Why The First Law of Thermodynamics is Utterly Irrelevant

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There are many adherents to the Calories In/ Calories Out (CICO) theory that constantly bleat about “It all comes down to the First Law of Thermodynamics”. The First Law of Thermodynamics refers to a law of physics where energy cannot be created or destroyed in a closed system and is ALWAYS true. It certainly holds true in the complex world of human physiology, but is completely irrelevant. What the CICO people think it means is that if you reduce calories intake, you must lose weight. Of course, it means nothing of the sort. So, let’s see why. The main reason is that the most important part of CICO is NOT the Calories In, but the Calories Out and the Insulin. Here’s our representation of the human body.

You have Calories In, Calories Out and Fat Storage. This is, of course the fatal flaw of CICO – there are two compartments where calories can go after being eaten, (Calories Out and Fat), not one. It is not a one compartment problem. CICO adherents believe you take calories in, subtract calories out and whatever is left over is dumped into fat stores like a potato into a sack. So, they believe that fat stores are essentially unregulated. Every night, like a store manager closing its books, they imagine the body counts up calories in, calories out and deposits the rest into the fat ‘bank’. Of course, nothing is further from the truth.

Instead, every process in our bodies is highly regulated. Whether we burn calories as energy or whether it goes towards fat storage is tightly controlled by hormones. As we eat, calories go in. Calories go out as basal metabolism (used for vital organs, heat production, etc) and exercise. Fat can go into storage or it can go out of storage.

What controls this decision? We can all agree that the main hormone involved is insulin. As we eat, insulin goes up. Notice that insulin does not respond to calories equally. Some calories (white bread) will raise insulin a lot, and others (butter) will not raise insulin at all. This should have been the first clue that calories are not the common language of weight gain/loss. The body has no receptors for calories and has no way of measuring calories.

Consider two foods that are equal caloric values – a plate of cookies versus a salad with olive oil with salmon. As soon as you eat, the body’s metabolic response is completely different and easily measured. One will raise insulin a lot, and the other won’t. So why do we pretend like the body cares about calories. That’s like saying that foods that are blue are the same – whether they are blueberries or blue raspberry Gatorade. The body doesn’t care about color, so why would I? In the same way, the body doesn’t give two sh**s about calories, so why should we? However, the body DOES care a lot about the hormonal response to the foods we just ate.

Since we are eating more at that moment than can be used by the body, some of this food energy gets stored away, either as glycogen or fat. This is insulin’s role. It stores food energy through the processes of glycogen synthesis and de novo lipogenesis (making of new fat in the liver). CICO5

When we stop eating, insulin starts to fall. This is the signal to first stop storing food energy. As we continue to fast (say, during the night), we need to move some of this food energy back out from our stores to power our metabolism. Otherwise, we would die during our sleep, which obviously does not happen.CICO2

OK. So far, so good. Now let’s put some numbers on it. Let’s assume we are not gaining or losing weight, but have 100 pounds of fat we’d like to drop. Assume a daily average intake of 2000 calories. This is what it will look like.

Since Calories In and Calories out are balance, and Fat is neither going up or down, everything is in balance. The body wants to burn 2000 calories to stay warm and feel good. So what happens when we decide to lose weight? The CICO people say that all you need to do is reduce your calories in. You don’t need to worry about what you are eating because ‘it all comes down to calories’. So, eating a calorie reduced, low fat, high carbohydrate diet, insulin levels stay high, but calories comes down. They do this on shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’, but this is the exact same strategies that all the universities, and governments use too.CICO7

What happens?

You reduce your intake to 1200 calories per day. Since insulin remains high, you cannot get any energy from fat stores. Why? Because the dietary strategy you are using (Caloric Reduction as Primary) only concerns itself with reducing calories, not insulin. Remember that the high insulin is telling the body to store energy as fat, or at a minimum, not burn fat (inhibits lipolysis).

So, as you reduce your caloric intake to 1200 calories in, the body is forced to reduce it’s metabolism to only 1200 calories. No energy is available anywhere else. This is precisely what happened on the Biggest Loser as seen in the study featured in the New York Times. This is also precisely what happens during any caloric reduction diet. That is why these diets are doomed to fail. Studies of this strategy estimate failure rates at 99%. Notice that the First Law of Thermodynamics is not being broken in any way. It is irrelevant.

The lower metabolism means you feel feel cold, tired and hungry. Worse, the weight eventually plateaus and then as you decide that it’s not worth it, you start to eat more, say 1400 calories thinking that it’s still not as much as you used to eat. Hunger hormones are increased because the body wants to burn 2000 calories.  You are only taking in 1400 and burning 1200, so weight starts coming back. Sound familiar?

Well, that was fun. What happens when you use dietary strategies that instead target insulin? Low carb High Fat (LCHF) diets, ketogenic diets, and the ultimate insulin-reducing strategy, fasting all target the reduction of insulin. What happens?

Since the point of these diets is to lower insulin, stored food energy (fat) can be broken down to power the body. Since the body wants to burn 2000 calories a day, it burns 1000 calories of fat and 1000 calories from food. What we would predict is that basal metabolic rate remains the same, appetite is decreased and weight is steadily decreasing. Guess what? That’s exactly what is shown in studies. In Dr. David Ludwig’s study and Kevin Halls new study, ketogenic diets do not have this dreaded metabolic slowdown.

