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(The Calorie Paradox of Raw Veganism--continued, Part E)

Using the Paradox to Assess Credibility of "Experts"

Calories provide a potential "truth serum" for assessing the adequacy of reported diets. If an alleged dietary "expert" is promoting his or her diet as the best, or even "perfect" diet, ask what their daily diet consists of. Try to get the "expert" to specify types and quantities of foods consumed. If clear details are provided, you may be able to use the information in the calorie table here to check their diet, and their credibility.

A few hypothetical examples will illustrate.

  1. An "expert" claims to live on nothing but (on average) 6-8 pieces of sweet fruit per day.

  2. An "expert" claims to live on nothing but 1-2 liters of green juice, plus a relatively small amount (1-2 kg) of fruit per day.

  3. An "expert" claims to have a diet in which cucumbers and/or tomatoes are the predominant food, with some sweet fruit, and green vegetables, and to never/rarely eat avocados, nuts, or dried fruit.

Compare: reports of calorie consumption vs. realistic requirements. Note that the above are summary descriptions; additional detail would be required for a formal assessment of "expert" #3 above. Once data on quantities are available, use the averages from the calorie table earlier in this paper to estimate the total calories consumed per day. Looking at "expert" #1, it is clear that they claim to thrive on a diet that is far below starvation levels. The only logical inference one can make here is that they are a fake. "Expert" #2 also appears (assuming the sweet fruit eaten is juicy, not dried fruit) to claim to thrive on a diet that is below the normal minimum calorie levels. Hence one suspects that "expert" #2 is an anorectic and/or a fake like #1.

As for "expert" #3, an assessment will depend on the amounts of sweet fruit that are consumed--the only apparent source of significant calories claimed in the diet. Such a diet probably does not satisfy the calorie paradox, unless #3 eats a huge amount of cucumbers and tomatoes (unlikely), or eats lots of sweet fruit (seems like a contradiction--the usual reason for eating cucumbers is to limit sweet fruit consumption).

When an "expert" claims to thrive on a diet whose calorie content is inadequate. For discussion purposes, let us assume that you have captured a so-called "expert" in the calorie paradox. What are the possible explanations here?

"Experts" who fib about their actual intake is the most rational explanation for mismatches. In my opinion, the second explanation above (not being completely honest about the diet--which usually entails rationalizing not only to others, but to oneself) is the most logical one, with the third explanation (anorexia) as a possibility also, in the more extreme cases. Many so-called "experts" are in clear denial of reality regarding the theoretical basis of their diet; it seems intuitively reasonable that they would be in denial of their own behavior ("cheating"/binge-eating) as well. Thus, in light of these considerations, the calorie paradox--when you can apply it--provides a powerful, sobering check on the credibility of some of the so-called "experts" who promote their "ideal, perfect" diets.

Lower limits on daily calorie expenditures in starvation diets. There are some interesting research results concerning lower limits on calories per day as it relates to weight loss. The results of Thomson et al., as cited and analyzed in Grande et al., of a study of 10 women on a starvation regime, found that the women, on average, lost weight equivalent to 1,480-1,970 cal/day, depending on which type of tissues one assumes the women lost. Further, some of these women were extremely sedentary during the starvation period. (Reference: Grande et al., "Body Weight, Body Composition and Calorie Status," in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, edited by Robert S. Goodhart and Maurice E. Shils; 6th edition, 1980, Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia.)

Grande et al. also note, p. 32, "There is great variability among outpatients in regard to body weight response to dietary change, partly because of differences in activity habits, partly because the truth about dietary intakes is not always easy to discover." The point of the latter remark--finding the truth about dietary intakes--is something that can be very difficult to ascertain when dealing with so-called "experts" who claim to thrive on extreme diets.

Physical effects of starvation diets. Hoffer (writing in Shils et al.) describes an experiment in the 1940s with young men who followed a diet of only 1,600 cal/day for 24 weeks. On average, the men in the experiment lost 23% of their body weight. (Reference: "Starvation," by John Hoffer, chapter 56 (pp. 927-949) of Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, vol. II, 8th edition (later edition than the above paragraph reference), 1994, edited by Maurice E. Shils et al., Lea & Feibiger, Philadelphia.)

Thus, the above two research papers suggest that the figure of 2,000 cal/day as used in this paper is in all likelihood a very conservative figure as an average for active people.


(What Is Your Primary Calorie Source? / Why Raw-Fooders Eat So Much Avocado/Nuts or Overeat Sugar/Fruit)


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