Here’s the thing about calories: A calorie is a unit of heat.
It is not a unit of food. It’s not a unit of movement. It’s a unit of how much heat a food gives off when it is burned — not “used for energy by the body,” but literally BURNED.
Do you know how they determine the calorie content of food? They put the food in a capsule surrounded by water, run an electrical current through the food till it becomes ash, and then measure the change in temperature of the water. That’s exactly what happens in the digestive system, right?
Uh… no. Our bodies don’t set food on fire.
Nowadays they don’t even do this to determine calorie content. They add up the grams of fat, carbs, and protein and calculate it.
Moreover, food is not “energy,” nor is it heat. It’s matter. It’s “stuff.”
Something has to be done to matter in order for it to produce energy, and that something may or may not actually get done.
Also, if we’re talking about weight loss, body fat doesn’t necessarily have to be turned into energy in order to leave the body. It’s possible that triglycerides could leave fat cells and be directed via the liver to the bowels for direct removal. (I’m actually not entirely sure whether that happens or not, but the point is that it’s possible to move “stuff” around without turning it into energy.)
Our bodies aren’t steam engines. We don’t function by having a heat source mechanically move our cells around. Calories-in-calories-out is a painful over-simplification.
Everyone knows that a car can get better gas mileage with proper maintenance, and they never say “Calories in, calories out, it’s a law of physics.” But when it comes to our bodies, somehow we’re supposed to be less complex than a combustion engine.
A more in depth article on how calories are computed and why the calorie theory is wrong, can be found here. The Calorie Myth.
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