The idea of calorie counting and calorie restriction has been popular since the 15th century. In fact, the first record promoting calorie restriction dates back to Luigi Cornaro, a 35 year old Venetian noble, who adopted a very restricted diet of 350 grams of food a day in order to heal his sickly body. Cornaro lived to be almost a 100 years old.
Since Cornaro's success, the adage "a calorie is a calorie" has been viewed as canon. The concept is grounded on the fact that only the quantity of calories, and not its source, affect weight loss or weight gain. Recently however, the concept has been contested by medical professionals themselves.
Last month, Dr. David Ludwig, a professor from the Harvard Medical School, published a book entitled "Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain your Fat Cells and Lose Weight Permanently" which details the importance of the source of the calories and not just the amount of calories in determining weight loss.
"Our mantra is 'Forget calories. Focus on the quality of what you eat, and let your body do the rest" quipped Dr. Ludwig.
Ludwig argues that the process of gaining weight leads people to overeat more. He explain that people who indulge in highly processed food tend to crave more of it in the long run.
Not all experts are behind Ludwig's radical idea. Marion Nestle, a professor from New York University has since spoken out against Ludwig's concept. Nestle explains if losing weight is the goal of a diet then calorie counting is the way to go. He adamantly claims that eating less calories works everytime. He was however quick to elaborate on the fact that some kinds of calories do affect people's appetites and the overall health of an individual is still determined by the kinds of food they eat.