “Energy Balance” have accused Gary Taubes of proposing a hypothesis that would violate the laws of thermodynamics, but that isn’t the case. He proposed that if hormones are telling your body to store fat, your body will listen and obey as much as possible … slow your metabolism, make you feel lazy so you don’t move as much, ramp up hunger so you eat more. All of those factors work to increase the calories in and decrease the calories out.

When insulin is high, you store a higher proportion of calories as fat, which prompts you to eat more because you run out of fuel at the cellular level. Ignore the hunger, and your body may slow your metabolism in response. If you lower your insulin level, you’ll have an easier time burning body fat for fuel. In the complete absence of insulin, you’ll barely be able to store fat at all, but other than type 1 diabetics, we always produce some insulin in response to food — and good thing, too; we need insulin to make use of nutrients. The point of going low-carb is to avoid producing too much insulin.

Some people are very resistant to becoming fat, so their bodies find a way to burn off or waste the extra calories if they over-eat. Most of us aren’t that lucky, so if we overwhelm our bodies with excess calories, we’re going to gain weight. The reason a low-carb diet works for me is that I no longer want to overeat … since I’m not storing as many calories as fat as when I ate a high-carb diet, my appetite is controlled naturally, without counting calories.

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