Remember, the body actually wants to burn 2000 calories a day. If insulin is low, then the body can get its energy from fat stores as well as food. Anecdotally, hunger is decreased with ketogenic diets. Many people say they only want to eat 1000 calories because they are full. But they don’t feel the same metabolic shutdown because the body is getting the other 1000 calories from fat. Notice that no Laws of Thermodynamics are being broken.

The effect is even more striking with fasting. I can only recount my experiences in the Intensive Dietary Management program. We’ve put over 1000 people on fasts of various durations. Many of them drag themselves since they have no energy. After fasting, their energy is massively increased. But despite this, they report that their appetite has shrunk to barely 1/3 of what it was previously. They often tell me they think their stomach has shrunk.

In a sense, it has. But if people are eating less because they are less hungry and then losing weight, that’s GREAT. Because we are now working with the body, instead of fighting it. With caloric reduction diets, people constantly fight their hunger and deny themselves food. Here, people are turning away food of their own volition. Because we lowered insulin.

Notice once again, that the First Law of Thermodynamics is not being broken. There are no calories created out of thin air. It is simply irrelevant to human physiology. I studied biochemistry in university and took a full year course on thermodynamics. At no point did we ever discuss the human body or weight gain/ loss. Because it has nothing to do with thermodynamics. If anybody mentions the ‘first law of thermodynamics’ regarding weight loss, you, too will know that they are just not very smart. Or maybe they just haven’t really thought about what thermodynamics actually is.

Nutritionists on the other hand, especially the calorie counters, can’t seem to say enough about Thermodynamics. They have ‘science’ envy. They desperately want the quantitative and theoretical backing of hard science and therefore pretend that human physiology is like physics, with its hard rules and laws.

New flash, guys. Physiology is physiology and physics is physics. Don’t mess the two up. The CICO people are Fregley. He is the character in ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ who is the unpopular kid who wants desperately to be liked. CICO people desperately want the approval of hard science that they are willing to pretend that physiology is physics. Sorry buddy. Just because you have physics envy, doesn’t mean you get to make up stuff. …. (I was going to put in a very crass and crude joke about the Freudian concept of penis envy all for the sake of a few cheap laughs. Against my better judgement, I have removed it.)

You also can’t use the Heisenberg uncertainty principle for your bowel movements. The Bernouilli Effect doesn’t apply to the urine stream. Physics is physics. Physiology is physiology. Deal with it.

Sometimes I’m asked the question about the difference between fasting and calorie reduction. Doesn’t fasting reduce calories? Yes, but that’s not the point. Fasting is about reducing insulin. This allows you to release some of the stored fat energy so that you don’t need to or even want to eat so much.

What drives me crazy is this. The Biggest Loser study proved that cutting calories is a terrible, horrible, no good and very bad strategy, virtually guaranteed to fail. So, in all these articles talking about the Kevin Hall study, what do the ‘experts’ suggest instead? Cutting your calories!! The only thing worse are those ‘experts’ who claim that that the key is not to define success by weight loss. Win the Diet Wars by not even trying. Buddy! People want to know how to lose weight. Success is defined as weight lost, not loving your body the way it is. As Justin Bieber would say – Go Love Yourself. I wanna know how to lose weight. That’s what The Obesity Code is all about. If you want to know how to lose weight, first understand what causes weight gain.

What happens when you recommend a diet that is guaranteed to fail? When you might get a huge worldwide epidemic of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Unfortunately, all the nutritional authorities all belong to the same CICO cult, and we are all paying the price for their stupidity. You thought Scientology was bad. CICO is even worse. Let’s consider these simple facts. We’ve recommended cutting calories for weight loss for the last 40 years. During that time, we’ve had a huge obesity epidemic. All the science suggests that caloric reduction as primary is doomed to fail. Senior researchers, academic physicians and virtually all health associations continue to recommend it. They are sheep, constantly bleating. Count your calories! Cut your calories! It all comes down to calories! Anybody who believes otherwise doesn’t believe in the universal laws of nature! I have physics envy!

One article interviewed ‘leading obesity experts’ and came up with these tips. Exercise regularly. Cut calories by avoiding high fat foods. Eat breakfast. Count calories. So, in other words, they would give the exact same advice that we’ve been giving for the last 40 years even as the obesity epidemic overwhelms our health care system. Hey, Julia Belluz, the 1980s called, they want their diet advice back.

O…..M…..F…..G….

The lunatics are running the asylum – and they all believe in the First Law of Thermodynamics. In discussing the physiology of obesity, the First Law of Thermodynamics is not wrong – it’s irrelevant.

 

2017-10-19T12:35:33+00:00 114 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Fung is a Toronto based kidney specialist, having graduated from the University of Toronto and finishing his medical specialty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He is the author of the bestsellers ‘The Obesity Code’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’. He has pioneered the use of therapeutic fasting for weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal in his IDM clinic.

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114 Comments on "Why The First Law of Thermodynamics is Utterly Irrelevant"

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Jin
Guest

Thank you Dr Fung, reading this article made me realise why our appetite goes down on LCHF. Is it because of these sleazy shysters who have ruined whole nations health just so they can live lives of luxury?

In effect we have been treated like a bunch of lab rats.

