Why care about calories?

After the last blog post on calorie magic, my husband–whose intellectual response to people challenging me on the internet is to want to give them a virtual wedgie–asked me why I didn’t just engage those cute little white dude-o-scientists who are so pumped about how IT JUST MUST BE CALORIES CALORIES CALORIES CALORIES in some sort of PubMed duel to the finish.

My explanation:  I don’t do PubMed duels. PubMed is a wonderful thing, and the internet has given us tremendous access to a great deal of information, much of which is used to confirm our own preconceived notions, even if (especially if?) we don’t fully understand what those notions actually are. As I’ve said before, a pastiche of  PubMed citations frequently boils to a bunch of snapshots taken out of context of the larger literature–and out of context of a full understanding of physiological and biochemical realities, not to mention social and cultural ones–that may or may not express a physiologically significant or practically useful concept.

And this is problem: I’m not convinced that calories express a physiologically significant or practically useful concept. Here’s what I figure. If calories were so FREAKIN important, then my biochemistry books should be rife with information about them. But that does not seem to be the case.

[I took my first biochem class at age 45, weeping my way through one excruciatingly difficult exam after another. I emerged–bloodied by unbowed–to joyfully sign up for 3 more semesters. I don’t consider myself an expert by any stretch; I just feel that biochemistry is sort of the key to the universe, certainly the universe of nutrition. If something doesn’t make sense from a biochemical perspective–which would apply to about 90% of the Dietary Guidelines–it shouldn’t be part of nutrition policy.]

I did this a while back, just for my own peace of mind, and I don’t know how useful it will be to any of you, but here’s what my collection of biochem books has to say about calories. Spoiler alert: Not much. [So you can stop here if you have a life.]

My biochemistry books, in order of how much I love them, least to most:

Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (3rd Edition), 2000

James Groff & Sareen Gropper

I don’t know why I have this book.

–“Calorie” is indexed to a passage on units of energy in a discussion of thermodynamics. Calories are not mentioned again.

–“Calorimetry, direct” and “calorimetry, indirect” are indexed to passages discussing the measurements of energy expenditure. It contains this notable summary:

” Although changes in energy balance produce weight changes, the extent of these changes varies from person to person.”


Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease, 2009

Eric Newsholme & Tony Leech

I got this book with great anticipation, as it seemed to promise a better integration of biochemistry and physiology than most biochem texts. But like some sort of weird Asian-fusion spicy wonton Alfredo dish, I guess it is just trying to do too much. There is not enough detail here for me, and the reader is left to sort of assume “magic elves in a box” in too many places, which–as far as I am concerned–defeats the whole point of learning biochemistry.

–“Calorie” is not indexed.

–“Calorimetry” is indexed. This couple of pages highlights the limitations of measuring calorie expenditure in the human body.

Biochemistry (4th Edition), Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews, 2008

Pamela Champe, Richard Harvey, & Denise Farrier

This is the boy-toy of my biochem texts. I don’t love this book, but it is much more portable than my other biochem texts, so I can take it out in public without too much embarrassment.

–“Calorie” is not indexed.

–“Caloric consumption,” “caloric restriction, weight reduction and,” and “calorimeter” are indexed.

“Caloric consumption” addresses the fact that the source of the increase in calories consumed by Americans since 1971 is carbohydrates.

“Caloric restriction, weight reduction and” is indexed to a page includes the following helpful information:

 “Caloric restriction is ineffective over the long term for many individuals.”


Biochemistry (2nd Edition) , 1995

Donald Voet & Judith Voet

I approach the Voets with the reverence and respect due a giant doorstop of a book like this. Like that scary old professor who knows everything, it is intimidating, but, well, it knows everything.

“Calorie (cal)” and “Calorie, large (Cal)” are indexed to the same place. The indexing refers to a table that compares thermodynamic units and constants as an adjunct to a passage on the First Law of Thermodynamics. This passage contains a little nugget of joy for those of us who insist that conversations about weight management may need to consider more than just how many calories go “in” and how many calories go “out.” Unless you are a fully registered and certified geek, you may want to just skip ahead:

“Neither heat [i.e. what is measured by calories] nor work is separately a state function [i.e. quantities that depend only on the state of the system] because each is dependent on the path followed by a system in changing from one state to another . . . If [the First Law of Thermodynamics] is to be obeyed, heat must also be path dependent. It is therefore meaningless to refer to the heat or work content of a system (in the same way that it is meaningless to refer to the number of one dollar bills and ten dollar bills in a bank account containing $85.00).”

