DV’s, Calories and losing a pound of fat, plus a recipe! Part 10 of the series: Dieting does it work for you?

DV’s, Calories and losing a pound of fat, plus a recipe! Part 10 of the series: Dieting does it work for you?

A brief history of the concept of Daily Values: always. That’s it every culture from the dawn of time has had some idea or another about what should be eaten and how much. Sometimes historical guidelines were a little off but usually they were for one reason or another good idea to follow.



The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States government puts out the above chart; these are the official government stamped recommended Daily Values. This is a very general guideline meant for most of us (a potential flaw in the guideline). The FDA does recommend specific values for different demographics but they are not incorporated into this system. On food in the US nutritional labels are based off of these values. In the US products meant for infants often describes Daily Values as they reference to infants. Just for fun other governments like to disagree slightly.



The Food and Drink Administration of the United Kingdom uses a system called Guideline Daily Amounts, GDA (England, Great Brittan whatever you want to call this place). In the UK the labels on food are based off this system as it is described for women. It is felt that the described GDA for women is the best option of the three, to apply to the general public. The UK system differs from the US system largely by recommending different amounts for different demographics largely men women and children. The US does this too, but they do not incorporate it into the official chart that is in use.

It is not just the governments that disagree… it is everyone. Chances are you disagree with some of these values, I know I do. Just the same, there is research behind the values that a government puts out… because well a healthy population is a cheaper population. Healthy people put less financial stress on many systems including the government. With the UK having Universal Health Care they are doubly financially incentivized to publish good numbers. In the article above, it details that the numbers are fine to stick close to as a guide, but should not be treated as a target. This is elaborated by saying a person should eat no more than the GDA’s for sugars, fat, saturates (saturated fat) and salt.

For a safe bet, you should stick with the charts and the numbers off of them. If you must use the images know that the lower end of the field is usually for adult females and the upper end of the field is for adult males.

Most people involved with nutrition disagree with the amount of vitamins and minerals that government guidelines recommend, and indeed these numbers are always being studied…. But they do not have anything resembling a consensus as to what the numbers should be. Peoples (including doctors and other professionals) personal recommendations are often WAY higher or WAY lower. But guess what they are rarely as safe as the government recommendations.

Low Carb Diet: usually safe 98% + of the time maybe, but NOT always… the US government’s recommendation of 300grams may make you fat (debatable). However, there is near zero risk that your body suffers from extreme ketoacidosis. If your body is not capable of a healthy ketogenic state (a very small amount of people are not capable) and you stubbornly continue on your diet despite all kinds of discomfort you could develop extreme ketoacidosis and… DIE.

Low Fat Diets: I hate low fat diets (I need to be honest about my bias), not only are they uncomfortable but they are also potentially lethal. The FDA recommends 65 grams of fat with no more than 20 from saturated, this is not a low fat diet (at 29% of calories some, not me, would even consider this a high fat diet). People usually experience negative side effects; thank god most people on low fat diets cheat and have fatty food when nobody is looking.

A list of really bad potential side effects of a low fat diet:

LOW FAT DIETS ARE USUALLY DANGERIOUS, A common recommendation is a minimum of 18-20 grams of unsaturated fat.

  1. Depression (suicide = death), fats are biological precursors to most hormones in the body including mood regulating hormones, when your body goes without the fat to make the hormones it needs; it can use it’s fat stores to some extent. However while the body is getting that fat it is going without and you are depressed (amongst other bad things). Your body over compensates, hooray for insanity causing mood swings, and you become manic… to much mania and the average body builds up a resistance to everything that causes mania. Meaning deeper and deeper depression.
  2. Poor vitamin absorption (potentially lethal), some vitamins like vitamin C are water soluble meaning they break down into something the body can use by being in water. Some vitamins are FAT soluble meaning breaking down into something the body can use MUST be done in fats and oils. If you are not getting enough fats in your diet your body CANNOT fully compensate for it. You will not get enough vitamins like A, D, E and K which are fat soluble. The body cannot or at least will not put fat from its fat stores into the stomach, and bile only has about 1% fat not enough to prevent malnutrition. Malnutrition is one of the worst ways to die.
  3. Increased cancer rate, this one may take a good while to take into effect but it has been repeatedly shown to be true. You do things to try and prevent getting cancer like wear sunscreen, and avoid this or avoid that, stop avoiding fat, by avoiding fat you are asking for cancer.
  4. Heart disease: those omega fatty acids that everyone is talking about being so good for your heart are FAT. You have most likely developed the mentality that these Omegas are good for you, well good news they are, so get some already.
  5. Overeating: fat is the most satiating nutrient you could consume. Not getting enough fat could result in hunger, thusly overeating.
  6. Imbalanced nutrition: I am a huge proponent of wiggle room in nutrition but your diet must resemble something that could be called balanced, and any time it does not you are putting yourself at risk.

