The End of Counting Calories
David Ludwig and Mark Epstein published the most important scientific paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association since the Watson and Cricks paper on DNA in 1953, which changed our whole way of thinking about genes. They also explained their findings in the New York Times piece, “Always Hungry? Here’s Why.”
It’s not that Isaac Newton and his first law of thermodynamics was wrong. It’s right—energy is conserved in a system. This is the whole foundation of our calories in/calories out, energy balance concept of weight loss. Just eat less and exercise more, and all the pounds will melt off.
But there is one fatal flaw in that thinking. The law states that energy is conserved in a “system.” It is true that, in a vacuum, all calories are the same. A thousand calories of Coke and a thousand calories of broccoli burned in a laboratory will release the same amount of energy.
But all bets are off when you eat the Coke or the broccoli. These foods have to be processed by your metabolism (not a closed system). Coke and broccoli trigger very different biochemical responses in the body—different hormones, neurotransmitters and immune messengers.
The Coke will spike blood sugar and insulin and disrupt neurotransmitters, leading to increased hunger and fat storage, while the thousand calories of broccoli will balance blood sugar and make you feel full, cut your appetite and increase fat burning.
Same calories—profoundly different effects on your body.