The Hidden Truths about Calories, by Scientific American Blog Network
Jason Belich stashed this in health
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We were discussing a few weeks back about calories and weight issues being more of a chemistry problem than raw energy problem... this article kind of rams that home a bit :-)
Fascinating article. Interesting example:
Nuts flagrantly do their own thing, which might be expected given that nuts are really seeds whose mothers are invested in having them escape digestion. Peanuts, pistachios and almonds all seem to be less completely digested than their levels of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber would suggest. How much? Just this month, a new study by Janet Novotny and colleagues at the USDA found that when the “average” person eats almonds she receives just 128 calories per serving rather than the 170 calories “on the label.”
It is a testament to human ingenuity that we have now figured out how to provide as many calories as possible in our foods. We don’t even really need for our intestines to do much work, our bacteria either, or even our teeth for that matter. Our modern diets are a measure of our evolutionary success, or at least they would be from the perspective of our paleo ancestors who needed and wanted excess calories. They are not successes from our modern perspective. We now have too many calories and too many of those calories are of low quality. One in three Americans is now obese. Over the last thirty years the number of calories we eat has increased, but so has the number of those calories that come from highly processed foods. In this light, we would do well to eat fewer processed foods and more raw ones. This is not a novel insight (Such foods, after all, tend to have more nutrients such as B vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals and so are good for reasons having nothing to do with counting calories). But what might be novel is the realization that in eating such foods you could lose weight while keeping the precise tally of the calories you consume exactly the same. Of course how much weight you lose depends on who you and your microbes are.