Read this and get angry, very angry.

https://freetheanimal.com/2016/05/enrichment-promotes-everything.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=freetheanimal

michael pollard
Guest
With regard to Bernoulli effect. I fly microlights and am obsessive about flying. I did very well in my exams, but failed the question on where lift comes from, as the commonly held belief is that air moving over an airfoil’s upper surface moves faster than the lower. The often used example is blowing air over a sheet of paper, which will rise QED, Bernoulli proven! This is still being taught and almost entirely wrong. Simply, aeroplanes fly by squashing enormous quantities of air downwards equal to the weight of the ‘plane. Bernoulli contributes about 2%. Doubtful? Stand under a… Read more »
Gary
Guest

Agreed. Same with ‘the world is a globe’.

Leah
Guest

Thank you Dr. Fung, I too have been confused on the difference between fasting and CICO, but you have made it clear and I find your writing so entertaining! I get so excited when I see a new blog post, thank you for your time.
I read an article online that said gastric bypass may be the new recommend treatment for diabetes and am so bummed because really, all these people are getting with this surgery is forced fasting and that is why it works so well!

seebrina
Guest
Leah- I agree, I just watched several of the Bypass doctor shows and felt terrible for those people that had their insides messed up with surgery and then they all were spouting how healthy they were eating afterwards. Cereal with skim milk, lots of fruit and orange juice, low fat yogurt, white rice and on and on eating numerous times a day. I was just so upset. One show however did have a disclaimer at the end that this ” Was the medical advice that was still appropiate in 2012″. So there was alittle hope there that they know now… Read more »
SherriB
Guest
Hi Leah, I had gastric bypass surgery. However, I am definitely following the ketogenic lifestyle and am extremely healthy! I refuse to be on the silly diet the “nutritionist” recommended for me. Low cal, low fat…give me a break. I’ve done my best to educate her and she just won’t hear of it. So, I’m on my own. Sort of. Thank God for this blog and the many other ketogenic/LCHF pages on the internet, Facebook, etc. While I’m swimming in very uncharted waters, I will not abandon this way of eating for the rest of my life. I’m still trying… Read more »
Sue
Guest
Dr. Fung, As usual, a concise, clear message. Given that we have been pounded with the calories in/calories out theory for most of our lives, it’s hard to let go of that, but what you have said is absolutely correct. For 4 months now, without fail, my husband and I have done a LCHF diet. When you add fat to your diet it tastes so good and is so satisfying. We often fast, short and longer ones, but when we do eat it’s a celebration of food!! And butter…. and olive oil! We feel energized, satisfied and happy. There is… Read more »
Liz Ingratta
Guest

Seriously Dr. Fung! I love this post!

I’ve been preaching about you since I discovered you four months ago; your site and your book have changed my life.

This post is a fantastic explanation of how our bodies use and store fat in a way that the layman can understand. I’ve shared it on FB and have bought more copies of your book to give away to people that I know have been struggling with diabetes and weight issues for years.

Bravo! Please continue doing what you are doing, saving lives!

Al
Guest

Indeed, the lunatics are running the asylum… again, thank you Dr. Fung for disproving CICO… what is good about LCHF is that you don’t need to count calories, you just eat real foods…

Alex Kamas
Guest

LOVE IT!!! This flat out works people. I just love your writing. I learn a lot and laugh a lot. “Physics envy” …. hahahaha. So great.

Sue
Guest
Restless Leg Syndrome I do want to tell everything this. I have had severe restless leg syndrome since I was 12 years old. (I am 53 now) I have tried every natural remedy known to man through the years but I have had to resort to medication to get any relief. Never presuming that this diet would help this condition, you can imagine my astonishment as I have achieved almost complete remission. Since we know that this condition originates in the brain, the only thing I can conclude is a fat-fueled brain is the “cure”, at least for me. Given… Read more »
Chris
Guest

Sue,

My wife suffered terribly with RLS until a blood test revealed she was severely anemic. She began taking iron and in a matter of days was back to normal. She has also since joined me on this LCHF journey and dropped 25 lbs.

Sue
Guest
Chris, I’m so very glad she was able to get relief!!! Supplementing with iron was one of the first things that I did, and that did bring some relief, but not nearly enough. Before beginning this diet sitting for more than 2 hours would result in having to walk around. I hadn’t gone to the movies in years. Long car rides were awful and plane rides? Yea, I just drugged myself. Like I said, I can’t imagine I haven’t tried everything!! And I certainly never even gave it a thought when we started this diet… it was all about my… Read more »
BobM
Guest
My opinion follows. Reducing insulin resistance (IR) via low carb and/or intermittent fasting (IF) corrects, helps, prevents, and/or cures: Tinnitus overactive bladder skin tags heart disease idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy/heart failure cancer blood pressure blood chemistry (eg, LDL, HDL,….) If you want to fritter away some time, do searches for these. For instance, type “insulin resistance tinnitus” or “insulin resistance tinnitus study” and see what you get. All of the above are related to IR. Personally, I think high carb diets (and eating too many times per day) CAUSE IR, which then CAUSES all of those conditions (and probably many more).… Read more »
Sue
Guest
BobM, Thanks for the reply! And I did do a little pecking around, this is from the Mayo Clinic: “Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus only you can hear. This is the most common type of tinnitus. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. It also can be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or the part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways)”. So there are cases of Tinnitus that might be caused by a disconnect in the brain!! And I agree wholeheartedly with you….. high carbs and… Read more »
Ari
Guest

Yes. IR is the mother of all non-communicable diseases. See the work of the father of syndrom-x, Gerald M. Reaven, and dr. Joseph Kraft, the writer of Diabetes Epidemic and You.

