Nutrition 1966


What can we learn from a 1966 college-level nutrition textbook? Let’s find out…

…and be sure to check out the gallery of selected pages below.

Weston Price photos in a 1966 nutrition textbook!


page 6, Eskimo mothers and Masai chief vs European


page 163, Effect of mineral-poor diets on face and teeth vs native diets

If you don’t know who Weston Price was, here’s an excerpt from the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s website. It’s a great source of nutrition information, and one of the best websites I found early on in my nutrition exploration.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.

None of my more recent nutrition textbooks, circa 2010-2012, dares to mention Weston Price!

  • Nutrition – Science and Applications 2nd ed – L. Smolin, M. Grosvenor (Wiley, 2010)
  • Nutrition – Concepts and Controversies 12th ed – F. Sizer, E. Whitney (Cengage, 2010)
  • Nutrition for Healthy Living 2nd ed. – W. Schiff (McGraw-Hill, 2011)
  • Understanding Nutrition 12th ed – E. Whitney, S. Rolfes (Cengage, 2011)
  • Nutritional Sciences – From Fundamentals to Food 2nd ed – M. McGuire, K. Beerman (Cengage, 2011)
  • Nutrition and You 2nd ed – J. Blake (Pearson, 2012)

Why you need Sodium and Potassium on low carb diets


page 401, Ingestion of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets

“Just as there is a limit to the degree to which soluble substances can be concentrated by the kidney, so there is a limit to the acid-base range within which urine can be excreted. Normally the acid-base balance of the diet is well within the functional range of the kidney. The chief acidic products of the diet are sulfates and phosphates formed in the process of protein metabolism. The organic acids found in most fruits and vegetables do not yield acid residues because they are oxidized in metabolism to carbon dioxide and water and are accompanied in the foods by large amounts of potassium and other basic elements. The most frequently encountered instance in which large amounts of acidic substances must be excreted is when fat is incompletely oxidized in the body and acidic intermediate products of its metabolism (ketone bodies, see p. 388) accumulate, as in starvation and diabetes. Ingestion of extremely high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets has this same effect. Under these conditions, basic elements (chiefly sodium and potassium) are required for their neutralization, and thus they are lost from the body.”

So this is why you should ensure you get enough sodium and potassium on a low carb diet.

Experimental Work on Obesity


page 457, Miller and Payne “…found the caloric intakes required to keep body weight constant varied with individuals over a wide range”

Here’s a section from the above-pictured page, discussing the classic Miller and Payne study, Miller, D. S, and P. R Payne. “Weight Maintenance and Food Intake.” The Journal of Nutrition 78, no. 3 (November 1, 1962): 255–262.

“Recent experiments seem to indicate that certain factors hitherto not taken into consideration may be operative, and these raise questions as to whether it is possible to express the energy required for weight maintenance with the degree of mathematical accuracy formerly assumed. It may be that the total amount of calories needed depends to some extent on the relative proportions of the three classes of energy nutrients provided in the diet and to adaptive body mechanisms.”

Once again we see that weight change may not be as simple as calories in, calories out (CICO), and that what you eat may impact energy needs.

I find this whole section (pages 457-459) fascinating, and recommend reading it all if you have time. You can view the full section in the gallery below.

Here’s the conclusion of the section:

“In conclusion, modern research (as exemplified by experiments previously cited) has raised the question whether the potential energy value of foods (as determined by oxidation outside the body) is a true measure of the energy they necessarily provide for the work of the body and upkeep and building of tissues. Although the answer is still imperfectly understood, it may well be that the actual amount of energy yielded by fuel nutrients in the body varies under different circumstances and with different proportions of the fuel nutrients. This gives emphasis to the statement (made in Chapter 7) that figures given related to the energy value of the diet required for weight maintenance are only approximate estimates. Such estimates apply fairly well to certain individuals under definite conditions, yet they may show considerable individual variability according to how efficiently the body is able to utilize the food energy by converting it into forms available for body use.”

