Technically speaking, A Calorie is an energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. In an easier way, The amount of energy in the food determines how hot the water can get, So that’s why they describe food energy in terms of heat units.
We always hear that we need to decrease our total calorie intake in order to lose weight or raise our total calorie intake to gain weight or muscles.
Perhaps you have heard that fat contains 9 grams kcal per gram, carbs 4 kcal per gram & protein 4kcal per gram.
|Energy Source||Calories Per Gram|
But let’s take a closer look, how do they actually measure the heat coming out of a certain type of food? Well scientists measure the energy content of food by combusting the food (Lab examined)
And this brings up an important part, Humans are not bomb calorimeters. We respond to food differently, We can never know how many calories the body will digest & use for energy. Our bodies are complex machines & precise calorie counting is a waste of time.
In addition, Food labels are just approximations. Imagine trying to take a sample of every 40,000+ foods on grocery store shelves & calculate its calories.
And here are just few factors that can change the nutrient & energy content of foods.
- Outdated data
- Soil and growing conditions
- Imprecise analytical methods
- Method of cooking
- Ripeness at time of harvest
- Animals diets
All this means that Outside of a lab:
- We can’t know how many calories & nutrients we absorb
- We can’t know exactly how many calories & nutrients in our food
- We can’t know exactly how many calories and nutrients are used by the body through metabolism and movement.
At the end, My advice to you is don’t over consume your time on counting calories, Instead focus on getting clean, healthy food in considerate portions.