What The Hell is a Calorie!?

Every time some one I know starts “dieting” all they can talk about is calories. People are obsessed with calories! I don’t think most people even know what a calorie really is. I’m not even convinced they have very much to do with food value at all!So what is a calorie then? A calorie is a measure of energy. Specially, it’s the amount of heat put off by a carbohydrate, fat, or protein when it is burned in a flame. Now, I don’t know about you, but I know there’s no furnace in my belly!

The way the body really uses food is to break the food down into its fundamental parts so the body can use the food. It doesn’t work like a log on a fire. Carbohydrates are broken down to simpler sugars, proteins to amino acids, and fats to triglycerides. Proteins and fats both have structural uses within the body but carbohydrates are only used for energy.

Another important part of foods are vitamins and minerals, which are micronutrients. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are macronutrients. Just watching calories is a really poor way to gauge diet. Two people eating identical calorie count diets could have vastly different health due to micronutrient content. In fact, the healthiest diets generally are low calorie, but high micronutrient.

It’s possible to eat a very high calorie diet and still be hungry. This hunger is caused by a shortage of micronutrients in the diet. In fact, the standard American diet is the exact opposite of what is healthiest. Most Americans eat a high calorie low micronutrient diet.

The best way to get high nutrient food is to wild harvest it. But the next best way is to buy fresh food from local farms or grow it yourself. Food in the grocery store is usually quite old due to shipping and processing. Produce particularly starts to degrade in quality from the second it’s harvested.

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