This is real science–stating where uncertainties exist and mentioning other possibilities. Such a contrast to the surety found in today’s nutrition experts.

Nutrition 1966

Gallery of selected pages

(click on images to view them gallery-style)

There’s so much interesting stuff here for those interested in our nutrition past. Enjoy!


Origins of Calorie Counting

100 Calorie Portions of a Few Familiar Foods

  • 1886 – First public mention of “calorics”
  • 1887 – Calories as food energy first explained
  • 1896 – Birth of calorie counting concept
  • 1906 – Measure food by calories instead of weight
  • 1918 – First bestselling calorie counting diet book

You might be wondering, dear reader, as a person mildly to very interested in nutrition and health, why would you care about the history and origin of calories and calorie counting?

Well, maybe you’ve just wanted to know where it all started, but never had the time to dig deeply into the history and origins of calorie counting. Somebody must have been the instigator. Who was it? And what was the timeline of how calorie counting got rolling and continues to this day?

Unless you’re a nutrition historian, you may not really care about this subject at all. But if you are one of the few who do, this post is for you – the intersection of calorie counting origins, history, and science.

Calorie Counting Origins

For a timeline of historical documents related to the origins of calorie counting, see this page, Calorie Counting Timeline.

Edward Atkinson
Edward Atkinson

1886: Atkinson – The Food Question in America and Europe or The Public Victualing Department

  • First mention of “calorics” (calories) in public magazine, The Century
  • Inventor of the Aladdin oven, saving fuel, cooking effort, and food costs
  • Successful entrepreneur and executive of cotton mills
  • Interested in dietetics and home economics

it will appear in Professor Atwater’s future treatment of this subject that, although the standard rations which have been established as necessary to sustain a workingman in full vigor by several leading authorities in Germany, France, and England vary somewhat in the relative proportions of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, yet when reduced to calorics, or mechanical units, or equivalents of heat, they correspond almost exactly each to the other.

—Edward Atkinson, 1886, The Century magazine, The Food Question in America and Europe or The Public Victualing Department

Wilbur O. Atwater
Wilbur O. Atwater

1887: Atwater – The Potential Energy of Food; The Chemistry and Economy of Food III.

  • Public introduction of calories, calorimetry, calorimeters, and potential energy of food
  • Introduction of standard calorie values of protein, carbohydrates, and fats: 4.1, 4.1, 9.3, respectively—the original Atwater values
  • Professor of Chemistry, father of nutrition science in America
  • Seminal article on calories as fuel values of food and the conversion of potential energy into work and heat
  • Measuring food amounts in calories was initially a way to ensure food economy–getting enough food at lowest cost–in an era of widespread undernourishment

Modern physical science has taught how to measure the potential energy in combustible materials. The apparatus used is called a calorimeter, and the energy measured by the amount of heat produced in burning the substances with oxygen, the equivalent of the heat in terms of mechanical energy being quite definitely known. The amounts of potential energy in different food-materials have been measured this way. …

Since these German researches are very recent and have not yet been made accessible to English readers, I could hardly expect to be excused if I did not give at least an inkling of the details. …

Taking our ordinary food-materials as they come, and leaving out slight differences due to the differences in digestibility, etc., Dr. Rubner has made the following general estimate of the amounts of energy in one gram of each of the three principal classes of nutrients. The Calorie, which is the unit commonly employed in these calculations, is the amount of heat which would raise the temperature of a kilogram of water one degree centigrade (or a pound of water 4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Potential Energy in Nutrients of Food

—Wilbur O. Atwater. The Potential Energy of Food; The Chemistry and Economy of Food III., The Century Magazine, 1887

Edward Atkinson
Edward Atkinson

1896: Atkinson (again) – The Science of Nutrition, Treatise Upon the Science of Nutrition, Fourth Edition.