Low Protein Diets: The FDA recommends 50 grams of protein, this is actually a pretty low protein diet being only about 10% but the non-active body does not really need much protein. If you are on a diet with less protein than about 40 grams: you can EXPECT weakness and mood issues. Muscles need protein to make repairs and when they don’t get it, they become weaker and weaker. Amino acids from proteins do more than just build cells. Tryptophan is a biological precursor to serotonin which we need to feel happy. I am thankful that these diets are becoming increasingly rare.

So what does the FDA recommend as for macro nutrients?

65 grams of Fat (no more than 20 saturated) = about 585 calories.

50 grams of protein (the world health organization gives guidelines for amino acids) = about 200 calories

300 grams of carbohydrates = about 1200 calories

This translates into 1985 calories: 29.4% Fat, 10.1% Protein and 60.4% Carbohydrates.

So how much is considered too much of each.

Protein: according to the National Academy of Sciences to much protein is 35% of daily calorie intake. On a 2000 calorie diet this is a whopping 175 grams of protein. Studies are done all the time on this topic and numbers like to dance around like crazy. I have never seen anything recommended by a reputable source over 1.8 grams per kilogram and the recommendation was for body builders. Assuming a weight of 100 kilograms (220 pounds) this is 180 grams of protein, damm close to the Academy’s numbers. I do not have a problem and I hold my tongue, when my clients say they are getting 40%. Over this tends to do no harm (unless you have kidney issues) but getting over this is typically utterly useless.

Fat: does not have well established maximums, however consuming over 30% increases risks for things like obesity, insulin resistance and cardiovascular problems. Consuming more than 30% fat slows down the metabolism (so does getting less than 10% fat). If you are on a low fat diet you should be especially careful to minimize saturated fat intake.

Carbohydrates: Assuming you meet the minimum of 10% Fat and 10% Protein your max carb intake would be 80%; which is 400 carbs on a 2000 calorie diet. This does not have to lead to weight gain, if the right carbs are consumed. These numbers are fairly common for vegans, and vegans are generally a lean group of people.

Oddly governments don’t even always agree with themselves… The “food plate” from the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, does not rightly match the RDI’s of the Food and Drug Administration. In my opinion this is a good thing, I would prefer it if my clients followed the food plate model. The food plate is a much more balanced model.



Apparently the USDA is really here to help because they offer for free what many internet sites charge for (there are non-government free versions too). They offer a program called super tracker which helps you track your diet and physical activity. I was fact checking this and the government’s program is one of the most accurate I have seen to date, and is probably the most accurate free one. These types of programs are common but this one looks really good.


Many smart phone apps that I have found that do this, are really good, and often free.


Fat has around 9 calories per gram. There is 1000 grams in a kilogram, meaning a kilogram of fat has 9000 calories… scary. A kilogram is ~2.205 pounds so a pound of pure fat is 4081.6 calories. The fat in your body is contained within fat cells, which are held in place with connective tissue and of course there is muscle in the mix as well, when all of these are factored into the equation the commonly accepted number for number of calories in a an average pound of fat is about 3500 calories. The average kilogram of fat is about 7700 calories. (These numbers are for typical adipose tissue, fat, which contains about 80% fat by volume)

3500 calories should be considered to be about a maximum number of calories that could be in a pound of fat.

Contrary to popular belief fat is not kept by the body until it is needed. Fat cells are constantly releasing and storing fat, this is a very good thing. Fat cells do have a tendency to pick up other nasty things (toxins) and store them, but because they are constantly loading and unloading their cargo toxin build-up is not too bad (or at least not supposed to be). If fat cells did not do this, losing weight would be very dangerous. (Some toxins are released during weight loss, but this is normally not cause for alarms because of this load/unload function of fat cells.) Fat-cells also store vitamins like A, D, E, and K thus helping prevent malnutrition.

