The Calorie Delusion

Posted on July 16, 2009  Comments (6)

The calorie delusion: Why food labels are wrong

Nutritionists are well aware that our bodies don’t incinerate food, they digest it. And digestion – from chewing food to moving it through the gut and chemically breaking it down along the way – takes a different amount of energy for different foods. According to Geoffrey Livesey, an independent nutritionist based in Norfolk, UK, this can lower the number of calories your body extracts from a meal by anywhere between 5 and 25 per cent depending on the food eaten.

Dietary fibre is one example. As well as being more resistant to mechanical and chemical digestion than other forms of carbohydrate, dietary fibre provides energy for gut microbes, and they take their cut before we get our share. Livesey has calculated that all these factors reduce the energy derived from dietary fibre by 25 per cent

“Cooking gives food energy,” says Wrangham. It alters the structure of the food at the molecular level, making it easier for our body to break it up and extract the nutrients.

In plants, for example, much of the energy from starch is stored as amylopectin, which is semi-crystalline, does not dissolve in water, and cannot be easily digested. Heat starchy foods with water, though, and the crystalline forms begin to melt. The starch granules absorb water, swell, and eventually burst. The amylopectin is shattered into short starch molecules called amylose, which are easily digested by the enzyme amylase.

It seems pretty obvious, just looking around, as you walk around in any city that people are much fatter, on average, than we were 20 years ago. And the data shows people were much larger (taller, but also fatter) 20 years ago than they were 100 years ago. And we know obesity causes many human health issues. The failure to address the obesity problem in the USA is another example of the failed “health care” system. Instead of a working health care system we just manage diseases that result for unhealthy living. We should be do better at providing information to people on healthy eating (including more accurate calorie counts as it concerns food we eat) and healthy lifestyle choices.

Related: Big Fat LieEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.Waste from Gut Bacteria Helps Host Control WeightObesity Epidemic Explained – Kind OfStudy Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as SmokingTracking the Ecosystem Within UsEnergy Efficiency of DigestionActive Amish Avoid Obesity

6 Responses to “The Calorie Delusion”

  1. Anonymous
    July 18th, 2009 @ 1:29 am

    You absolutely right… Obesity is the one of many healthy case due to the pattern of living and eating which is not right. Start healthy living by consumed fresh food and cooked properly. Calories consumed must be in accordance with the needs of the body. In addition, exercise regularly caused the body more healthy. Take more attention when reading the information of food composition that is written on the label because it could be not valid.

  2. Jesse
    July 31st, 2009 @ 5:18 am

    I have done a few research papers in college on obesity and the statistics are scary. People need to learn how to exercise and diet correctly so they don’t have to resort to costly surgery or medications for their weight problem

  3. Anonymous
    August 30th, 2009 @ 5:56 am

    Unfortunately, low carb diets and the Atkins Diet in particular received a lot of negative press, much of it caused by a basic misunderstanding of how the different food groups – carbohydrates, fats and proteins – are processed by the body. Since then, more clinical studies have been completed, from which it is becoming increasingly clear that the old beliefs about carbohydrates causing many people’s weight problems were right after all.

  4. Anonymous
    September 3rd, 2009 @ 8:54 am

    Unfortunately what people believe to be ‘proper nutrition’ is not proper at all. Even what is being taught in universities isn’t correct. Just look at all the so called healthy diet foods available in supermarkets. Nutritionists and dietitians are recommending people choose low fat diets and yet this is the very thing causing people to gain weight. Now Im not saying you should go binge on fatty foods. But definitely stay away from any food claiming to be ‘diet’ or ‘low fat’. These foods are glucose bombs!!!

    Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, nuts, eggs and please reduce your carbohydrate intake.

  5. Anonymous
    September 10th, 2009 @ 2:48 am

    Hi! one of the nice post and its very effective for the fat people,so its just one suggestion for you,don’t take medicine and just take light diet which makes you stay fit.keep up post cont………..:)Thanks.

  6. Pat
    July 13th, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    I couldn’t anymore agree with you. I sincerely believe the food and the health industry are working hand in hand to manage diseases instead of curing them. Most of the diseases which are over taking our health is the reason of poor diet. If the FDA wanted to keep us healthy, soft drink and potato chip company wouldn’t be in business. Those sodas, chips, doughnuts have no nutritional value in them. All they brought us over the years are sickness and diseases.

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