  • Birth of calorie counting concept — “we may even put the whole art of nutrition … into the common school arithmetics, in the form of examples of addition, multiplication and the like”
  • Introduced the Calorie as the “unit of nutrition”
  • “…at the very beginning of … a true Science of Nutrition”

…it has become apparent that we were at the very beginning of what will be necessary in order to establish a true Science of Nutrition…

When the chemical units of nutrition in all these various dietaries are computed in units of heat or Calories they are all substantially uniform–through this conversion the computation of standard dietaries becomes very simple and can be varied according to the age, sex and the kind of work for which the food is to supply energy.

If we may now adopt the Calorie as the unit of nutrition, it becomes a very simple matter to prepare rules and tables that shall be a true guide to intelligent persons in the purchase and in the consumption of food; not day by day, but by the adoption of standards corresponding in every way to the chemical elements and to the units of heat, say for thirty days. I think we may even put the whole art of nutrition by and by, into the common school arithmetics, in the form of examples of addition, multiplication and the like

The Calorie or mechanical unit of heat may well be adopted as the unit of capacity for work either mental or manual–either with hand or brain. …

In order to make allowance for unavoidable waste we may safely adopt 4,000 Calories as the average units of nutrition for a man at active but not excessive work for one day. …

This is a sketch of the elements of the science or art of nutrition which may perhaps be perfected and may possibly be taught in the common school arithmetics.

—Edward Atkinson. The Science of Nutrition, Treatise Upon the Science of Nutrition, Fourth Edition. 1896 (original copyright 1892)

Irving Fisher
Irving Fisher

1906: Irving Fisher – A new method for indicating food values

  • Promoted measuring food by calories instead of by weight
  • Introduced the 100 calorie standard portion
  • Advocated his method of expressing food values visually in geometrical representation
  • Well-known Yale economist, perhaps most famous for proclaiming in 1929 that the stock market had reached “a permanently high plateau” just prior to the Wall Street crash

… Dr. J. H. Kellogg of the Battle Creek Sanatorium devised a table in which, instead of the percentages [by weight] of Atwater and Benedict, the number of calories of proteid, fat, and carbohydrate for each food-stuff is specified. In addition to this, he provided his patients with a menu card on which the weight of each food as served at the table, and the calories of proteid, fat, and carbohydrate are printed. All the weighing is done in the kitchen, and the patient needs merely to check on his menu the articles eaten. His physician then makes the remaining computation, which consists in adding the calories of proteid, fat, and carbohydrate, and totals.

The method to be presented in the present paper is designed to still further save labor and at the same time to visualise the magnitude and proportions of the diet. It is similar to that just described in that it measures the food by calories instead of by weight, but differs from it in that it substitutes for the ounce, as the fundamental element, a “standard portion” of 100 calories. In order to carry out this method, foods should be served at the table in “standard portions” or simple multiples thereof.

—Irving Fisher. A new method for indicating food values. Am. Journal of Physiology, vol.15, p.417, 1906
Lulu Hunt Peters
Lulu Hunt Peters

1918: Lulu Hunt Peters – Diet and Health with Key to the Calories

  • Physician, newspaper columnist, and author of first blockbuster diet book in America
  • Wacky, funny, outspoken popularizer of calorie counting as means of weight loss
  • How to calculate your normal or ideal weight
  • The most influential book on calorie counting

Now you know that a calorie is a unit of measuring heat and food. It is not heat, not food; simply a unit of measure.

You should know and also use the word calorie as frequently, or more frequently, than you use the words foot, yard, quart, gallon, and so forth, as measures of length and of liquids. Hereafter you are going to eat calories of food. Instead of saying one slice of bread, or a piece of pie, you will say 100 Calories of bread, 350 Calories of pie.

Can you see now why fats are valuable? Why they make fat more than any other food? They give off more than two and one-fourth times as much heat, or energy, as the other foods.

