Calorie Counter Will Not Help

Calorie Counter Will Not Help
Ignore your calorie counter. And ignore the calorie count on food labels. Counting calories is a mindless strategy for choosing what you eat. Why? First off, understand that a calorie is a unit of heat. It isn't useful for metabolism. Once a calorie is released as heat, there is no putting it back.

Scientists define a calorie simply as the amount of heat necessary to raise a milliliter (cubic centimeter) of water one degree Celsius, at sea level and at room temperature. Consuming calories is like saying that you can eat heat.

Health professionals, trainers, nutritionists, and many other experts who ought to know better, wrongly equate food calories to metabolism. This is based on simple-minded reasoning that says calories from food provide you with energy. This is incorrect!

Now that you know what calories really are (i.e, heat), you can understand that the only thing they can do is effect temperature. They are important for maintaining body temperature, but that is all.

Do you realize how food calories are measured? We completely incinerate the food in a lab instrument called a bomb calorimeter. When a substance is completely burned up, until nothing except its charred remains are left, it has lost all the calories that it contained. When this is done in a bomb calorimeter, the amount of heat that is released is expressed as calories.

The total heat that can be released from food in a bomb calorimeter is well-known for the three main food groups: 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate or protein and 9 calories per gram of fat. However, these numbers reflect only the maximum caloric yield in a bomb calorimeter. This number has nothing to do with what your body gets from food. This is why the maximum caloric potential of foods is, indeed, a nearly useless criterion when it comes to weight loss.

The concept of calories works for bomb calorimeters, not for your body. The calorie count of foods is a maximum potential, not a metabolic potential. Your metabolism has nothing to do with food calories that are measured in a bomb calorimeter.

For one thing, you could never harvest all the energy out of food. You might get 10 or 20 percent of it, certainly no more than 30 percent. Sometimes you won't get any calories at all. Using a calorie counter tells you absolutely nothing about what your metabolism will do with different foods.

Consider this comparison: starch vs. cellulose. Cellulose is indigestible fiber, whereas starch is a source of food energy for humans. However, gram for gram, they both yield the same exact number of calories in a bomb calorimeter.

Furthermore, a calorimeter will measure the same number of calories from equivalent amounts of potato and celery (correcting for water content). Obviously, your body couldn't possibly do that.

Instead of comparing food metabolism to a furnace (calorimeter), it is vastly more meaningful to understand the fate of different foods upon digestion. This entails how they impact different kinds of cells and tissues, such as fat vs. muscle, and what happens to these tissues because of different foods.

A possibly surprising comparison for you is the difference between two nearly identical sugars, fructose and glucose. They yield the same number of calories per gram. However, glucose passes through the liver intact and serves a metabolic energy for many kinds of tissues, most notably muscle and liver. In contrast, fructose never escapes intact from the liver. This is why counting calories for even nearly identical foods is so useless.

Note that, as a consequence of consuming glucose vs. fructose, glucose serves your entire body whereas fructose has to be converted to something else before it can move out of your liver. That something else is largely fat, which has to be stored in fat cells. Simply put, glucose gives your body energy and fructose makes you fat. The identical caloric yield of these two sugars means nothing.

By the way, once you understand how misleading the calorie count is for different foods, you will be clearer about why calories have almost nothing to do with being overweight. Now chew on that concept for a while (pardon my pun), because it is the kind of clear thinking that will help you be truly successful in whatever weight management or fitness program that will work for you for a lifetime.

No comments:

Post a Comment