This is why when someone talks about a person storing “800 calories of energy as fat,” I hear something that makes about as much sense to me as saying a person can store “$85 dollars worth of money in his bank account as four twenties and a fiver.”

Calories are otherwise never mentioned again in the rest of the 1,310 pages of this book.


Biochemistry (6th edition), 2009

Mary Campbell & Shawn Farrell

Campbell y Farrell is my warm fuzzy teddy-bear of a biochem book. I LUV it. Cuddle up with C&F for a well-written, easy-to-understand (as these things go) romp through the wonders of biochem.

–“Calorie” is not indexed.

–“Caloric restriction” is indexed to a discussion of longevity and sirtuins, not weight loss or obesity.

Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry (4th Edition), 2005

David L. Nelson & Michael M. Cox

This is my favorite biochemistry book ever. If it were available and I were single, I would marry it in a hot second.

–“Calorie” is not indexed. Nor is “kilocalorie.” Nor anything else that I could think of having to do with “calories.”

There you have it.   Seems to me that all those broscientists want to talk about is something that doesn’t have a lot to do with the keys to the universe of nutrition.  I don’t mind talking biochemistry, but the basic biochemistry that I’m familiar with has virtually nothing to say about calories.

And if biochemistry isn’t too concerned with calories, why should you be?




50 thoughts on “Why care about calories?

  1. Isn’t your message to reduce carbohydrates? This means to reduce calories, because carbohydrates are a macronutritient. Also, mocking the entire scientific community and white males? Doesn’t a PhD require more education and research than an RD?

    1. Read my stuff. Then you’ll know what my message is.

      Yes, you are very S-M-R-T smart. Carbohydrates are a macronutrient, and it takes more schooling to get a PhD than it does to get an RD. Good job.

      Mocking SOME white males, yes. The entire scientific community? No. I like, admire, and respect whole great swaths of the scientific community, which I’m pretty sure does not include present company. Thanks for coming by though.

  2. The fifth edition of your favourite biochem text, “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism”, mentions “calorie” or “calories” 25 times, “kcal” 19 times, and “kJ” 10 times. It doesn’t sound like you looked very hard in any of these books.


    Quote from page 291:

    “Whether body weight is being maintained, increased, or decreased depends primarily on the extent to which the energy requirements of the body (i.e., total energy expenditure) have been met or exceeded by energy intake.”

    1. Quote from page 169:

      “The unit of energy used throughout this text is the calorie, abbreviated cal. In the expression of the higher caloric values encountered in nutrition, the unit kilocalories (kcal) is often used: 1 kcal = 1000 cal.”

      1. Let me explain to you what an index is, since apparently you are unclear on the subject. An index–which is what I looked at, in my real live books, not a google book search–is a place where the authors and editors of the book list where important points may be found about topics in the book that are of relevance to people who are studying the subject. In other words, some words may be IN the book, but not of a great deal of relevance. For example, in Lehningers, the word “injury” is used, but as this is not a medical textbook on orthopedics where one might expect the word “injury” to be indexed, the authors and editors chose not to place the word “injury” in the index. Ditto “calories.”

        Also, because you are apparently a little unclear on this as well, when I indicated that the following list contains “My biochemistry books, in order of how much I love them, least to most,” that means that the first book is actually NOT my “favourite.” But that was a really good try anyways. Thanks for playing.

  3. “I don’t do PubMed duels.” <– LOL, that's because dueling with speculation, imagination, & empty rhetoric is easier than dueling with scientific evidence.

      1. I’ve read my share of PubMed articles. I cite them when it’s appropriate. But my focus is on people and policy, with the idea that the science found in PubMed articles must serve the people through policy, not simply serve as battering rams in cyberspace duels, which frankly, matter little. Science does not emerge in a socio-cultural vaccum; it does not present some tower of unassailable “facts” that portray reality as it “really is.” If that were the case, the phrase “for every study, there is an equal and opposite study,” would not be both true and funny.