Adipose tissues, fat, aside from being a storage area, serve an endocrine function, fat makes hormones. (The fat itself does not make hormones the fat cell does). I am not going to get into their functions. These hormones are currently a subject of many studies. As far as I know there is not a single hormone that the body makes that has no effect on health when it is out of balance. It has been proposed that obesity throws these hormones out of balance. A list of adipose tissue hormones: Adiponectin, Resistin, Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1, TNF alpha, IL-6, Leptin, Estradiol. Adipose tissue also secretes some other stuff like proteins and things; the point is fat cells are busy little things.

The FAT gene

Being genetically predisposed to obesity is extremely rare, and it usually involves the hormone leptin. If you super want to see if you blaming your genes has any merit, you can start contacting all the blood testing labs near you to see if they will test your leptin levels for you. Most likely you are not genetically obese. The famous “famine” thrifty gene hypothesis has been proved invalid many times. Chances are you can apologize to Mom and Dad because their genes did not make you fat. A predisposition to over-weight is a little less rare genetically, and usually this has to do with water retention. Those who retain water easy will quickly lose this extra water when they lose weight… so the moral of the story is: stop blaming your genes.

“Burning” a Pound of Fat:

The human body has 20-27 billion fat cells with the capacity to have up to around 300 billion fat cells. When we lose weight we do a combination of having our fat cells reduce in size and if we have extra we slowly lose the extra fat cells. The size of a fat cell in a healthy adult ranges from .2 micrograms to .9 micrograms; inside a fat cell is a single tiny droplet of lipid (fat) and some other stuff, but there is also organelles like mitochondria and there is a nucleus.

Having a calorie deficit is important to weight loss; a calorie deficit is essentially negative calories. When you add up everything you ate and then subtract the calories you burned just being alive and the calories you burned during exercise, if you get a negative number then you have a calorie deficit. These formulas almost never take into account the speed of your metabolism or the fact that with all exercise your body continues to burn calories as it heals in response to the exercise. Just the same it is important to have a calorie deficit when doing this math. This is known as Calories In minus Calories Out (Cal in – Cal out).

Years ago it was common knowledge to burn a pound of fat it required that you have a calorie deficit of 1000 calories, when following Cal In – Cal out. If you had asked a doctor in the 90’s they probably would have given you 1000 for a number to burn. Today it is common knowledge that to burn a pound of fat you have to have a deficit of 3500 calories. The average doctor today would give you the number 3500.

3500 is a complete and utter lie; it is nonsense, really think about it. Think about how complicated those fat cells are?

It takes calories to get the fat from those cells:

The body produces a number of hormones when it needs the energy it has stored in its fat cells: Epinephrine, Growth Hormone, ACTH, Glucagon, and Thyroid Hormone. It takes calories to make and use these hormones. These hormones act in a way opposite of insulin and trigger the release of fat cells triglycerides and glycerol. The triglycerides (fatty acids) must be broken down into glycerol through lipolysis, this takes calories. Some parts of your body can use the glycerol and fatty acids directly, using those takes calories. Other parts of the body require glucose and so the fat has to be broken down even further using gluconeogenesis, which also burns calories. The brain always needs some ketone bodies so more calories must be “burnt” to make them. The list goes on and on… the body is dang complicated and trying to boil it down to a simple subtraction problem (calories in- calories out) in my opinion is in insult to the all-knowing nature of God.

The real formula is: Calories in – calories out – ? = weight loss, maybe. There are some things that only God knows the exact answers to.

I highly doubt that medical science will ever be able to come up with a reliable formula for weight loss that will apply to the general population because we are all different people.

It is, however, very possible to roughly formulize weight loss, I do it all the time. I use the formula: Calories in – Calories out – [R (for calories used during recovery) + M (for metabolism) + V (for hidden variables)] = weight loss. To come up with this formula you MUST work backwards. You must clearly and carefully annotate everything you do for a week to a month and measure your weight before and afterwards. Then, with a little math, you can get a rough formula (this may be really hard for you to do, sorry it is pretty easy for me). The formula is good until it stops working, and it will eventually stop working.

There is a gem of comfort to all of this: it takes less than a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose weight. Your number might be a 1000, it might be 2500 it might be 1999. It is not uncommon for it to be as little as 500 for the morbidly obese. If you become an elite athlete losing a pound of fat will eventually become very difficult and the number can be as high as 3500, so perhaps if weight loss goes slow for you were destine to become an elite athlete?

