Calorie counting is stupid

I get really annoyed by TV pundits and self-styled health experts/professionals going on about the calories in food, as though Calories are little poison pills placed in various items, which we negligently shove down our throats.

Do any of them know what calories are, or even how the numbers quoted are measured?

Cast your mind back to your Physics lessons at school. A calorie is a unit of heat energy and the Calorie (capital C), the one associated with food, is actually 1000 calories.
The Scientific definition of the calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.
So how do they measure the number of Calories in a food sample?
They use a device called a calorimeter, which burns a measured amount of food and measure how much heat is released.
The problem is that we don’t have a little furnace in our guts.
We don’t incinerate our food and turn it totally into carbon dioxide and water.

Our bodies don’t work that way.
Our bodies break foods down in specific chemical reactions. E.g. Bread tastes sweet, because we have an enzyme in our saliva, which immediately goes to work on the starch, breaking it down into sugars, which are more easily digested.

Conversely, paper is mainly cellulose, which is made from starch molecules, has a very high calorific value and will pass through our bodies unaltered.
It’s just like that other form of cellulose, beloved of nutritionists, roughage.
People eat it in brown bread and Bran cereals, because “it’s good for you”.
But our body can’t digest it.
All it does is pass through our intestines unchanged but thereby scraping the inner walls of our guts (like a scouring pad) loosening off any bits, which have stuck to them.
Those Calories don’t have any effect on you.

Consider wine.
If it’s a dry white wine, then it’s very low in sugars and its Calories are almost all alcohol.
Now, alcohol has a lot of Calories as can be seen when we flambé the Xmas pud.
However, when you drink it, you don’t belch flames.
Your body oxidises alcohol in stages.
In the first stage it’s converted into acetaldehyde.
A lot of that goes no further, because you breathe it out, as witnessed by the fact that this is what breathalyser’s measure. (I’d actually be interested to know whether any research has been done on how efficiently this is done by our varying  metabolism’s).
I don’t know the rest of the pathways possible.
The next stage would be to oxidise it to acetic acid (vinegar) and possibly onto Carbon dioxide and water; although some will sweat out.

Consider Lactulose. This is a sugar. It will not only burn but tastes the same as common sugar, yet it is used as a laxative, because our bodies can’t break it down and instead, it passes straight through like liquid paraffin, lubricating/softening solid waste “encouraging intestinal transit”.
There was a fat with a similar indigestibility, which was marketed as allowing people to eat cream cakes etc., without weight gain.
It was withdrawn because of the transit issue I.e. it caused what was politely termed anal leakage.
There needs to be better understanding of how different bodies treat different food stuffs, before we can judge what foods to eat and which to avoid.

Calorie counting is like a political truth:-  Deceitful.


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