By the rule I have given, adults require 15-20 Calories per pound per day, depending upon activity. For example, if you have no physical activities, then take the lowest figure, 15. 150×15—2250. Therefore your requirement, if your weight should be 150, is 2250 Calories per day.

Now, if you want to lose, cut down 500-1000 Calories per day from that.

Five hundred Calories equal approximately 2 ounces of fat. Two ounces per day would be about 4 pounds per month, or 48 pounds per year. Cutting out 1000 Calories per day would equal a reduction of approximately 8 pounds per month, or 96 pounds per year. These pounds you can absolutely lose by having a knowledge of food values (calories) and regulating your intake accordingly. You can now see the importance of a knowledge of calories.

If you want to gain, add gradually 500-1000 Calories per day.

1 lb. fat 4000 C
1/2 lb. fat 2000 C
1/4 lb. fat 1000 C
1/8 lb. fat 500 C

Any food eaten beyond what your system requires for its energy, growth, and repair, is fattening, or is an irritant, or both.

Chapter 7 Exercise
It is practically impossible to reduce weight through exercise alone, unless one can do a tremendous amount of it. For the food that one eats is usually enough to cover the energy lost by the exercise.

Chapter 8 At Last! How to Reduce
Nature Always Counts
Usually, if you have gained when you think you ought not to, it is because Nature has been counting calories and you haven’t.

Maintenance Diet
The maintenance diet is one which maintains you at your present weight, i.e., you are not gaining or losing. You may be over or under normal, but are staying there. The intake equals the outgo.
When you eat less than your maintenance diet, you are going to supply the deficiency with your own fat.

Third Order
You Are Down to Business
Now you will have to reckon on the amount of food or number of calories you need per day. Review the rule I have given. You find for your age and normal weight that you will need, let us say for example, 2200 calories. You have probably been consuming twice that amount and either storing it away as fat or as disease. (It is surprising how small an excess will gradually add up pounds of fat. For instance, three pats of butter or three medium chocolate creams a day, if over the maintenance limit, would add approximately 27 pounds a year to your weight!) — And Maybe Diabetes

Now you are to reduce your maintenance diet—the 2200 calories we are taking for example—to 1200 calories—quite a comfortable lot, you will find.

You will be surprised how much 1200 calories will be if the food is judiciously selected.

You may be hungry at first, but you will soon become accustomed to the change. I find that dry lemon or orange peel, or those little aromatic breath sweeteners, just a tiny bit, seem to stop the hunger pangs; or you may have a cup of fat-free bouillon or half an apple, or other low calorie food. (Count the calories here.)

One thousand calories less food per day equals four ounces of fat lost daily—approximately 8 pounds per month. If you do not want to lose so fast, do not cut down so much.

Fourth Order
You may eat just what you like—candy, pie, cake, fat meat, butter, cream—but—count your calories! You can’t have many nor large helpings, you see; but isn’t it comforting to know that you can eat these things?

You will be tempted quite frequently, and you will have to choose whether you will enjoy yourself hugely in the twenty minutes or so that you will be consuming the excess calories, or whether you will dislike yourself cordially for the two or three days you lose by your lack of will power.

Count your calories.

Every once in a while you hear that the caloric theory has been exploded. There is no caloric “theory.” Therefore none to explode. Calories are simply units for measuring heat and energy and never will be exploded any more than the yard or meter “theory” will be exploded. Foods must contain essential salts and the growth and health maintaining elements. These cannot be measured by calories. The quantity of heat or energy production but not the quality of the foods is measured in calories, and one must have a knowledge of the qualities also. No scientifically educated individual has ever thought otherwise.

—Lulu Hunt Peters, A.B., M.D. Diet and Health with Key to the Calories. The Reilly and Lee Co. Chicago. 1918.

Now you know where calorie counting came from, who started it, and when.

Asking the Right Questions (about Calories)

Welcome. Let’s jump right in.

