Why Calories Don’t Count

Why Calories Don’t Count: How We Got the Science of Weight Loss Wrong by Giles Yeo 2021

About the Author
Giles Yeo MBE is the Professor of Molecular Neuroendocrinology at the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit and Scientific Director of the Genomics/Transcriptomics Core at the University of Cambridge.

About the Book
Calorie information is ubiquitous. On packaged food, restaurant menus and online recipes we see authoritative numbers that tell us the calorie count of what we’re about to consume. And we treat these numbers as gospel; counting, cutting, intermittently consuming and, if you believe some ‘experts’ out there, magically making them disappear. We all know, and governments advise, that losing weight is just a matter of burning more calories than we consume.

Here’s the thing, however, that most people have no idea about. ALL of the calorie counts that you see everywhere today, are WRONG.

In Why Calories Don’t Count Dr Giles Yeo, obesity researcher at Cambridge University, challenges the conventional model and demonstrates that all calories are not created equal. He addresses why popular diets succeed, at least in the short term, and why they ultimately fail, and what your environment has to do with your bodyweight.

Once you understand that calories don’t count, you can begin to make different decisions about how you choose to eat, learning what you really need to be counting instead. Practical, science-based and full of illuminating anecdotes, this is the most entertaining dietary advice you’ll ever read.

‘In this great read, Giles Yeo ruthlessly and amusingly destroys the calorie as our most persistent diet myth.’ Tim Spector, author of Spoon-Fed and The Diet Myth

‘A tour de force by the wise and witty Professor Giles Yeo. As well as being one of the UK’s foremost experts on the genetics of obesity, Professor Yeo knows how to tell a great story. After reading this brilliant book you will understand what the labels on food really tell us, and what they don’t.’ Michael Mosley, author of The Fast 800

‘Giles Yeo knows that when it comes to motivating us to make better food choices, a little understanding goes a long way. He writes with a gift for making the science of diet interesting and a knack for telling us just what we need to know, and not too much more. Here he takes on the demon calories, and shows us why we should neither fear them, nor worship them, and certainly not count them. It’s a book that will help you not just to eat better, but to enjoy eating better. And that’s got to be worth having on your kitchen shelf.’ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Summary of Introduction (partial)
Bottom line is, Jack and Diane have been told by their doctor that they both need to try to lose some weight if they want to reduce their risk of disease and increase their chances of a healthy beginning to their next fifty years.

‘Just keep a close eye on your calories to make sure you are eating less, and the weight will come off,’ advised their doctor.

Every item of food that is packaged in any way – raw, cooked, baked, pickled, fermented, cured, dried or frozen – by law has to come with information about the number of calories contained within.

At times, calories can make us either feel good or bad; or sometimes even good and bad at the same time.

We all need calories to live, yet many people feel (or are made by others to feel) guilty about consuming them.

The important question to ask is not how many calories are in your food, but rather how many available or usable calories, through digestion and metabolism, will your body be able to extract from this food?

It is surprising to many, but the total number of calories in a food is not the same as the number of calories we are able to use, not even close.

A – the number of calories actually in the food ≠ (does not equal) B – the number of calories on the side of the pack ≠ (does not equal) C – the number of usable calories we finally get out of the food In the first four chapters of this book, I will unpack the equation above.

I will explore ‘the calorie’, what it is, its history, how it is measured, and where those ubiquitous counts that adorn our food packaging have come from.

Once you understand the elegant simplicity of the calorie equation, you will be able to navigate the supermarket shelves and menus more confidently and begin to look at food, from lentils to a fillet steak to a slice of cake, in a different way.

It’s my hope that understanding the true science of weight loss will empower you to make healthier food choices.

Anyone who is currently reading this book or has finished it can leave comments. In good faith, cite which chapter(s) are referred to.
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