        Alan Aragon, who has characterized me as a “low carb zealot” is as much a rhetorician as anything else, as evidenced by the phrase used–inaccurately, from my perspective–to describe me. I have found that low-carb diets work for some, not for others. Ditto an “eat less, move more” approach. I have nothing against carbs per se; some of my best friends are carbs. A zealot is someone who insists that her way is the only way. If I am a zealot about anything, it is to insist that there should be multiple ways to approach diet, nutrition, and health–not just “eat less, move more,” not just low-carb, not just low-fat, not just “paleo” (whatever that means), not just ONE FREAKING DIET TO RULE THEM ALL.

        Why must it be one way or the other? When working with postmenopausal females who had a great deal of difficulty losing weight at all, they had to focus on getting the most nutrition for the least amount of energy, which meant reducing carbohydrate foods that were not nutritionally important. In no sense were they able to eat as much as they might want to as long as it wasn’t carbohydrate food. At the same time, they were not able to lose weight by simply reducing calories and increasing activity, with no attention to essential nutrition and macronutrient profiles.

        But–just to rant a little bit more because this snarky arrogance reminds me of the snarky arrogance that these women I mentioned above had been met with during their struggles to lose weight & gain health–when I worked with these women they were tired, hungry, and frustrated with counting and measuring and trying exercise as much as they’d been told they should (while tired and hungry). When offered a different option, some of them found great success, some limited success, and some very little success. But: all of them appreciated being listened to (rather than dismissed as “special snowflakes”) and being offered an alternative (rather than being told to do more of the same, but to “try harder”). I speak for them, not because I want to (because I honestly hate confrontation & this whole comment thread is giving me a stomachache), but because they insisted that someone must & I seemed like a pretty good someone to them. One woman in particular, whom I will never forget, made me promise that I would do what I could to represent those who had been called lazy, or lying, or apathetic, when the CICO approach did not work for them, and had been bullied into starving themselves, blaming themselves, and feeling guilty about EVERY BITE OF FOOD THEY ATE. I don’t give a flying freak–beyond their utilitarian purposes–about PubMed or twitter or facebook or blogosphere duels. There are real people with real lives who have real stories that contradict the practice of “eat less move more.” The cadre of broscientists out there may speak for their own clients/gym buddies/whatever. I speak for the people I met in clinic whom I know, admire, and respect and who deserve more than what they’ve been given from the public health and medical system so far. I’ve never suggested that I have some secret magic formula for successful weight loss or health gain–unlike many of those CICO advocates with their pay-to-play fitness plans, supplement regimes, or “coaching” programs. Rather, I’ve suggested that there is enough failure in the system to warrant a serious, academic and policy-level discussion about why it isn’t working. When we get there, I’ll be happy to PubMed duel to the finish.

    1. As if “PubMed duels” are something besides speculation and imagination. What is science if not “speculation”? And it take a great deal of “imagination” to conceive of the studies we find in PubMed. As a person studying rhetoric, rhetoric (mine and that of the broscientists wielding their PubMed articles as if they wrote them) is anything but empty. If it didn’t mean something to you, on some level, you wouldn’t be here responding to it.

    2. “LOL, that’s because dueling with speculation, imagination, & empty rhetoric is easier than dueling with scientific evidence.”

      Maybe that’s why PubMed citations are such favorites for people who like to post comments that don’t have much in the way of substance. I see a lot more empty rhetoric in what you just said than what I have seen on Adele’s blog, a blog which strikes me as containing an awful lot of factual information; as far as I can tell, what you just offered up contained none. I wouldn’t presume to speak for her, but in her place I’d be tempted to say “Either get specific or get out”. Drive-by shootings don’t help anybody.

  4. Calories? You want calories? What about an industry take on them?

    “Calories are the units of energy your body needs for every action, even breathing. However, in normal eating, about two-thirds of these energy calories are in the form of starches and sweets. Easy to understand why cutting out either of these foods can cause the body to send fatigue warnings.”

    There is more, some of it very funny. I’m not making this stuff up.


  5. I have often thought that one reason CICO doesn’t seem to “work,” is that gaining weight and losing weight are not mirror-image processes, that one is not simply the reverse of the other, but that they are entirely different processes caused by, and responding to, different cues, and employing different mechanisms. Being NOT a scientist, I have no way to describe this notion and not even any PubMed studies to point to…

    1. When I was first starting out learning about this stuff, I often assumed the two processes were, as you said, the reverse of each other. I got corrected every time, sometimes nicely, sometimes not, by the MDs and scientists I met at work and at conferences. So you are certainly not alone in seeing weight gain and loss from that perspective.