Walt
Guest
I don’t know about the tinnitus and overactive bladder. As I do not have OAB I, honestly, can not comment on that 1st hand. However I do have tinnitus which occurred long before I had insulin resistance. Further I’ve been fasting? for about a week now with one meal per day of between 700 and 800 calories ingested between 5pm and 8pm. That leaves 21 hr/day of fasting. I still have tinnitus and, after a brief drop in weight, I once again stalled. So, I fast 21 hrs/day everyday initially dropped 6 lbs but for days now, I just oscillate… Read more »
Brandy
Guest

I’ve had this problem too and have come to realize that it takes time to heal insulin resistance, which is likely the reason we stall out for a while. Your morning blood sugar numbers are still higher than ideal, I think, which would indicate that your body is still trying to heal itself. My fasting blood sugar numbers have been in the 70’s, when I’ve had them taken at the doctor’s office. Hang in there! 🙂 You’re doing great!

cj
Guest
studies have shown that calorie cutting also lowers insulin. does it not lower it in large enough swings to be effective? as in lower overall inulin but never below a certain required base line? no one ever seems to address this point. any diet lowers insulin if calories are lowered. and as far as I know you can not lose weight if your calorie input remains the same as before attempting to lose weight. studies have shown that. if I am weight stable on 2500 calories of a sad diet and I switch to 2500 calories of lchf I will… Read more »
Annlee
Guest
cj – Insulin response is complicated – see the work of Dr. Joseph Kraft (http://www.thefatemperor.com/blog/2015/9/7/kraft-summary-re-post-for-those-who-missed-it is a good place to start). Once the body has adapted to constant glucose challenges, reverting to a normal physiology is not instant. It takes time, and – for some people – the path back may be unavailable. As Peter (http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/) has often said, “it depends on how broken you are.” It also helps to remember that the body is not a bomb calorimeter – we don’t actually “burn calories.” We use the chemical energy liberated by certain processes to drive other processes necessary to… Read more »
Walter Bushell
Guest

If you know accurately the calorie content of a substance chances are that it is not food, because as you say it’s probably a highly manufactured substance.

Brandy
Guest

Great post! Very informative!

alan
Guest

I don’t have a study on losing weight while eating LCHF at maintenance calories. But Sam Feltham at SmashTheFat.com did some over-eating studies. He barely put on weight eating 5,000 calories of LCHF for 3 weeks, but put on 18 pounds eating the same calories of HCLF for 3 weeks. Search Youtube for SmashTheFat

AY
Guest

This is possibly incorrect based on what Dr. Fung is saying. If you switch to a LCHF diet, maybe your basal metabolism will run at it’s actual desired level of 2700 calories due to the reduction of insulin. With that being the case, your diet of 2500 cals will now cause weight loss because your body will use 200 cals worth of fat from your fat stores. This particular line of reasoning still meets the first law of thermodynamics, and has been experienced by MANY LCHF dieters!

PhilT
Guest

“if I am weight stable on 2500 calories of a sad diet and I switch to 2500 calories of lchf I will lose not one ounce of weight.” – that’s what the CICO hypothesis says. You should test it for real and see.

When Kevin Hall did something very similar in a metabolic ward study recently the participants did indeed lose weight, and there was a measured increase in calories out.

Cue “it was only water weight” whingers…

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

Kevin Hall’s recent study showed a temporary increase in energy expenditure of ~100kcals/day on the ketogenic diet due to a temporary increase in LBM/FFM oxidation (i.e. loss) during fat adaptation. It went away once the subjects were fully in ketosis.

That’s a metabolic DISadvantage. 😀

deirdra
Guest

Most who recommend calorie cutting also recommend eating less fat, therefore more carbs and eating 4-6 times a day “to keep your energy up”. This INCREASES insulin levels and keeps them up all day, turning people into fat-storage machines. Eating 1000 cals/day LCHF IFing is not metabolically the same as 1000 cals/day of high-carb mini-meals.

Melinda
Guest

Jason, can I just say you are my hero?

Thank you for all you are doing to improve the health of everyone!

Quick question to you and to everyone else: How do we get our kids more aligned with this way of eating? Yes, we control what comes into the house, but once they become teenagers and have a bit of pocket money, they tend to eat at fast food restaurants and guzzle soft drinks like water. Any ideas?

Thanks again!

Sue
Guest
Sadly the way the world eats is completely different than how “we” eat. I know as an adult my husband and I have a hard time eating correctly and well when we eat out. And you and your kids do have to live, to some degree, in the real world. We love to cook so this way of eating hasn’t been too difficult for us, but with young children it might be a little more difficult. And yes, once they are older they will sometimes get fast food… pizza and pop. There really isn’t much you can do other than… Read more »
Amy
Guest

Teenagers are old enough to understand the “science” good and bad. The more you learn, the more you can help them learn the reasons. I have 5 children, two teenagers. As I understand more, I tell them (all ages, not just teens) how to make good energy choices and why. When they eat with me, they feel the difference. None of them are overweight but I still want them to make good choices (for the long-term effect) The more GOOD information they have, the better choices they can make.

