Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Calorie Delusion

The chiropractor that I am seeing subscribes to this magazine called “New Scientist”, and I must confess that I arrive at his office early just so that I can sit for a few minutes and read an article or two before I am called in. This magazine contains information from articles from all different scientific journals which are deemed to be important, which allows people to keep up to date on current events in the science world. The last article that I read was really interesting and I thought I would share some of the key points of it. The article is called “The Calorie Delusion” and the cover of this particular issue of the magazine was really intriguing; it had a picture of two identical hamburgers and it said, “These burgers are identical…but one will make you fatter.” I thought, "Huh?"

What they went into explaining is how some nutrition fact labels may be off by up to 25% of the calorie content. Think about that for a minute. If all nutrition labels were off by 25%, then that could be a huge amount of calories depending on the product. Something that holds 80kcals might actually contain 100kcals (or 60kcals), which means that a person would be consuming 20 extra calories (or 20 less) with the one product. Taking in an extra 20kcals than you need per day for a year can contribute to an increase in one kg of fat accumulation in that year. At first when I started to get into the article I thought, “Oh great! Time to freak people out by making them think that they’re eating more calories than they realize.” But the more that I read, the more I began to see where they were coming from. You see, they explained how the way they analyze the calorie content of food is way outdated (created in the 19th century) and do not take into consideration the variable of digestion (the energy needed to break down and move food along the GI tract).

Something especially worthy of note is the fact that something like a brownie may have fewer calories than a muesli bar, but since the muesli bar is full of protein and fiber, it will use more energy to digest it and there will be less calories actually absorbed, which in turn should lower the caloric content of the bar. Makes sense?? They also said that foods that are softer tend to hold a higher caloric content because the body will be able to absorb more calories since the body will use less energy to break it down. There was a study that was carried out which proved that people who eat firmer foods tend to have smaller waistlines. So eat your raw vegetables people!!!

So back to the identical hamburgers on the cover of the magazine. The more cooked the patty of the burger is, the higher the caloric content the meat holds. Sounds crazy right? Well it’s not. The longer the patty is cooked, the more the proteins in the meat are broken down which makes it easier to digest; therefore the body is able to absorb more calories from the meat. If the meat is rawer then the GI tract had to work harder to break down the proteins and more of the meat is able to be passed through the body untouched and unabsorbed. I guess this means that the bloodier your steak is, the better it is for you. Gross.

1 comment:

  1. That is my favourite magazine of all time! My subscription just finally started coming to my new address but I missed that issue. Thanks for catching me up ;)