      1. Thanks, but I don’t want to take on the establishment without lots of help! I don’t have your qualifications or real world experience. Plus, apparently, I’m deficient in biochemistry textbooks. What’s the RDA or DRI?

        1. Well, you wouldn’t find RDA or DRI in many biochem texts anyway. DRI is Dietary Reference Intake, which indicate the recommendation for nutrient intake set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the NAS. RDA is Recommended Dietary Allowance, a level set for a nutrient that will meet the needs of most of the individuals in a group. There are also EARs, AIs, EERs, and ULs, because RDs L-U-V their ABCs.

  6. Totally purchased (at a surprisingly low cost) Lehninger’s Principles! Since I cannot currently afford a $1400 biochem class, at least I can do some of my own reading. Thank you for the suggestion!

  7. Biochemistry by Mathews, Van Holde, Ahern 2000 – lovely doorstop book with excellent diagrams – only one indexed mention of caloric content, a discussion of differential energy yield from various substrates.

  8. why I didn’t just engage those cute little white dude-o-scientists who are so pumped about how IT JUST MUST BE CALORIES CALORIES CALORIES CALORIES

    Do these scientists exist?

    When I read a climate sceptic blog, there are occasionally a few comments by scientists or people pointing to the blogs of scientists. For CICO or eat as much grains as you can, I have only seen bloggers who have made themselves “expert” by reading pubmed or sometimes even a real article. There is one exception: The China Study. That was written by a real scientist, but I failed to find it convincing as a natural scientist.

    Where are these CICO scientists? Scientists that actually studied CICO, found it convincing and communicate with the public.

    P.S. One reason why CICO is so popular could be that for thin (and thus influential) people it work better. In the past, reducing weight was very hard and I would say unhealthy. Now that I eat a paleo-ish diet, consciously eating less as requested by my body works a lot better to reduce weight.

    1. “dude-o-scientists” = pseudo-scientists = very terrible pun, but I couldn’t help myself.

      In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell talks openly about his involvement in government nutrition politics in the early days of the DGA. Like Marion Nestle, he positions himself as an unbiased “outsider” with no ties to industry and no feelings about the standard American diet one way or another. You might take him at his word except that funding for one’s own studies (from government) is as powerful a motivator as any ties to industry, and he was deeply involved in work that would aim to tie the standard (animal product based) American diet to cancer. Science never arises in a social vacuum, and “industry” is hardly a monolithic force. Campbell’s stance is that it was pressure from the meat, egg, and milk industries warping the scientific process in the early days of the DGA; no word of how grain, cereal, and seed oil industries benefited from those same recommendations. Lots of interesting rhetorical angles there, in addition to the limitations of the The China Study itself.

      It’s a good question: Where are the CICO scientists? I think Kenny Gow is going to take on some this on his blog, so check in there.

      “One reason why CICO is so popular could be that for thin (and thus influential) people it works better.” There’s a lot to explore here from a socio-political perspective. Robert Crawford has written extensively on “healthism” and the middle class. He brings up diet & exercise frequently as markers of health as a “super-value” to be pursued by the middle class.

  9. That’s funny. Crack open your Lehningers. In Chapter 1 The Foundations of Biochemistry, page 26 discusses calories in the context of biochemical reactions. There are several more mentions of the word including on page 908 in Chapter 23 Hormonal Regulation and Integration in Mammalian Metabolism where they state: “Stored fat can provide adequate energy (calories) during a fast or rigid diet …” That is a direct quote.

    1. I guess whoever indexed Lehninger’s didn’t think that these references to calories merited an inclusion in the index as something relevant and important to those interested in biochemistry. Good on you indexer, whoever you are. Sigh. And this is why I love my Lehninger’s so much.

      1. Oh come on. Calories is integral to biochemistry. After the metabolism to extract energy we just talk ATPs required (to supply energy/calories) vs. the actual calories expended. This litany of biochem books that don’t mention calories in the index? What’s your point? Calories are meaningless in biochem?

        The Voet and Voet quote is equally astounding. I am pretty sure it is out of context and doesn’t mean CICO is irrelevant … one can only hope … that work calories depend on path means nothing. You get the same energy from a chemical bond and the same amount is available to do work (or produce heat) and the rest is … da da daaaah! … stored in chemical bonds.

