Friday, December 25, 2009

The Calorie Lie

Disclaimer: The following post is a thought exercise. It is not intended to provide medical or nutritional advice. In general, you should probably not believe anything you read in this post unless you have verified it with your own doctor or to your own satisfaction.

The premise:
Calories as a measurement in food means very little to the point of almost nothing.

The caveat:
This doesn't mean that you can eat as many calories as you want. This means that calories aren't the number you're looking for to control weight.

What's a calorie?
Basically, it's the amount of heat required to raise one kilogram of water one degree Celsius (or its equivalent value of food when converted to energy in the body.)

Why is that considered important to diet?
Here's the problem. A person is considered to "consume" calories. A person doesn't consume calories. A person consumes fat, fiber, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. Calories are merely a byproduct (or measurement) of the consumption. Calories burned can tell you how much time/effort it takes to convert the amount of fat, fiber, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, etc into heat (supposedly, therefore not into fat). In essence, you aren't burning calories. You are converting food into heat/energy. How much heat it would take to do that ... that is calories.

What's the point?
In short, there are probably two numbers that make any difference to diet (weight loss): Carbohydrates (minus fiber content) and Fat. Keeping both numbers low (carbohydrates minus fiber in the 40-50g range per meal, for instance) would substantially reduce calorie count anyway (which, if one is counting calories, this would be bonus.) Following along, it's easy to see that raw fruits and vegetables (not grains like corn and wheat) are an easy accompaniment that can fill the "hunger" void without adding to the fat and carbohydrates numbers.

No comments:

Blog Archive