Calorie lie… Because our bodies deal with food more complex than we think

We all know that idea, which has been repeated by diets, and has been in circulation since the first known nutritional guide was published in 1890, which is simply that sticking to a certain amount of food and doing a lot of exercise inevitably leads to weight loss. All you have to do, then, is stick to a calorie-counted diet in order to stay fit, but if you do not lose weight and reach the ideal body, it just means that you do not have the will to do so. Thus, decades have passed and we have traded different diets, yet obesity is still an epidemic in the countries of the world, and a cause of chronic ill health for many, so do all of them just lack the will?

A sandwich of brown bread raises the sugar

During his hospital shift, Tim Spector, a geneticist and professor at King’s College London, usually ate the same lunch; A tuna and corn sandwich made from whole wheat bread, he spent about ten years of his life following this system, and while he was working on his “PREDICT” project, which measures the metabolic response to different foods in healthy people, he measured the effect of his snack on the level of glucose in the blood, to be surprised As a result. There was a sharp rise in blood glucose and lipids after lunch that, in the long term, can cause diabetes, obesity and even dementia. (1)

This prompted Tim Spector to conduct extensive research involving a number of twins with the aim of tracking how human bodies differ in the amount of energy they extract from a particular food. Surprisingly, the twins showed differences in the speed of metabolism of the same meal, which confirms the powerful role that microbes in our gut play in controlling our health. (2)

Alfredo Martinez, director of the Precision Nutrition and Heart Health Program at the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies, explains that there is no one-size-fits-all diet, as each of us interacts with food differently, and while most nutrition experts agree on the need to follow a calorie-controlled diet to lose weight, Most people don’t respond in the same way to eating more protein, for example, or less fat, and some are suited to eating less sugar and others need to exercise more often, all due to the different metabolic pathways of energy in our bodies. (3)

Calorie lie..don’t believe the numbers

Calories are a measure of the usable energy that the body extracts from food, but labels that contain accurate information about calories for products, give you security and make you feel like you have control only once you determine the number of calories for what you will eat, do not tell you everything in fact. Calculating calories Thermal temperature is not possible, as it can change by 200% from the number written on the label according to several factors such as the method of cooking, for example, in addition to the fact that these labels often do not accurately address the nutrients we get from food.

Otherwise, Tim Spector tells us in his book A Tablespoon.. Why is Everything We Know About Food Often Wrong? Writing the number of calories may be a cause for panic for those who suffer from eating disorders, and he confirms that the human relationship with food is a very complex thing that cannot be reduced to the number of calories. (4)

The book “A tablespoon.. Why is everything we know about food often wrong?”

The same thing is confirmed by David Ludwig, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, noting that the idea that health scientists have long told us about the number of calories, and how weight gain simply occurs when the calories entering the body are higher than it needs, while our weight decreases when Eating fewer calories than our bodies need is simply an inaccurate idea, as we cannot accurately track our daily calorie intake. If it were that simple, we should follow a low-fat diet, which is the most calorie-containing element other than protein or carbohydrates, but this does not happen; The Mediterranean and Paleo diets (which are low-carb diets) are more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets.

What explains weight gain or loss is that calories do not affect in the same way, and the body responds differently to calories depending on their source, and it uses the energy it extracts from different foods in several ways, not to mention the complex system of genetic, hormonal factors and neurological inputs that interfere with Metabolism, which ultimately means that food is not just a set of fixed calories.

For example, there are some foods rich in fat, such as nuts and avocados, that help in losing weight and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease even though they are full of calories, while other foods full of refined carbohydrates such as white bread and biscuits have a role in weight gain regardless of their calories Because it raises the level of insulin in the blood, it sends signals to your body that it needs to store fat, thus increasing body fat, while avoiding refined carbohydrates and eating more protein and healthy fats helps control the stimulation of fat storage. Processed and cooked foods also give the body more energy than raw food does. Although they contain the same amount of calories, the body is not able to fully extract energy from uncooked food as it does with the food itself after cooking. (5)-(6)

Personal Nutrition.. know exactly what you need

The experience of standardized diets, then, has proven that they do not suit all bodies. In addition to that they require a lot of careful planning and a strong will, people interact differently with the same foodstuffs, so that it can be said that a meal that seems healthy to one person may cause another person with diabetes or obesity. or heart disease.

Rather, a single meal may be appropriate for a person at one time of the day, so the metabolism occurs in an ideal way, and inappropriate at another time, and this depends on the pattern of eating, sleeping and exercising, in addition to what is more important, which is the role of the microbiome; That colony that includes tens of trillions of microbes that live in the human intestine, and transform food into different substances according to the body’s needs. (7)

This is exactly what the field of personalized nutrition depends on, a relatively recent discipline that depends on developing nutritional guidelines for each individual that take into account the different genetic and environmental factors and their lifestyle, based on predicting how each individual will respond to food according to these factors. In this system, algorithms are developed that can accurately predict, after combining the effects of genes, age, diet, germs and level of physical activity along with environmental factors such as temperature and pollution level. (8)

In fact, the field of personalized nutrition, which adapts to the characteristics of each individual, has been hiding in scientific laboratories around the world for nearly a decade, and experts in this field believe that it will witness a major revolution soon. Over the past decade, we have witnessed a clear rise in the number of companies Which provides personalized nutritional advice to individuals through algorithms that calculate body fluids, glucose and lipid levels, vitamins in the blood and microbiome through genetic analysis, and applications that help people make good food choices in restaurants and markets have also increased. (9)

Do we really need personal nutrition?

Personal nutrition appears to be the food of the future, but it requires a lot of data, and there are still many gaps in scientific knowledge in this field, as well as large budgets. direction, efforts that have already begun in European countries.

The Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Food in Spain provides a classification of the population according to their eating habits, and through dozens of questions about the medical history and the history of family diseases, it can determine the metabolic age of the individual so as to provide him with information that enables him to individualize his diet, and England today has the highest rate in That’s the science. About 70% of adults use a personalized feeding service that’s free, but cost isn’t everything. (10)

Not everyone really needs personalized nutrition, says Jose Maria Ordovas, director of nutrition and genomics at the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Human Nutrition Research. It is more beneficial to focus efforts on those for whom such regimes do not fit, and to come up with dietary recommendations that work for them. (11)

In an article published in the Nutrition Bulletin, Javier Gonzaleth, a researcher in the Department of Health at the University of Bath, said that only a select minority of individuals really need a more personalized approach to nutrition according to several criteria, including features of the genome or microbiome, and what they tell us The results of these criteria are the probability of developing diseases, so that they can be avoided through nutrition, and a better health outcome, and other than that, there is no justification for the generalization of personal nutrition for most people. (12)

Genetics, then, may explain the vast differences in people’s responses to diets, but for the most part we still don’t know why. But as José María Ordóvas preaches, it may be more feasible to create types of diets for groups of people, likening it to “clothing sizes,” so that we will eventually be able to develop nutritional guidelines that are appropriate for every human on the planet. (13)



  1. What suits you makes me fat
  2. Spoon-Fed by Tim Spector review – food myths buste
  3. What suits you makes me fat
  4. Spoon-Fed by Tim Spector review – food myths busted
  5. You Asked: Are All Calories Created Equal?
  6. Why most food labels are wrong about calories
  7. What if everyone’s nutrition was personalised?
  8. Personalised nutrition: What makes you so special?
  9. What if everyone’s nutrition was personalised?
  10. What suits you makes me fat
  11. Ordovás: Precision nutrition is the future, but more knowledge is needed
  12. Personalised nutrition: What makes you so special?
  13. What suits you makes me fat

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