This week we’re breaking down what calories are! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A calorie is actually just a unit that measures energy. One calorie (cal) is the approximate amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere. The unit we use to talk about food and energy expenditure is actually the Kilocalorie (Kcal or Cal, with a capital C). This is equivalent to 1000 calories with a small C. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Calories are so important because they are literally energy! Our bodies cannot function without them. Every organ needs a certain amount to do what it does, and this amount varies from person to person and from condition to condition.
Nowadays, most food companies just use previously established numbers, called the Atwater factors, in equations to estimate how many Kcals to put on their food labels. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
However, some studies have shown that, due to these estimations and the fact that they are all based on old data, a lot of the established Kcal values for foods are actually underestimated! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So let’s get some things straight ... ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1- Labels are not always right!
2- Calories are not all created equal.
3- It’s all based on relatively old science. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Of course, it’s nice to have an idea of what’s in the food we are eating; however, calorie counting just isn’t helpful or sustainable. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
First of all it’s way too much math to be doing on a daily basis when the numbers are all based on estimations anyway. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Second, it could lead to restriction of healthy foods that our body needs.
Finally, energy balance is not really as simple as “calories in, calories out”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The bottom line is that calories are important because they are the literal fuel our bodies need to keep us alive. Knowing what’s in our food and what’s going into our bodies is important; however, relying on food labels and counting calories religiously is neither sustainable nor helpful!