Isabela
Guest
Talk to them! Every day. And set an example. Also, cook healthy foods with them. Allow them to choose which veggies they want to eat, and offer plenty of real fatty protein. Yes, for now they will still get junk food and enjoy it, but later, they will remember your talk and know what they have to do. You don’t need them to be perfect, just 80% perfect will be better than the majority of teens. I see this in my 16 yo. She still enjoys her pizza etc. but lately this happens less and less, and she tries to… Read more »
seebrina
Guest
Melinda, Yes talk to them and set an example. My daughter just turned 17 and I’ve been trying to educate her for years. And you are right as soon as she has a chance she buys all kinds of crap, they actually nicknamed her ‘snacks’ at work due to her munching. And she is putting on weight much to my chagrin. Yesterday she said she wanted to try the bulletproof fasting since her working out isnt working. So she must have been listening to me since i’ve been talking about it alot lately. And she sees the weight falling off… Read more »
Juan Daniel Reich
Guest

I agree completely.

What I find to be, by far, the toughest part of all this is that the lunatics running the asylum way, WAY outnumber the sane people. So the “battle” is really tough. Specially for a “regular Joe”. I can cite studies, refer to books, web sites, blogs, videos…. the CICO/Lunatics are a determined bunch and the cognitive dissonance bought to people by 40 years of (bad) advice is really hard to crack.

Samuel
Guest
Your book is outstanding. I would give it a 15 out of 10. Five years ago, not knowing anything about the issues associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, I started reading. I to, have spent a considerable amount of time with thermodynamics – closed systems (remember physical chemistry) and open systems, those power plants you use as analogies. What has always astounded me is the attempt to use thermodynamics as a frame work to model the human body and the disease referred to as obesity. What hit me initially is that the people invoking the first law, are not really… Read more »
Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

I’m also a retired (Electronic) Engineer. You’re wrong about thermodynamic efficiency making a difference.

Ref: http://nigeepoo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/nonequilibrium-thermodynamics-and.html

PhilT
Guest

I wouldn’t waste a click on that bait. That “proof” is laughable.

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

You said it, so it MUST be true lol! Self-praise is NO recommendation.

Try refuting what I wrote. Use the top 3 levels of http://jimbuie.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c5a0553ef015390755e91970b , eh?

Ellen
Guest

Dr. Fung, could you please address the fact that the Biggest Loser contestants do, in fact, lose weight while they’re on the show? CICO is working for awhile, anyway, isn’t it? I understand that the long-term effects are terrible, but the short-term seems to work.

deb
Guest
Ellen, I’m sure Dr. Fung will answer soon, but I wanted to give you my perspective on it, since I have been through it (not the show, but the real life, self-inflicted version!) Yes, when you first start severely cutting your calories, after eating really bad for years, what are the first things you give up? Soda? (HFCS, sugars) Fast food (Carbs, sugar)? Cookies and candy (More carbs and sugar)? So, inadvertently, you have started to lower your carbs without intending to. The weight starts to come off. You go to the gym every day and kill yourself in aerobics/step/Zumda… Read more »
honeycomb
Guest

He has answered that question. Here on the blog and in his book.

Try doing a little research .. i.e. reading right here on this very blog for your answer.

Hint: All diets cause weight loss. Not all diets are followed 100%. And, CICO will go to a heavier weight after those few months to less than a year later.

Ellen
Guest

Hint: I have read it, thanks. If calories truly don’t matter at all, not in the very slightest, and it’s all insulin-related, then there should be no weight loss whatsoever. None. If you eat 50 calories of white bread every hour during the day, you shouldn’t lose even an ounce of fat. But people do. It seems to me that the hormonal explanation, though critically important, is as oversimplified as the CICO explanation. So oversimplified that it doesn’t add up.

Kevin
Guest
I have never heard or read Dr. Fung saying that “calories truly don’t matter at all, not in the very slightest.,” rather, the control of fat storage is dominated by insulin levels, not simply calories in minus calories out. In this particular blog, the overall process is described in a simplified schematic manner. Your white bread example seems to assume that Fung means that insulin is a simple switch turning off fat burning entirely. Of course that’s not the case, and I don’t see that idea in the article. But current science is clear that the body will react very… Read more »
deirdra
Guest
Biggest Loser also involves several hours per day of exercise (often while being screamed at or shamed), and exercise lowers insulin. When contestants return to work and normal life, they don’t have the time to exercise all day long to reduce their insulin levels, so their low-calorie carby foods raise their insulin levels, don’t satiate them, so they get hungry several times a day, making it difficult to avoid straying from the diet. They are doomed to fail unless they take a job or replace their hobbies with ones that involve exercising several times a day – not for CO,… Read more »
Walter Bushell
Guest

The point is not to lose weight; the point is to lose *fat* a frequently ignored detail with devastating consequences.

AFAIK, one of the frequent disasters is the cycle of reducing by calorie restriction which causes loss of muscle followed by a weight regain period when the diet is abandoned, followed by another diet from a worse position repeat ad infinitum or death.

Amy Berger (@TuitNutrition)
Guest

YOU ARE THE BEST.

That’s all that needs to be said.

Desmond Govender
Guest

Thank you Dr Fung. Interesting, so does that mean if i am fasting i am trying to reduce insulin levels but since i am still taking my insulin “shot” (although reduced) i am defeating the purpose of fasting?

regards
Desmond

Sue
Guest

Desmond,

NO! By fasting you will eventually be completely off your insulin! Just stay the course…. strict LCHF and IF. Someday you’ll be completely drug free…. slow and steady wins the race! Enjoy the journey!

