The other day I watched a video promoting the Virgin diet www.thevirgindiet.com/
and the author made the argument that the calories in - calories out model is flawed. She went to liken our bodies to chemistry labs, with different foods triggering different hormonal reactions.
Personally, I don't see myself doing the Virgin Diet, there are just too many food restrictions. I have seen a lot about the benefits of cutting out dairy and so I will probably be looking at doing that at some stage in the near future. I am unconvinced that the problem is the foods themselves, and not the way that our foods are processed/ manufactured. The difference between a free-range chicken egg which is not routinely given antibiotics and one that is, is huge and you can taste it. The bottom line is the more artificial a substance is the more likely it is to be detrimental to your health, obviously, just because something is natural does not mean it is healthy. As Terry Pratchett and co, pointed out in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, there is a reason why the arsenic cellar is not on the table with the salt and pepper. But, I digress.
I think the whole analogy that our bodies are either bank accounts or chemistry labs are both incomplete. In many ways we could liken our bodies to stocks traded on a stock market, influenced by a number of factors, internally and externally. And like the different commodities have different values (the price of gold is exponentially higher than the price of salt), our body has different investment strategies for the different nutrients that come from our daily caloric intake. Excess funds are invested for a future rainy day (in the form of fat), while our most common currency is the carbohydrate which is used for immediate short trading and the protein forms the structure of our portfolio. Each of the components are essential, but just like different gold stocks might perform differently in the market, so do the different quality calories that we put in our bodies differ in their long term effect.
The calorie is a convenient way to have an estimate about our bodies process, but it is important to remember that the different caloric values are determined based on how long it took for the calorie to be burned by fire (a mechanical process). Our bodies are thermogenic. In other words, temperature plays a role in how much calories are burned by our bodies. (This is why cold water swimmers can eat more calories while still staying lean). But we also need to acknowledge that even though there are some extreme methods to increase the rate of caloric expenditure (like ice cold baths), it is far better to do things in a more sane manner.
From my point of view, there is no doubt that my body does respond differently to different types of food (chemistry lab), but the concept of calories-in and calories-out while not being completely accurate should not be disregarded either.
The more I learn on this journey the more convinced I become that bodies are neither bank accounts nor chemistry labs, but rather miraculous processes that deserve to be treated with love, and given the right fuel and maintenance.
Love and ramblings,