This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are All Calories Equal?

Obesity rates are rapidly rising in the USA. Why?

Many overweight people I know are distressed by their inability to lose weight. "I keep a food diary to count my calories, and I still can't lose weight!" my friend wailed not too long ago. Well, she might be mismeasuring food quantities or not being honest, but is it possible that she's right? Or should she just do a few more sit-ups before leaving in the morning?

The equation of weight loss seems so simple:

Weight Loss occurs when Calories in < Calories out.

Calories out equals basal metabolic rate + thermogenic factors with metabolism + daily activities + exercise

But is this simple formula always correct? Some experts think that all calories are NOT created equal. I'm beginning to wonder if they're right.

Beyond the calorie counting for food and exercising, the problems of "being fat" seem to revolve in large part around the hormone insulin. Insulin is the substance that diabetics inject to manage their disease since they are unable to manufacture it (Type I) or need extra since their cells don't respond strongly enough to the endogenous supply (Type II). Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to blood sugar. The hormone opens gateways in the cells, allowing the sugar to be taken up by the cells so that they can continue to function.

According to dietician Diane Kress (more about her soon), people may have one of two general responses to insulin. In "textbook" people insulin works efficiently, and calories in causes blood sugar rise causes insulin release causes appropriate cellular function. However, there may be a second sort of person in whom insulin doesn't work as well. Calories in causes blood sugar rise causes insulin release causes an overstimulation of fat cells to take up all of the blood sugar in the blood. Blood sugar drops, and yet the other cells haven't received sugar/energy from the meal. Because the brain depends upon blood glucose to function, it sends out signals that it is STARVING and the person becomes more hungry than he was before.

This second group of people may remember that dieting, eating fewer calories and engaging in more exercise, never seemed to result in reliable weight loss. They weren't cheating. They also tend to put on weight, especially around the middle, as their fat cells grow.

Hmm, interesting concept. I'll pick up more of this next blog.


  1. I know that the calories in, exercise to burn them, is working for me, but only because I'm tracking things extremely carefully. I've been using MyFitnessPal.com since August 1st and it is now almost 12 weeks later and I've lost 9 pounds. I'm not eating very differently than before, but I'm being made aware of the large calorie items in my diet through MyFitnessPal (the inputting of every food you can imagine has already been done). Also, because I enter the data three times a day, I can see how many calories I have "left" for each day right befor starting dinner. That sometimes changes what I eat for dinner. The "bonus" calories it adds for exercise are nice, too, as is the elegant way they have of calculating things. Also, the system is free and that's a big bonus. The only expense was buying a scale with a decimal point for greater accuracy, and buying a food scale. Neither of those purchases were required.

  2. Hi Amy,
    Thanks a lot for dropping in at my knol page and thanks for the comment, its really good to meet you at your place, this is a wonderful place i need to look into more of your blogs and other write-ups.
    Keep posting
    Keep inform
    Pl do post at Google's knols based on your studies etc. Its a good place to post your related subjects there.
    best regard
    i just joined in

  3. wow amy, have you jumped on the low-carb bandwagon? if you haven't yet, you might want to check out gary taubes' blog http://garytaubes.com/

    he doesn't have many entries, but the ones there are good and of course he has the two books (good calories, bad calories and why we get fat).

    love you and congrats on the new book! can't wait to check it out :D