Wenchypoo
Guest
CICO people desperately want the approval of hard science that they are willing to pretend that physiology is physics And science has come back to shoot them in the foot time and time again–so much so, that the U.S. dietary guidelines have loosened their stranglehold on fat and cholesterol, and the new nutrition data labels now must reflect the amount of ADDED SUGAR (but looses the “fat from calories” line). W#ho knows? Maybe one day, they’ll allow imported yogurts that aren’t made with FF milk and loaded with sugar (like they have in Britain and Greece). The ship is turning,… Read more »
deirdra
Guest

Sadly, some CICO proponents have been pushing for listings on nutrition labels saying how long you would have to walk/run to “burn off” the calories of one serving. Hopefully they will not prevail.

Walter Bushell
Guest

What was it it would take 3 hours of mountain biking to work off a Big Mac. Now with a large soda with fries and dessert perchance an 8 hour day?

The absurdity should be obvious. You’re going to have to work out like Durian Rider to keep the fat from accumulating. Most people can’t fit a full time job 56 hours a week into their schedule.

Debra Lapiers
Guest

Dr Fung,
Thank you for finally setting things straight. I only hope that more people will read your articles and start healing.

Yvonne Homewood
Guest

Thank you Jason Fung!!! This is exactly how I lost 10kg & gained it all back again incl. 2kg more, the low fat/high carb reduced calorie diet I was on (I was marathon training at the time) didn’t just mess with my body, it also messed with my mental health badly. I’ve been Keto for 15 month now and it changed my life forever, my weight is stable and more importantly my mind is better than it’s ever been. Your article was a lightbulb moment for me ?Awesome stuff ??

Lucylaw
Guest

With every weekly post I understand a little more… Thank you so much, Dr. Fung.

Dev
Guest

Please watch following u -TUBE presentation by one doctor in India :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58bTGfry2z4

diglaji
Guest

Very informative blog. I am interested in high fat low carb diet. One thing I did not understand why insulin is high on a 1200 calorie diet. Is it so because of the quality of food eaten. Would it still be high if you ate 1200 calories in high fat low carb diet?

Martin
Guest

diglaji: The insulin will get low in a high fat-low carb diet. The case of high insulin will be if it is a high carb-low fat one….

Pete
Guest

Hahaaaaa. Love your sense of humor. You are a Superhero!

Noel Spanier
Guest

“First Law of Thermodynamics refers to a law of physics where energy cannot be created or destroyed in a closed system and is ALWAYS true.” The irrelevance is quite simple. We are, and live in an environment of dynamic complexity, that is to say, an OPEN System (Peter Senge,1990). Thank you Jason for your revolutionary science and breaking out of the closed system paradigm (Thomas Kuhn, 1962).

Kuhn, 1962, THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTFIC REVOLUTIONS.
Senge, 1990, THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE .

Bo
Guest

I cannot wait for your new book on fasting

Bo
Guest

Dr. Fung,
You stated in your clinic you have not seen any difference between female’s and male’s fasting. What about someone post Menopause?

Joan Day
Guest

Thank you, from this senior -who can not get enough of your “brilliance, and great humour” . You are are a “Canadian Treasure ” , we are lucky to have you– your work can not go unnoticed now with the internet–please keep the bogs, books and podcast coming–you are helping so many people out there in “cyber land”–you may not even know how many you are helping…

palo
Guest

1st law of thermodynamics in diets:

calories in (CI) = calories burned (CB) + fat gain (FG) + muscle gain (MG)

Therefore, CI – CB – FG = MG

Thus, I can get muscular by doing nothing. 😉

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

You’ve made a fatal mistake – there are two compartments in the body for storage, not one.

There’s Fat Mass AND Fat-free Mass (a.k.a. LBM), and they have completely different energy densities. Ref: http://nigeepoo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/bray-et-al-shows-that-calorie-is.html

Therefore, your information is invalid.

leavemealonegoaway
Guest

Dr Fung talks extensively about the 2 compartment storage issue in many posts and videos.

It would seem the ‘fatal mistake’ is making an inflammatory comment on a blog where one obviously has done no reading.

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest
In that case, “You have Calories In, Calories Out and Fat Storage. This is, of course the fatal flaw of CICO…” is a strawman argument, as CICO doesn’t claim that at all. Don’t expect me to read everything that Jason Fung has written, and I have zero intention of watching any videos. If Jason Fung is denying that calories count, how come he’s using a calorie-based approach to weight loss i.e. fasting? Are you going to refute Bray’s study which clearly shows that weight (FM + FFM) change is directly proportional to the amount of Energy Surplus, or are you… Read more »
Martin
Guest
From Bray’s: “Changes in Body Composition The weight gain in the low protein diet group was 3.16 kg”(FM+FFM)”, about half that of the other 2 groups (normal protein diet: 6.05 kg”(FM+FFM)”; high protein diet: 6.51 kg”(FM+FFM)”.” “The rate of weight gain”(FM+FFM)” in the low protein diet group was significantly less than in the other 2 groups ( P <.001)." quote:"…which clearly shows that weight (FM + FFM) change is directly proportional to the amount of Energy Surplus, or are you just here to troll?" The energy surplus was equal in the three diets, but the low protein diet (less insulin… Read more »
Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

You’ve missed reading the info’ in “The Energy Balance Equation”.