    2. “I am pretty sure it is out of context . . . ” Uh, yeah. Sure.

      [chandler]”Could your commentary be any more pointless?”[/chandler]

      Just for you, the virtual wedgie: (V)

  10. I have a few of those books myself and have them in a special place on my bookshelf…I thought this was weird until now. Thanks!
    I was speaking to a group on weight loss a month ago and they wanted to know my secret for staying slim…I’m about 20 pounds over my “ideal weight” but they are many more than that. I told them..gasp!, exercise doesn’t make you lose weight and that eating fat helps you use up body fat. They didn’t believe me of course. Oh well. They still count calories and load up on carbohydrates.

    1. Weird in the most awesome way possible 🙂

      My husband (an American Studies major with a great deal of insight into the American psyche) has said that people may prefer the “calories in, calories out” paradigm, even when it doesn’t really work all that well for them because it “feels” right (in that old school Puritanical way) to have to be “good” and “suffer” in order to be worthy of a healthy (read: slender) body. We not only want to blame others for their moral failings at diet & exercise, we seem to want to blame ourselves as well.

  11. Regarding those “cute little white dude-o-scientists” (you forgot to include “naturally lean”), it always amazes me that even though they don’t have to lift a finger to measure or count anything, they magically stay lean … and believe they have all the answers for the rest of us. They have, without even trying, found that elusive EXACT balance of food and activity where they don’t gain a single pound. Not one calorie more or less do they eat or expend. They eat the exact same number of calories and expend the same amount every single day without fail. It’s truly wondrous how their bodies just instinctively know exactly how many extra steps they have to take in a day to work off that extra teaspoon of salad dressing. Miraculous!

    Those of us who meticulously measure, weigh, and count every morsel that goes into our mouths … well, apparently we’re just doing it wrong.

    Hmmm. They seem to be able to do it all without conscious thought, yet we can’t do it no matter how much we measure and weigh and count our dietary intake. Methinks something is wrong with the equation here. Wait, we’re lying. I keep forgetting.

    The thing is, even if people underestimate food intake and overestimate activity, it can’t apply ONLY to those of us who are above our desired weights. If it applies to us, it applies to them. How is it that only they have found and can maintain that perfect balance day in and day out that so eludes the result of us?

    They call us the special flowers, but in fact, aren’t they the special ones, the blessed ones?

    1. Also, excess body weight is a sign of moral failings of all sorts, in addition to lying, including an inability to measure/weigh things properly, do math, or understand our own hunger/satiety signals. 🙂

      In all seriousness, you’ve given a terrific assessment of the situation. In fact, we have some evidence that people in general do underestimate their food intake and overestimate activity. But fat people are the only people whose inability to accurately estimate energy balance is “obvious” to the rest of the world.

      To me this is the foundational catch-22 with calories: There is no way to know if you are eating “too much” and not moving “enough” until after the fact. Once you’ve gained excess weight, then anyone (a helpful broscientist perhaps?) can tell you that it is clear that (for some reason, such as you are a lazy glutton) you’ve eaten more calories than you’ve utilized. If you never gain weight, then–it is just as obvious–you (for some reason, such as you are a fine upstanding citizen) haven’t eaten “too much” or not moved “enough.”

      My son, 15, has a BMI of 17 (underweight). He eats around 3000 calories a day (all burgers are double burgers). His idea of exercise is moving from the bed to the couch. If you are a “special snowflake” and CICO doesn’t seem to really apply to you AND you’re thin–it’s not an issue. His pediatrician would never tell my son he must be eating less and moving more than he thinks he is. If you are a “special snowflake” and CICO doesn’t seem to really apply to you AND you’re fat–well, that’s a different story now, isn’t it?

      1. I’ve always loved your work, Adele, but *this* is really what goes right to my heart — how you address the moral judgments heaped on the overweight and obese. Are there people who lay on the couch all day guzzling Slurpees and chowing down on donuts? Sure, maybe a few. But based on my own personal experience and that of many friends — diligent calorie counters, fat-gram slashers, chronic exercisers, and in general, people disciplined out the wazoo — this does NOT describe the vast majority of heavier people. It’s so easy for the people who think they have it “all figured out” to pile judgments and insults upon the overweight. Like you (and others) have said before – these people are born on the genetic and metabolic finish line, and they think they won the race. Sometimes, these are the very same people who could eat “anything they wanted” all their lives, but WHAM, when they turned 50, “all of a sudden” they had heart disease. “One day, out of nowhere,” they got diagnosed with diabetes. (All while STILL LEAN, mind you!)

