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Counting Calories N=1 Test Comment on Wheat Belly

Saw this on the Wheat Belly blog. That blog is excellent and I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. I think history will show Dr. Davis a key in the paradigm shift in thinking/attitudes toward health and weight. He could have gone the cheap, easy way and stuck to the “it’s just wheat” line and focused on selling books, but it’s clear he knows it is carbohydrates in general and has not hesitated to say it.

Today on his blog he posted a reader comment. The reader did some N=1 testing to see whether it is the type of calories or calories themselves that cause weight gain. It’s a simple test. I’ve done it myself. And my results are identical to his: calories don’t matter.

Day 1 I ate 5000 calories of mostly cakes and I gained 1 pound, the 2nd day 4500 calories of a similar menu and I gained almost 2 pounds, 3rd day I cut sugar to zero but I kept my calorie intake at 4500, I overate chicken, coconut & omelettes all day long and I reduced my activities to watching movies and playing video games. I had lost 2 pounds the next day at noon.

Calories in, calories . . . ooops! Where’d they go?

At the end of this guy’s comment he mentions that someone said it’s impossible to lose a pound in a single day. As he mentions – that’s clearly incorrect. I’ve lost 2 pounds in a single day. On numerous occasions. One pound equals 3500 calories? If so, then that alone is pretty compelling that the calories-in/out theory is flawed.

But…in keeping with my last post: my experience is mine. Yours may vary.

7 replies on “Counting Calories N=1 Test Comment on Wheat Belly”

in the short term, alternating with carb heavy days, and very low carb days, you can bet that this is all water weight (in both directions). i’m afraid this doesn’t prove much.

the real test would be to see if you can sustain a higher-than-usual calorie level, with very low carbs, and lose weight over a more significant period of time.


I’m not following what you’re saying. What causes water retention? High calories?

The first couple of months that I was eating low-carb, I ate a minimum of 2500 calories a day and often more, just to see how calories impacted my weight loss. For me, it didn’t matter – I kept losing weight regardless of the caloric intake.


carbohydrate and glycogen cause water retention.

i’m not a calories in calories out type, don’t get me wrong! but you lose a significant amount of water weight when you first cut carbs. if you stick with it, you’ll also lose fat. no debate here.

this particular experiment though, switching high carb to low carb over a few days, isn’t well-designed.

I hear you – I really was just asking what causes water retention. I don’t know. I never got the ‘it’s just water weight’ thing – does it really apply if you’re still eating lots of food (i.e., eating low-carb) and still losing weight for the first few days? I can see if you’re cutting calories it might apply.

Yes, it still applies. When you eat a higher carb diet you store the excess energy in part in your muscles and liver. Each gram of glycogen (sugar) is stored with anywhere from 3-5 grams of water depending on which article you take to be accurate. When you then go on a low carb diet you will use up that stored glycogen and lose the water that was stored with the water.

So, as Jake pointed out if you do what the guy in the article did, flip flop back and forth between the two diets you will see dramatic “weight” loss in the first few days of the low carb portion. That “weight” will be mostly water.

It is unfortunate that Dr.Davis has that article on his blog as it calls into question his understanding of that which he recommends. This is not to say I don’t agree with his take on Wheat on humans, but to present that post as proof against caloric value is foolish IMO.

Edit to the above: Last sentence first paragraph should read “water that was stored with the glycogen”

Further, if you are eating a very low carb, high fat diet you will store excess energy as fat, not glycogen so you will not gain/hold water weight as you do when you are consuming excess carb.

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