For those that are thinking about Liposuction yes you lose the cells themselves, but guess what it is common that the body strikes back at you with a vengeance. Often those who get lipo eventually end up having more fat cells than they did when they started. The more fat cells you have the harder it is to lose weight.    

Experiment, experiment, experiment and then experiment some more: find what works for you!

Below is one of my more recent experiments, I have been experimenting with making recipes for weight loss powders that could be used to make weight loss shakes and weight loss snacks. This recipe has no artificial ingredients, no protein isolates, and is packed full of nutrition. It is also pretty cheap to make, around $40 for a whole month’s supply. I call this recipe Ninja Food Diet-Powder, but you can call it whatever you like. If you are allergic to nuts and seeds don’t add them but do add some other source of fat, your body needs fat. The nuts and seeds (including the flax) are to “complete” the protein of the lentils. Lentils can also be pared with whole grains or whole grain germs like wheat germ to “complete” the protein. Protein completion is not all that necessary with this recipe because lentils are only deficient in two essential amino acids methionine and cysteine and skim milk powder has an abundance of these two amino acids.

Ninja Food Diet-Powder     

To make a month’s supply you will need:

Skim Milk Powder – 64 servings (~15$)

Milled flax seed – 32 servings (~5$ no need to buy the expensive one)

Lentils – 96 servings (~8$)

A mixture of nuts and seeds – 32 total serving’s worth (~10$ no need to buy expensive nuts and seeds)

A day supply is hard to make (you will understand if you try) but you would need:

2 servings of skim milk powder

1 serving of milled flax

3 servings of lentils

1 servings of a mixture of nuts and seeds

Have a little extra to account for some loss during preparation.

Preparation is easy, but can take some time if you are comfortable in the kitchen 1 hour.

  1. Prepare the lentils into a lentil floor (alternatively you could directly buy lentil floor, but make sure it is “whole lentil” lentil floor so you are getting all the protein and nutrients). Using a blender, a coffee grinder, or a food processor grind up some of the lentils. Then using a fine mesh sieve, sift the lentils, keep the floor and put the large pieces back into the machine you are using. Repeat this process until you have the lentil floor that you need (I store the leftovers and use them in soup).
  2. Prepare the nuts and seeds into a near butter. Using the same machine, grind up the nuts and seeds until they are fine, it is okay if they become a bit like a nut butter, you don’t want any large pieces.
  3. Gradually kneed lentil floor into the nuts and seeds mixture until they have been completely combined. I find it is best to do this by hand, so make sure your hands are nice and clean before you get them messy. The oil you feel on your hands is mostly natural unprocessed nut oils which are good for you (if you bought oil roasted nuts you may be feeling some of that oil). I have discovered this is a little easier to do with a bit of extra virgin olive oil on your hands.
  4. Add the resulting mixture with the skim milk powder and milled flax (which don’t normally need any additional grinding). Mix well and you are done.


A month’s supply of this is heavy and takes up a lot of space. I used a brand new clean garbage bag (two actually double layered) in the final mixing stages, and I happened to have containers large enough to store all of this stuff.

This powder is quite versatile it can be used to make shakes or no-bake cookies.

With my ingredients I get about 640 calories a day 180 from fat (1.9 grams saturated 18.1 grams unsaturated), 54 grams of protein and 37.1 grams of fiber. This comes out to about 192 total grams of powder a day this is about 1.5 cups of powder. To make a shake I mix ½ cup of powder (4 ounces) with 6-8 ounces of water. To make no bake ninja cookies (sometimes I call them ninja food pills when I roll them into balls) mix the powder with 1/3 by mass as much water so if you have a pound of powder mix it with 1/3 pound of water. When making ninja cookies I lucked out and could use a tablespoon of prepared dough and get really close to 1/12 a daily serving. (With 53 calories and 4.5 grams of protein, 3.1 grams of fiber these little cookies are very filling.)

When I run out of this powder I am going to be making a vegan version for myself to test. I want to see if there is a difference in hunger suppression effectiveness. I made a vegan version for a client and I am getting very positive feedback. As is this powder is very bland, it has a bit of a plant flavor and a bit of a nut flavor, but its blandness is a good thing. This powder is easy to flavor, I have used chocolate milk and other flavored beverages.

You do not have to use this or anything special to diet, but one thing is for sure you should find what works for you. I believe that all people can get healthy, including you, good luck.


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