Perhaps the reason we seem to have an endless debate about the validity of the Calories In/Calories Out (CICO) model of weight loss, known as caloric balance or even more technically as energy balance, is that we are so stuck and entrenched in conventional wisdom and patterns of thinking that we cannot really see outside the box we inhabit when we think about calories, what I like to call the “calories paradigm.”

Here’s how I define the calories paradigm: that we can and should measure our food in calories, all calories are the same, and that calories are all that matter when it comes to weight gain and loss.

Maybe we’re not getting the right answers because we really are asking the wrong questions. We keep asking the same old tired questions and getting the same old debates.

Experts say this, debunkers say that. Who’s right?

You have to ask the right questions about calories and calorie counting, if you want the right answers. Ask the questions nobody asks, questions a beginner would ask.

Gary Taubes wrote in September 2011, “Catching up on lost time – the Ancestral Health Symposium, food reward, palatability, insulin signaling and carbohydrates, kettles, pots and other odds and ends (with some philosophy of science as a special added attraction). Part I.” (yeah, crazy long blog post title, I know) (emphasis added)

This is why, as Kuhn explained in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, his seminal thesis on paradigm shifts, the people who invariably do manage to shift scientific paradigms are “either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change…”

So when a shift does happen, it’s almost invariably the case that an outsider or a newcomer, at least, is going to be the one who pulls it off . . .

This is why a common and understandable response to any challenge to the existing paradigm – to the conventional wisdom, in effect – from an outsider is this: “who the hell are you (or am I) to be questioning us? You’re not a member of the priesthood. Not an upper wizard of the stratosphere. You haven’t trained in the field. You haven’t proven yourself. You haven’t done, in effect, what we have done; you haven’t learned what we have learned. You didn’t have the necessary apprenticeship in the relevant arts. Bug off!” …

As Kuhn explained, shifting a paradigm includes not just providing a solution to the outstanding problems in the field, but a rethinking of the questions that are asked, the observations that are considered and how those observations are interpreted, and even the technologies that are used to answer the questions. In fact, often the problems that the new paradigm solves, the questions it answers, are not the problems and the questions that practitioners living in the old paradigm would have recognized as useful.

Plain and simple, I’m no expert in nutrition. I haven’t learned what they have learned. All I have is the past five years of research into the validity of calorie counting.

I have been studying and answering the question:

Is calorie counting the correct theory of weight loss?

This is the beginning of an open-ended series laying out what I’ve learned about calories and the validity of calorie counting as a weight loss strategy. It will be wide-ranging, from the beginnings of nutrition science to the historical origins of calorie counting and metabolism research; to language and terminology used to discuss calories; and ultimately to the real physics of weight loss. Energy balance will be extensively explored and analyzed in great depth. I’ll go back to first principles to see whether our belief in calorie counting really makes any sense scientifically or is just the fad Lulu Hunt Peters started in 1918 when she wrote the first bestselling diet book in America, Diet and Health With Key to the Calories. It’s likely the craziest diet book you’ve ever seen, complete with stick figures drawn by “The Author’s Small Nephew.” It’s the fad that caught on and stayed on for the past century.

Here’s a high-level summary and guide to all this series will cover, answering the question above:

Despite a century of belief, calorie counting still cannot accurately predict weight loss because nutrition science has confused the language of calories, ignored the history of metabolism research, and misinterpreted the fundamental physics of weight loss.

Let’s get started. Here are some of the questions this series will explore:

