Flaxseeds are one of the highest-quality and most SANE foods around. Their high fiber content makes them Satisfying…they fill us up quickly and keep us full for a long time. They’re completely unAgressive, and are therefore unlikely to be stored as body fat. They’re also Nutritious thanks to all the clog-clearing and fat-burning omega-3 fatty acids in them. Finally, their high fiber content makes them inEfficient…we burn a bunch of calories digesting them.
Milled flaxseeds are the best way to get flaxseed oil (thanks to all the fiber, lignans, and nutrients found in the seeds themselves), but for the point of this post let’s focus on flaxseed oil.
Some people with very strong opinions about nutrition assume Calories In – Calories Out is all that matters because they assume all calories are the same and that calories are all that matter. Thousands of pages of academic research prove that opinion incorrect. Consider this flaxseed oil example.
Ask someone who has strong opinions in favor of eating less of our existing diet and doing more of traditional exercise if it is healthy to supplement your diet with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day. They will say yes.
Wait one week and ask them what they think causes us to gain body fat. They will say something like “An imbalance of Calories In – Calories Out…which is easily remedied if one exercises some discipline and eats less and spends more time on a treadmill.”
Wait one more week and ask them what they think about the 100 pounds of fat you’ll gain if you follow their advice about flaxseed oil for eight years. They will look stunned. They shouldn’t though. According to the traditional calorie quantity theory they have such strong opinions about, here’s what adding a tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day to your diet will cause: 119 calories in a tbsp. of flaxseed oil X 365 days per year X 8 years = 347,480 / 3,500 calories in a pound of fat = 99.28 lbs. of fat gained
That is how math works, but that’s not how biology works. We’ll step through myriad studies proving the difference between math and biology (and deal with the “Law of Thermodynamics” argument) in the coming weeks.
“The amount of misinformation about nutrition that is circulated widely, especially by those who profit from doing so, is overwhelming.” – researcher A.E. Harper, University of Wisconsin
[i] Harper AE. Dietary goals-a skeptical view. Am J Clin Nutr. 1978 Feb;31(2):310-21. Review. PubMed PMID: 341685.