The Calorie Fallacy: Why Counting Calories Isn ’t an Effective Weight-Loss Strategy
You can say one thing for Professor Mark Haub: He knows how to make a lesson stick. Haub, who teaches nutrition at Kansas State University, wanted to prove to his students that weight loss is simply about calories. So, for 10 weeks, the professor proceeded to eat an 1,800-calorie diet consisting of a Twinkie every three hours. He also dined on Doritos, Little Debbies, sugary cereal and other junk food. When he started, Haub tipped the scales at 201 pounds, which for his height was considered overweight. By the end of his snack-food spree, he had lost 27 pounds, putting him at a svelte 174. The story went viral, with the media dubbing Haub’s eating plan the Twinkie Diet. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Undoubtedly some who heard the news eagerly stocked up on the spongy yellow snacks. But Haub’s intention wasn’t to urge people to eat more Twinkies. The point, he said, was that he had consumed 800 fewer calories daily than the number needed to maintain his weight. In other words, the key to weight control is counting calories: If you take in fewer than you burn, you lose weight. It’s that simple. Haub’s message has been standard advice for more than a century. According to many experts, it all boils down to straightforward math: Calories in minus calories out. Countless millions who struggle with their weight heed this message, dutifully tracking their calorie intake. But eventually many discover that all the counting is in vain. One r...
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