  • If eating too many calories makes you gain weight, then how much does a calorie weigh? — or simply, “How much does a calorie weigh?”
  • Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim wrote in Why Calories Count (2012), “Although calories are essential to human health and survival, they cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted.” — So how can invisible, intangible calories affect your weight?
  • When you lose weight where does it go? What goes?
  • How does anything gain weight? by gaining energy? or by gaining mass?
  • Standing in hot sunlight, you literally gain heat energy (calories) — Do you weigh more? Does your phone gain weight when you charge it?
  • What is an excess calorie? When have I overeaten?
  • Does the type of food matter? What about the weight of food?
  • Do 3500 calories actually equal a pound of weight?
  • Do calories actually cause weight gain and loss or are they merely associated with weight change?
  • How much will you weigh tomorrow (exactly)? Why can’t nutrition science tell me? Why is there no exact, quantifiable, testable theory of weight loss?
  • How can energy balance theory be correct when it doesn’t fit all observations and doesn’t always make accurate predictions?
  • Why do incorrect weight loss predictions in studies never invalidate energy balance?
  • Why is nutrition and weight loss such an inexact science?
  • Why do you get sleepy after lunch but your car doesn’t? You both burn carbon-based fuel with oxygen to produce energy, carbon dioxide, and water. Somehow some of your food energy becomes unavailable. Why?

Whew! Had enough yet? Well, I’m not quite through….

  • What did W.O. Atwater, the father of calories and nutrition in the US, know about measuring both the “balance of matter” (ingesta vs excreta) and the “balance of energy” to get the full picture of metabolism?
  • Is human calorimetry (the science behind energy balance) valid science? Is indirect calorimetry very accurate? Can you accurately measure all the internal work and heat of the body? Even in a full-body respiration calorimeter (direct calorimetry)?
  • Why do we measure food in calories instead of by weight (when we want to understand weight changes)? When did we switch?
  • What was our understanding of weight loss before calories were discovered?
  • Does energy balance always guarantee weight maintenance, i.e., constant weight?
  • How can weight loss be about calories and only calories when calories are energy, and weight is a measurement of mass?
  • If calorie counting is wrong, then what?
  • Is it possible that nutrition scientists don’t understand the physics of weight loss? at the most basic level?
  • What does thermodynamics have to do with weight loss?
  • What is the history and origin of calorie counting?
  • Who were the major players in early metabolism research? from Sanctorius (1614) to Atwater (1887-1907)
  • Why is it wrong to speak of “eating” and “burning” calories?
  • Why does a low calorie diet sound good, but a low energy diet sound bad?
  • Why is concentrated, energy-dense fuel good for rockets and cars—more efficient—but not for humans?

Wow, a long list. So much to explore.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come…

There’s a question no one who believes in calorie counting ever asks:

If eating too many calories makes you gain weight,
“How much does a calorie weigh?”

Here’s what they want you to believe: that something with no mass (calories are energy), that you can’t touch, taste, feel, smell, or pick up, is what determines and causes your weight to change.

Have we all lost our minds?

When you add fuel to your car, it weighs more, right? So how would you calculate the new weight of your car after you added the fuel? Would you:

a) Find the energy density of the fuel and calculate how much energy was in the volume of fuel you added, then use some conversion formula (3500 kcal = 1 pound, for example) to tell you how much weight the car should have gained from that amount of energy, or,

b) Just weigh the volume of fuel you added and add that to the initial weight of the car

We are all so stuck in the calories paradigm we can’t think outside the box to see how ridiculous it is. That’s why we need to think of other situations and analogs to break us out of established patterns and understand what’s really going on.

You and your car are very similar in many ways. You both use hydro-carbon based fuel, gasoline or diesel for the car, fats and carbs for you. You both combine the fuel with oxygen to produce energy and the end products of the reaction: carbon dioxide and water. You both excrete the carbon dioxide and water, as exhaust in the car, and by expired breath in you.

This is how you actually lose weight, all the time, by exhaling carbon dioxide and water vapor. You typically lose about 30-40 grams per hour this way (The Nature of the Insensible Perspiration, Benedict, 1927). It’s not the calories that cause you to lose weight. It’s the mass loss of carbon dioxide and water vapor (the waste products of cellular respiration), along with other body excretions such as urine and undigested food (feces), and other tiny losses from dead skin, hair, and water evaporating from skin.

Stay tuned!

PS: If you’re itching to learn more about the history and origins of calorie counting right now, read this excellent article, Counting Calories, by Chin Jou.