Why weight loss is not your goal - Calories part 2

Continuing with the theme of why weight loss should not be your goal when January comes around, in this post I'll look at what is a calorie.............

Lots of people hate the term ‘calorie’, and lots of people say, "I don't count calories", but what is a calorie?

A calorie refers to how much energy is in food. A calorie is a unit of energy which relates to the amount of energy required to raise a gram of water by 1 degree. However, what you see written on food labels is Kcal, the K reflects the use of the metric system and means Kilogram Calorie, or equal to 1000 small calories! It was introduced to the world in 1824 as a unit of heat and like most old things is poorly defined for modern life.

So, does it have any relevance to humans and movement. Not really is the obvious answer. We should see the food we eat in terms of energy and nutrients. But if we put the nutrient aspect to one side for now and focus purely on the energy side.

We evolved in an energy sparse environment and so our bodies became efficient at using what little was about. So, in terms of calories, one calorie could contain enough energy to climb a flight of stairs. It would be easier if it was one step was one calorie, but it is not. Here the other thing for consideration is our genetics and one person may be naturally more efficient at movement and use less energy than someone else for the same task. There are lots of other factors as well, age, stress, height, weight etc all play a part.

The processed food we eat in current times is so energy dense that controlling energy intake is almost impossible, this doesn’t mean don’t try, but aim to introduce small healthy habits like drinking more water, eating unprocessed foods and better portion control to be a healthier you.

Another factor for consideration in how food calories are decided upon before the food label is printed and their accuracy. Once upon a time there was a contraption called a Bomb Calorimeter, and this measured the actual temperature of water raised by the burning food. However more recently companies will estimate the contents based on protein, fat, carbohydrate contents. In a recent case study of sausages manufactured by Porky Whites, their "light" version Porky Lights, came into some difficulty with the Slimming World notoriously accurate Sin system. Irrelevant of your and my opinion of Slimming World or Porky Lights, it highlighted the lack of a standardised process of determining the calorific value on food labels. So, you must ask, can they be trusted, and will you ever know the true value of the energy you are putting into your body if you consume processed food products?

In part 3 of this series I'll be addressing the different calories available to us and why not all calories are created equal.

I have a caveat on all blogs. Because I have the attention span of a small child I try to keep all blogs as short as possible, however the issue of health, fitness and food is complex, and one issue can never be discussed in isolation as, so many factors overlap. If you disagree with what has been said, please message me and I'm more than happy to discuss all topics with anyone.

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