Bank Account or Chemistry Lab?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The other day I watched a video promoting the Virgin diet 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,
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for posting this blog!

    I just saw a program on TV where she was promoting this diet, and all I could think was, "this is just a low carb diet, plus no dairy! No wonder it's supposed to promote weight loss!"

    I know she's taking the position that by fighting inflammation we can achieve greater health, but telling people to refrain from eating virtually every grain seems just irresponsible to me. Any time a diet recommends a wholesale deprivation of a certain nutrient (e.g. carbs) or food groups (grains AND dairy) I get very suspicious. For one, it sounds like a gimmick diet, and for two, it's just not the kind of thing people can stick to.

    And if it's the lactose she objects to in dairy, why not recommend a switch to lactose free dairy products, rather than telling people they can't have dairy?

    Why not recommend organic eggs, instead of telling people they can't have eggs at all?
    2030 days ago
    have to agree, our bodies do things that are unbelievable. and food/calories make up one of the biggest mysteries there can be. why 200 calories of brocolli makes my systems work, but 200 calories of candy corn just makes me want more.
    2040 days ago
    Loved this particular rambling, Trisha. Food for thought, certainly...bit it being 3 a.m. in my neighborhood, I'm going to have to wrap it up and take it to go to sleep.

    Thanks for the thinks, may well have to visit others of your rambles!
    2040 days ago
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