What are calories and why calorie calories uneven?


Interest in the topic of calories is accumulated mainly on the occasion of holidays and fat Thursday. So we know that the donut, depending on the method of frying, stuffing inside and additives can have up to 400 calories, but what does this mean for us in practice? Check if you really need to worry about caloric values and what exactly are empty calories. 


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What are calories? 

By definition, 1 calorie cal is the amount of heat needed to heat 1 g of chemically pure water by 1 degree Celsius at a pressure of 1 atmosphere. How is the calorific value of a given product checked? To do this, you need to burn food in the so-called calorimetric bomb, in a device that measures the amount of heat released by the product from the moment of combustion. On the basis of the obtained result, it is determined how many calories the product has. 

It’s good to know that what we call calories is actually a kilocalorie (in short kcal). The concept of calorie is wrong, but nowadays it is used on a large scale also in publications and articles about food and nutrition. Kilocalories, in turn, is an outdated unit of warm energy that equals 1,000 calories. Today in physics, julks and kilojoules are used to describe heat, but in dietetics, the use of kilocalories is accepted. 

How many calories have individual food ingredients? 

Commonly, the so-called caloric value is used to calculate calories. Atwater equivalent, which refers to net energy, i.e. bio-available energy, obtained from food after taking into account digestibility and bioavailability. And so in food 

1 g protein = 4 kcal 

1 g fat = 9 kcal 

1 g carbohydrates = 4 kcal 

1 g of alcohol (ethyl) = 7 kcal 

1 g of organic acids = 3 kcal 

1 g polyols = 2.4 kcal 

1 g soluble fiber = 2 kcal 

1 g of salatrim = 6 kcal 

Salatrim is a mixture of short and long-chain triglycerides that is used for confectionery. 

Pursuant to the Regulation, from December 13, 2016 in Poland and other European Union countries regulations were introduced, obliging producers to provide (labeling) food packaging with information on its nutritional value, including energy value given in kilojoules kJ (in first place) and kilocalories kcal. The value on the labels is given per 100 g / ml and not necessarily on the portion of food. 

What are the so-called empty calories? 

At the beginning it should be noted that the term empty is imprecise, because emptiness assumes lack of something. This may mislead the idea that empty calories mean zero. Nothing more wrong! Behind the empty calories are simply energy units that do not positively affect our body – they are poor in minerals, vitamins, fiber, enzymes or phytochemicals, but they contain a lot of sugar. Simple carbohydrates that do not occur in the company of the above ingredients quickly raise sugar in the blood, which in the long run harms the body. By consuming empty calories you lead to addiction to sugar and glucose fluctuations, which can end with insulin resistance, and hence only a step to type 2 diabetes. 

Calorie calories uneven 

In the physical sense, each calorie is equal, but in the biochemical and physiological sense, that is, what it should depend on it is not always equal. In one of the studies in 2003, a study was conducted, in which a group of 50-year-olds used an identical slimming diet in terms of the amount of calories consumed, while with a completely different content of fats and carbohydrates. According to the rules of physics, each person should lose exactly the same weight, but it did not happen. After 12 weeks, it turned out that people on a low-fat diet lost an average of 8 kg, while those who used a diet with a reduced carbohydrate content – 10 kg. So instead of obsessively controlling the tables with caloric content, it’s better to focus on the benefits of using a given product. Rice wafers, or crisp bread, have very few calories, but they do not bring anything good to our body – they are highly processed carbohydrates and we eat them, eventually we provide some fiber, but also raise glucose in the blood. In turn, avocados or nuts are high in calories, but for our body they are definitely better than the aforementioned rice wafers. One avocado contains about 250 calories, but at the same time you can find a lot of B vitamins, vitamins E, C, K1, magnesium, potassium and beneficial fats – many of these compounds allow a fully efficient digestion process. Similarly with nuts – they contain a lot of minerals, fiber and valuable fatty acids, so that they are an excellent snack despite their high calorie. Both avocados and nuts have a high satiety index (feelings of filling the stomach) as well as low glycemic load. 

To sum up – when creating meals try to focus on their nutritional value, health-promoting properties, satiety and glycemic load. Caloricity should be one of the aspects of the assessment, but certainly not the main one. 


You can read also: The healthiest diet in the world

Posted on: May 27, 2019

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