Are All Calories Created Equal?

This is what I found in my mailbox yesterday.  Of course, the adorable baby and sad headline caught my attention.  The article is a bit long so I thought I would fill you in on some of the key bits.

Written by Gary Taubes, the article takes issue with the widely popular belief that we get fat when we have an energy imbalance. To put it simply, when “calories in” exceed our “calories out.”  He refers to a doctor in the 1930s who had come to America from Germany and was “startled” by the number of fat kids she saw.  This was in New York City during the Great Depression when 6 in 10 Americans were living in poverty.  Refined grains were, and still are, the cheapest calories.  Even though there wasn’t enough food available, the prevalence of refined sugars and flour was the problem.  (And still the problem today)

For over a century we have been fighting obesity by trying to eat less and move more.  We have also always believed that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.  If you are eating 1800 calories a day and you want to spend them all on 3 packs of Snack Wells 100 calorie packs of cookies, a Big Gulp of Coke, a  2 slices of pizza, and a snicker bar, well, that’s fine, just stay within your 1800 calories and you won’t gain a pound.  (obviously, this is not healthy and promotes disease but this article is about obesity, not overall health)

BUT, what if a calorie from an avocado or a leafy green is not the same as a calorie from a slice of pizza?  What if the calories act differently inside your body?  What if a refined grain calorie makes your fat cells get fatter but other calories don’t?   The author believes that this theory has been around for decades and can be found in many medical textbooks but has been “largely ignored” by the establishment.  This nutrient-fat-hormone interaction is something I firmly believe in and is fascinating to study if you’re a health geek like me:). It is interesting to think about the politics involved in changing the food pyramid and doing away with that huge base of grains and cereals.  What would the corn lobbyists do if all medical advice began turning people on to leafy greens and away from grains and sugars?
Through my schooling I have learned over 100 dietary theories.  “Theories” are just that, theories.  Meaning, what works for one person may not work for the next.  This particular theory may not be for everyone but I think that for anyone struggling to lose weight it is worth a good try.  If you have carefully counted calories and wondered why the weight isn’t coming off, or maybe you have hit a plateau, refined grains may be the issue.  Try eliminating them for a week and see what happens.
I’m writing this on a plane to Florida for a few days with my husband. (Thank God for my wonderful parents who will step in to care for my kids and give me this little break! ). I’m going to cut out all grains for one week starting next Monday and see if I can lose these last 5 pounds that seem to be hanging on for dear life.  I’ll let you know how it goes but I’d love the company if anyone wants to join me!
Peace and greens,

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