Hormones and Calorie Needs

I’m currently reading (and loving) Robert Sapolsky’s Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

In chapter six his discussion of “Dwarfism and the Importance of Mothers” gets really interesting, especially in the context of an ongoing debate about whether or not “a calorie is a calorie” with regards to weight gain/loss. The attention the debate has been given can be largely attributed to Gary Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories, in which he makes the point that the relative inputs of carbs vs. fats makes a big difference. I find myself wanting to believe Taubes’ side, which seems to be advocated as well by others that I respect such as Arthur De Vany.

On page 94 (2nd edition) there is an interesting citation of a study where a kid’s growth rate seemed to sway drastically independent of calories eaten, and implies that in this case it was actually dependent on stress hormones affected by one’s emotional state.

Energy Balance

I haven’t read through all of Taubes’ book or much of the existing literature but this stands out as pretty good evidence that hormones do matter when it comes to the body’s energy balance. To borrow Sapolsky’s terminology, stress “liquidates” the body’s assets and this is an expensive process.

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