As LBM/FFM has a much lower energy density than FM, 3,500kcals of FM weighs 1lb, whereas 3,500kcals of LBM/FFM weighs 5.7lbs. LBM/FFM changes distort weight changes, and the Low Protein group had a very different (lower) LBM/FFM than the other 2 groups.

I should have added the proviso “provided that LBM/FFM doesn’t deviate significantly from the norm.” My bad.

honeycomb
Guest

But you expect us to listen to what you (re: not listening or reading Dr Fung) say / write.

You’re a legend in your own small little mind / world.

PhilT
Guest

Bray ? LOL. Only 2/3 of the additional calorie intake appears as stored fat or fat free body mass in his overfeeding study. Explain that.

Composition of diet counts – the low protein diet in the Bray study gave significantly different body composition and energy expenditure outcomes despite the same level of additional calories.

ie “a calorie is not a calorie”

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

Do you have reading comprehension problems? I made it perfectly clear that WEIGHT (FM + FFM) change is proportional to the amount of Energy Surplus. I made no claims about FM change, FFM change or anything else, other than the fact that low protein intake is bad for gaining/retaining FFM.

Nobody is claiming that “a calorie is a calorie” where body composition, health, well-being etc is concerned other than you lot, so you can take your strawman and shove it where the sun doesn’t synthesise Vitamin D.

Wood
Guest

and what happens is you eat a 1000gr carbohydrate containing vegan diet?

People says you drop weights. What about insuline in this case?

Steve
Guest

Greetings Dr. Fung: another great post. Thanks. Also nice interview with Robb Wolf. The one thing I was hoping was that you two would talk a bit more about fasting and kidneys or CKD as he has posted an excellent article on same.

As I’ve mentioned before here many other fasting websites warn against fasting with reduced kidney function. For me personally when my ha1c is low my CKD improves.

I hope to get your take on this when convenient. Again, BIG THANKS for all you write, film and do. Your work is cherished by many. THIS is true medicine!!!!!

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest
For what it’s worth, I’m not claiming that Low-carb/keto diets don’t work, as I successfully used the Atkins Diet to lose 28lb when I was Insulin Resistant (IR) back in 1997. I managed to reverse my IR in 2008, so I can now eat a varied diet based on whole, minimally-refined animal & vegetable produce with occasional treats and be lighter than my lowest weight on the Atkins Diet. IR has many possible causes and reversing it should be people’s No 1 priority as it’s bad for health, but I guess you already know that! There’s information on how to… Read more »
honeycomb
Guest

This twice you’ve placed your blog linkbin a post .. feeling neglected .. you act more spam than a expert.

honeycomb
Guest

link in .. not linkbin .. darn fingers & smartphone.

Nigel Kinbrum
Guest

If you had a blog containing all your evidence, you’d link to it.

As nobody on here has anything of any value to offer e.g. refutation of my evidence with better evidence of your own, I’ll leave you to your echo chamber.

I was hoping for some feedback from the organ grinder rather than his monkeys. :-/

honeycomb
Guest

Here’s your feedback .. insulting us for refusing to follow your spam link / marketing trick isn’t gonna get us to click on your click bait link .. there’s your feedback.

Lucylaw
Guest

For what it’s worth, I’m not going to any blogspot titled “nigeepoo” for any scientific advice 🙂

joe
Guest

Hey dude, I went to your website and you look like the pillsbury doughboy. Your dietary advice is as valid as a homeless man giving a lecture about how to become a billionaire. 😉

leavemealonegoaway
Guest

Imitation is a sincere form of flattery in life.

In the blogosphere, similar can be said about dedicated trolls…they validate a post by haranguing in the comments section, while a) admitting they have no idea what the site is about and b) promoting their own page.

This thread rocks by any measure 🙂

BTW, remember what Carly Simon said re ‘is about you’…

honeycomb
Guest

Glad you noticed that too.

Steve
Guest

I think everyone in this “Nigel thread” really needs to chill out. Name calling, etc. is never the right thing to do. I’d bet Dr. Fungi and many here have no issues with differing views being offered up in a respectful manner.

Sadly, in many ways, the Internet has both dumbed us down, lowered our attention spans, and allowed us to lose simple manners.

Relax, everyone! Thanks!

leavemealonegoaway
Guest

Agreed. Best plan is to completely ignore people who go out of their way to be inflammatory. They feed off of the reactions.

I promise to mind my manners and offer zero chow to this kind of poster. Thx for the reminder.

Steve
Guest

Sorry…Dr. Fung, not Fungi (damn auto spell)!

Mary
Guest

Dr Fung, I am a 5,7″ 57 year old woman who weighs 130lbs with normal blood sugar. Is IF appropriate for me to lose 10 lbs?

Jin
Guest

Mary many people over thousands of years have fasted, not just people with weight or health issues. People within the normal weight range have 30 or more days of reserve fuel.

George Henderson (@puddleg)
Guest

Why didn’t the physics teacher marry the biology teacher?
Because the chemistry wasn’t right.

A real joke found in a joke book, but obviously refers to the unhappy relationship between the desperate CICO-paths and the thermodynamics nerds.

