February 22, 2016

Calorie Confusion

Most Westerners would benefit from eating fewer calories, and eating better food.

What if health experts are as wrong about how many calories we need as they are about our food pyramid and the types of foods that are best for us? I suspect that we have been scammed so that we eat not only the wrong foods, but also eat more food than we need.

How many calories does a person need to be healthy? It depends on the individual, and it depends on who you ask.

"Health authorities around the world find it hard to agree on how many calories their citizens should ideally consume. The US government says the average man requires 2,700 calories per day and the average woman 2,200, while the NHS (National Health Service), UK, says it should be 2,500 and 2,000 respectively. 
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations says the average adult should consume no less than 1,800 calories per day."

Below are the caloric values of the three main components of the food we eat:

1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories
1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.

A restricted caloric diet may slow aging and extend lifespan. It improves the health of a variety of species including yeast, earthworms, fish, rodents, dogs and rhesus monkeys. Why not humans too?

Scientists do not yet know if such results are applicable to us, but it is likely that eating fewer, better calories will yield health benefits.


  1. I like to subscribe to Micahel Pollan's philosophy on eating: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” By food, he means items that your grandmother would recognize as food- whole ingredients. He also means that we should moderate consumption, not too much! Finally, the focus of our plates should be on vegetables, beans, and legumes! I find that I maintain a healthy weight and outlook when I keep my diet simple instead of getting all caught up in calories, fancy recipes, or fads like paleo/south beach diet/etc.

    1. Eat good things, not too much, keep it simple, don't worry about a thing.

  2. Traditional societies such as China 20 years ago ate way more calories than people in the west. Not all calories are equal. Carbohydrates are not easily stored and are burnt off by making body heat and is called thermogenesis. The caloric density of say potatoes is much lower than cheese for example making it easier to fill the stomach. On a high carb diet most people can it as much as they want and reach optimal body weight. Alex.

    1. It is hard to know what is the right diet to eat these days. Lots of conflicting information, and of course the profit motivated lobbyists gum everything up like a clogged artery.

  3. In general I really don't trust national health institutions when it comes to food, because they base their sayings on fact and what they assume the people will be able to overcome.

    So let's say people should have less calories, and now they are at an average of 3000, the health insitution know 1800 is enough, but recommends 2500 because they know if people hear 1800 they give up and nothing will change.

    Add to this, that most such institutions are biased towards tradition, myths and lobby organisations. So being vegetarian is possible in one country, but it will kill you in another, according to tradition, myth and lobbyism.

    When it comes to health so many things plays a role. Food is important though, and I think we all should eat more real food and less (none) processed food. And plants ;) But I'm vegetarian so mega biased there. People are also very different. Some thrive on raw fruits, others on cooked roots and some on potatoes and stachy plants, some even thrive on meat and blood and fat.

    Best regards

    1. According to my taste buds and digestive system, a plant-based diet is for me. Food is our medicine, so it should make the diner feel good. Processed foods and fast food make me feel yucky. Same with meat.

      We also try to take into account what diet is best for the environment.

      When it comes to food I don't trust anyone... except Mr. Stomach and my general health.

  4. My family eats a plant-based diet. That includes my husband, my 7 year old son and myself. We went from a typical American diet to plant-based about 5 years ago and haven't ever considered going back. I was healthy before, but I really am healthier now. My son is growing and thriving and my husband is also healthier. It feels good to stop participating in animal agriculture and I love that we're causing less environmental harm than before. It's empowering to learn about nutrition and make changes that improve your life and the lives of the people you love. The new book How Not To Die is excellent as is the movie Forks Over Knives.

    - Kate


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