        Oy…the holier-than-thou attitude of the ELMM crowd irks me to no end. Wrote a post about it recently, myself. http://www.tuitnutrition.com/2014/05/fuel-partitioning-willpower-addendum.html
        (It was a follow-up to: http://www.tuitnutrition.com/2014/05/fuel-partitioning-willpower.html)

        1. Dear Readers – If you haven’t already, check out Amy B’s links above. She pretty much covers about 6 draft posts I have stuffed in some computer file somewhere & acurately portrays what I saw in clinic all the time. Amy B – Thanks for sharing these!

          This is why I get so, so angry at mainstream advice hurled at overweight people to eat less and move more. This does (almost) NOTHING to correct the underlying problem, which is that they are hungry and have no energy, thanks to the effing low-fat, high-carb diet all the “experts” say they should follow. (Like I said last time, we don’t criticize people for putting on coats when they’re cold. So why do we criticize people for eating more and moving less when they’re hungry and tired? These moral judgments about W&D really get me.)

          One other line I just love: “You don’t need “willpower” to resist a craving when the craving isn’t there.”

      2. The Taubes straw man/false dichotomy is a nice touch : ) Play on emotions works well when trying to sell a concept. Guess what? Eating less and moving more is actually scientifically valid (albeit vague and incomplete) advice. And guess what else? It doesn’t mean people are gluttons and sloths or that we need to shame them. When you find a biochem textbook that indexes metabolic ward studies, please let us know so you can show us how insignificant calories are : ) Obesity is multilayered and when we try and point out a single cause/solution we do the public a grand disservice. Addressing emotional/psychological aspects of overeating/under-exercising is key to long-term success. Anecdotally, when my clients read about “cutting out all sugar and wheat”, they develop unnecessary food phobias. Those that continue to moderately include sugar and don’t “ban” foods do much better than those that try and “paleo”.

        1. “albeit vague and incomplete”: Yes.

          “Anecdotally, when my clients read about “cutting out all sugar and wheat”, they develop unnecessary food phobias. Those that continue to moderately include sugar and don’t “ban” foods do much better than those that try and “paleo”.” Well, it sounds like you are helping your clients find something that will work for them, without shaming them or dismissing them. I heartily applaud you and your work. Eliminating sugar helps some folks, not others. Ditto cutting out wheat.

          But then, couldn’t there also be similar complaints from other people elsewhere who read about cutting out all animal products, or sat fat, or cholesterol, or reducing calories/increasing exercise to a point where hunger and fatigue take over? Wouldn’t it also be possible that those folks might develop “unnecessary food phobias”? And just as the “calories in” part of the equations is necessarily bound up with the “calories out” part, why wouldn’t the “emotional/psychological aspects” of food and activity not be related to, oh, say, well, food and activity? Why wouldn’t what we eat affect how we think and feel about what we eat? This is why emotions are part of what I talk about. Because they are part of who were are. We are not bodies to be ruled by minds. If you’d been told that you are lying or you “must not care” about your health when the weight loss approaches you’d been offered didn’t work for you, you’d have some very real emotions attached to that moment, and the place where you would feel those emotions would be IN YOUR BODY. Feeding the body differently, either calorie-wise or nutrient-wise or both–for some folks–may change emotional/psychological factors involved eating behavior.

          Why would we assume that one approach (even “eat less, move more” which is, as you said, vague and incomplete) will work for everyone? I’ve never suggested that everyone everywhere should “cut out all sugar and wheat” and I’m not sure where you would have gotten the impression that I do except from someone somewhere else in cyberspace setting up his/her own straw man (or woman, as the case may be). For the record–once again and in three part harmony–the only concept I am selling appears to be one that you agree with: that a one-size-fits-all approach to health is inappropriate.

      1. The whole lifespan issue and cavemen is a fascinating subject. High infant mortality rates, infectious diseases, and injury meant that life expectancy is much lower than it is today. In other words, eating like cavemen (whatever that looked like) didn’t kill them.

        However, I can say with a certain amount of assurance–based solely on my own personal experience–that, no matter how short their lives, if cavemen/women had counted calories, it would have felt like MUCH MUCH longer.

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