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Calories aren’t calories

June 12, 2019 3 min read

Calories aren’t calories

Don’t you just hate it when you forget to start your calorie counter before you begin exercising? I mean, you may as well not have exercised at all. Of course, there is the question of how accurate something attached to our wrist can be measuring something at an atomic level. My educated & common sense guess is that it cannot specifically tell us, but can give us a general estimate. However, a more critical question might be, is your body burning the calories you want it to burn? Or did you forget to tell it?

The age of mass-protest, mass-market, mass-hysteria, mass-production and most ‘likes’ has proven to take a toll on quality right across the board. Quantity is winning the war by a far stretch. Whoever speaks the loudest and most often, wins. Despite all the new age information on the diet war, there is still a preoccupation with calorie quantity over calorie quality. Society kind of knows we should eat well, but the overall calorie count on the package still reigns supreme. Unfortunately, in the government’s haste to inform the consumer they forgot to emphasize a few key facts about calories in food.

Calories have always existed in the food chain. Our prehistoric ancestors kept a nice reserve of calories on their bodies but didn’t quite have the mental or technological processing power to define or formularize it. Nor did they need to, as their value to the tribe didn’t necessarily hinge on how big their bum looked in a grass skirt. It wasn’t until the 1800s until we defined a formula for the kilo-calorie aka Calorie. The 1900s saw the kcal become ingrained in the food packaging & production culture. However, this is where food science and food consumption became curdled.

As governments and their trusted nutritional institutions became increasingly aware of energy consumption and storage, they saw it necessary to display the foods energy breakdown on packaging so that the consumer could make a more informed choice. However, the misinformed consumer mistakenly assumed that measuring a foods calorie content based on a lab experiment involving a Bunsen burner, had a very close correlation with how the calories may be used or stored on our body. Not so my dear Watson!

We all know that 200 calories of chicken breast is ‘better’ for us than 200 calories of table sugar, but we aren’t taking it on board and the ‘authorities’ really aren’t helping the matter. There is sound advice and labelling pertaining to macronutrient breakdown and, to a lesser degree, micronutrient breakdown. But despite that information the focus, in the consumer’s mind, remains squarely on calories in versus calories out, which is entirely wide of the mark.

If a petrol station displayed a sign saying, “your car will go 10% further on diesel”, would you view that sign as misleading? The fact is, a diesel engine with 50L of fuel probably does go about 10% further than an unleaded engine in the same make and model and with the same volume of petrol. Though the sign has neglected a vital bit of information regarding what type of fuel your engine is built for. You can fill your car with E10, regular 91, premium 98 or diesel and you will get different results in energy output, mileage and environmental impact, especially if you pump diesel into an unleaded engine. I wonder if we could take heed of this in our own energy consuming lives?

The fact is, humans were not built for high levels of processed sugar or trans-fats with little micronutrients. So, our engines will run extremely poorly when fed these. Give our species another 100,000 years and we may have evolved into candy bar consuming machines, but in the 21st century we are simply dicing with death. If you want your premium engine to run efficiently and effectively for long-time, fuel it with the good stuff. Vegetables, fruits, lean meats and good fats. We aren’t just trying to be party poopers, the science is in, common sense is in, follow it and feel the benefits now and in the future.

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