More Calorie Fallacies, Overeating and Weight Loss Frustration

Since I wrote my blog post about the fallacies of the calorie theory, I’ve encountered a few people who are frustrated because they fail to reach their weight loss goals on a low fat raw food diet.  The latest of these was a contributor on a raw vegan forum who posted that even though he worked out like crazy everyday and kept his fat consumption low, he wasn’t able to lose the last 20 pounds he felt he needed to. 

Clearly the calorie belief system is failing to account for these experiences, as it did mine and those of many others. I was once a chronic dieter at the same time I was teaching fitness classes everday. For years I ate under 1,000 calories per day, while expending much more. According to conventional calorie-based “wisdom”, I should have died of starvation. Yet, I never even reached my goal weight of 120 pounds.

As I mentioned before, in order for a system to be scientific, it must be reproduce-able and reliable, like the hard sciences that are used to build things. It can’t be said that it “sort of” works, or “sometimes” makes sense. A theory can only stand if it’s been tested and found to be useful in all applicable situations. Otherwise, it qualifies as a belief system.  Beliefs are not knowledge. To “believe” is to accept an idea without benefit of evidence.

When a person attempts to manage his weight, he’s really just managing his toxicity, because extra weight IS toxicity. Body weight can take years to stabilize and some people need to stay on a very clean diet for a long time in order to lose the last remaining amount of extra weight they carried as cooked food eaters.  It will happen, you just have to be patient and pay attention to your body. That’s where the truth is, and it will conflict with the information you get from people who use the calorie system. At some point you’ll need to decide which one you’re going to listen to. Many long term successful high fruit raw fooders (including myself) have had the experience of receiving unmistakeable signals from their bodies that less food is needed. This makes sense, because nature always strives for maximum efficiency. The difference between how much food is needed by a truly healthy person and one who eats a normal conventional diet is NOT small, it is significant.

It’s extremely important to overeat early in transition because backsliding is almost always the result in people who don’t. It may even be important for people who want to lose weight to overeat.  Even if this means quick weight loss must be sacrificed, staying on a path of continual forward progress is more important.  If a person eating less in an attempt to lose weight ends up eating too little to stay satisfied, s/he may lose weight temporarily but it will come back when the person inevitably backslides. 

Weight loss goals notwithstanding, there comes a time, typically 3-8 years into transition (depending on the age of the person and many other factors), when the body doesn’t need all that food and is burdened by the excess.  When symptoms of false hunger become manageable with less food or are not experienced at all, then real hunger will return as long as the person is not eating according to the calorie system, which will tell them to eat as much as they always have.  Eating according to the calorie system thus keeps people from reaching their full health potential, because it applies arbitrary standards of consumption without accounting for individual needs.  It can likewise keep people from reaching whatever weight loss goals they might have, because calorie tables typically overestimate the body’s true needs even for unhealthy people, and healthy people need even less food.  Not only that, but the healthier they get, the less food they will need.

Increased digestive efficiency is one of the great benefits of regaining our vitality.  It makes eating more incidental, shopping easier and cheaper, it gives us MORE return for LESS investment (this is what nature always strives for, after all) and it signals progress.  Digestive efficiency was an important survival mechanism that facilitated the long term success of our species, as well.  Human digestion and metabolism is much more than just calories in and calories out, as the simplistically useless calorie system holds.  As Herbert Shelton says in his article below, the human body is not a stove which must constantly be stoked.  The enormously beneficial phenomenon of increased efficiency is just one more area where the truth is at odds with conventional ideas about health, many of which are welcomed into the raw food world without being subjected to the critical scrutiny they’re due.  

Best wishes,

Flaws in the Calorie Theory
By Herbert Shelton

The human body is more than a mere furnace or fire box into which we must continue to shovel fuel. The fuel value of food is the least valuable thing about it.

A table giving the caloric values of different foods tells us merely how much heat can be produced in the laboratory by burning these foods. Such tables are fairly accurate indexes to the fuel values of the foods listed, but they are not an index to the nutritive values these foods have for you. You must digest them, absorb them, assimilate them and then metabolize them. If you fail to digest and absorb them, you certainly cannot assimilate and metabolize them. You can produce no heat by the oxidation of foods that pass out in the stools.

The amount of heat and energy required by various individuals varies so greatly with the conditions of sex, climate, occupation, age, size, temperament, etc. that food values based on the calorie standard are of no practical value. Aside from this, most of the heat produced in the body is used in maintaining normal body temperature and not for the production of energy. If health is destroyed, if the nutritive functions are impaired, to stoke up on fuel foods is not only valueless but is positively harmful. This is easily proven when we compare the results of such treatment with those obtained by the fast or by a low calorie diet which is rich in the organic mineral elements.

The burning of food in the body is a vital or physiological process and does not take place in a dead body. Food, to be burned in the body for the production of calories, is dependent upon the condition of the tissues that do the burning, a fact that is completely overlooked in feeding the sick. If the functions of the body are impaired this process is also impaired and foods that are high in fuel value cannot be properly cared for. The digestive and assimilative powers of the individual are ignored in fire-box dietetics. If energy is low, feed up the fires by shoveling in more coal.

To declare that man requires a given number of calories a day and to feed these, all the while ignoring the individual’s condition, is the height of folly. In a state of nature, demand reaches forth to supply and satisfies itself. The calorie feeders force the supply even when there is no demand or when there is lack of ability to properly care for the supply. Along with this, their standard of measuring food values wholly ignores the most important elements of the food and the further fact that not all the food elements of the food that are combustible are burned in the body. Those proteins that are used in building new tissue are not used for the production of heat and energy, even if we assume that man derives his energy from food.

It should be easily seen that a system of feeding based on the caloric or fuel value of foods must inevitably lead to mischief. And this is exactly what it has done for it invariably causes patients to be stuffed with fuel foods that are deficient in the other and more vital elements. These patients are forced to eat beyond their digestive capacity in the effort to feed them the standard amount of calories. A standardized treatment without a standardized patient is a farce and a standardized patient is an impossibility.

Dr. Claunch says, “the difference between true hunger and false craving may be determined as follows: when hungry and comfortable it is true hunger. When hungry and uncomfortable it is false craving. When a sick person misses a customary meal, he gets weak before he gets hungry. When a healthy person misses a customary meal, he gets hungry before he gets weak.”

If we follow the rule to eat only when truly hungry, those people who are “hungry” but weak and uncomfortable would fast until comfort and strength returned. Fasting would become one of the most common practices in our lives, at least, until we learn to live and eat to keep well and thus eliminate the need for fasting.