Nina
Guest

I agree with Joan – I believe Jason is a “Canadian treasure”!!!!

Theresa Craven
Guest

I agree with Nina and Joan….and I think he is a Fun guy too !!!

Kim Hammond
Guest
But what if you are diabetic. Fasting glucose number was 24 when tested for the first time, Metformin and glycoside have it down to 9 on a good day and I consider that my norm. But can a diabetic really fast? Even as suggested in your book. I am lucky to get an appointment with my doctor once a month with the wait lists here so “careful monitoring ” is not likely. Does fasting not just increase the numbers as if you were fasting for a glucose test? Am I too focused on the number not the issue? I loved… Read more »
Jin
Guest

Hi Kim,
Lots of people here are diabetic, myself included. I have seen numbers like yours in the past. Before starting a fast on 2/1/16 my fbg was 17. During my fasts i had fbg as low as 3.5 without any medications at all. For the last couple of weeks I have not put any restrictions on the carbs I ate or on sugar and no medications either. This morning my fbg was 7.1. I still have a way to go, I was just testing how I had progressed.

matthew
Guest
I’m sorry but this article is not correct. The First Law of Thermodynamics (FLoT) simply states that Energy is neither created nor destroyed but only changes form. The article is misleading. Every calorie of energy can be accounted in every system but, in animals, the path that energy takes is dependent on upon the physiology. Throughout the entire article the author states how the FLoT is not broken. So if the law applies all the way through, how then is it irrelevant? People unfortunately tend to not read entire articles nor do they look at the research that people cite… Read more »
honeycomb
Guest
Matthew .. I have a degree in Nuclear Engineering. I have had Heavy Thermo training in College and in the Navy and now as a Commercial Nuclear Operator. I guess I am what you would call an expert. Don’t try this at home 😉 I am also a jock. You’ve probably heard of those smart active types. I “are” one. I have no problem with the article. In fact maybe you could do some further research with a book called “slimology” by Sam Feltham. It’s a short read .. like less than an hour if you read quick. Enjoy
AJ
Guest

I understand that the first law of thermodynamics is still preserved in a low insulin setting with the fat in storage making up for the remainder of the calories OUT, keeping energy output constant.

Question:

Are we intentionally keeping “calories IN” on the low side by fasting?

In that case, how is is this model different from the CICO (or CRaP) model?

AJ
Guest

Never mind, I think I answered my own question by reading some more of this blog.

The answer, kinda, is here

https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/caloric-reduction-vs-fasting-part-9/

The above link cites studies comparing fasting (intermittently) to chronic caloric restriction. Both groups tend to lose the same absolute amount of weight.

The way I understand it then, is that the key to weight loss is still in ingesting less calories. It’s just a matter of doing it intermittently versus chronically. The former lowers insulin without lowering your basal TEE (and burns fat efficiently) while the other supposedly keeps you at risk for further insulin resistance and dropping your TEE.

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[…] приложение. Это очень хорошо объясняет в развёрнутой статье на сайте Intensive Dietary Management канадский доктор Джейсон […]

Turtle
Guest
I agree the human metabolism is not working as simple as CICO. However, even this approach leads to short term weight loss. That’s why shows like The Biggest Loser seem to work. The problem is to keep the weight off as shown many, many times. Ketogenic diets and intermittetent fasting might not have this problem but the article doesn’t link to any studies that show longterm (+5 years) weight loss with these kinds of weight reduction diets. Maybe there are none, yet. But then it would be too early to make such claims. Furthermore, the article more or less implies… Read more »
Matt B
Guest

This article does a great job of explaining the mechanism of weight loss through insulin control. However, all the 1st law of thermodynamic bashing is juvenile. In fact, this article does a good job of explaining how the 1st law of thermodynamics is upheld in a complex system where there are two sources of energy (body fat+ food) and an adaptable system that lowers energy output proportional to the input. I think it would be a better article if the author tried to reconcile the two concepts.

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[…] via Why The First Law of Thermodynamics is Utterly Irrelevant – Intensive Dietary Management […]

Kevin Talmadge
Guest

I think the flaw in this argument is that people with a weight issue generally eat MORE than their metabolic requirement, so cutting calories makes sense for them, and these people also have a low muscle/adipose tissue ratio, so resistance training is essential.

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[…] превышал поступление. Можно прочитать на эту тему статью доктора Джейсона Фанга, почему первый закон термодинамики не работает. […]

EB
Guest
All discussions regarding nutrition and the laws of thermodynamics should acknowledge a few facts that often get confused. Outside of nuclear reactions like fission or fusion, energy is conserved and mass is conserved. Most importantly, since human metabolism only involves chemical (not nuclear) reactions, no energy is converted to mass, and no mass is converted to energy. If you gain weight, it’s because more mass has entered your body than left your body. How much does your mass increase if you eat 100 g of almonds with 600 Calories? 100 grams. How much mass do you lose if 100 grams… Read more »
Julie
Guest

How long does your metabolism take to restore itself after beginning IF after being ruined on CICO?

Aaron
Guest

Dr. Fung,

I am confused about this model. You say that caloric reduction isn’t the answer but in one of the models above you show that 1000 cal of calories in but 1000 cal of fat burning will lead to 2000 cal of calories out. Isn’t that a basic caloric reduction diet? I do believe in insulin reduction but sounds like caloric reduction is also part of the solution as well.

Thanks.

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