A Calorie - AnabolicMinds.com

A Calorie

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    A Calorie


    So I was at class, Fire Academy, last night and I had someone ask me what the definiton of a calorie is. By definition, per Wikipedia, it is:

    The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. The unit was first defined by Professor Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat. This definition entered French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867.[1] In most fields its use is archaic, having been replaced by the SI unit of energy, the joule. However, in many countries it remains in common use as a unit of food energy.

    So, with that said he asks "So how does one determine what good calories or bad calories are? Techinically, there is no such thing, correct?"

    I was unsure how to respond. Then he follows up with "And they say to lose weight you need to watch your calorie intake but if calories, by definition, are the source of energy, how can one have enough energy to burn calories if they limit their intake?"

    Now these, for some, may be easy questions, but I found it interesting how he presented them. What are other peoples takes on this?

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    True, calories are a measure of energy (mainly used with foods). But you are forgetting about the nutritional aspect of the foods we eat. Example: the good calories vs. bad calories thing. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat has about 460 calories, while 4 tablespoons of cooking oil has about 480 calories. These both provide the body with about the same amount of chemical energy, but i'm sure you can see which ones are bad calories and which ones are good. Calories from fat and calories from sugar are what people mostly cut down on when on a diet (bad calories).

    just my input
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    As far as good calories and bad calories go, it is a question of relative content of micronutrition (vitamins, minerals, etc.). Micronutrients are necessary for metabolism. Foods that have a high micronutrient content relative to calories (aka macronutrients) are your 'good' calories and vice versa.

    The other question about having enough energy to burn can be answered by the fact that the body stores energy (primary as fat but also muscle and glycogen). If you burn off 3000 calories in one day but only take in 2000 then your body has to dip into stores to fuel the activity.
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    I tried to go with the example of bad calories come from foods like Mcd's while good calories come from things like chicken.....he still argued that you can't have a "good" or "bad" calorie since a calorie is a calorie. I gave up my side of the argument.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilverZ06 View Post
    I tried to go with the example of bad calories come from foods like Mcd's while good calories come from things like chicken.....he still argued that you can't have a "good" or "bad" calorie since a calorie is a calorie. I gave up my side of the argument.
    it's not the calorie that is talked about when someone says "bad calories". someone here already touched on it. 400 cals from ice cream is not going to be as healthy as 400 from say tuna. why? because the tuna is going to be made up of primarily protein, no carbs and very little fat if any. ice cream however will be mainly carbs and sat. fat, right? technically, a calorie is a calorie, yes but what is "coming along" with that calorie? fat? carbs? if i eat 4000 cals ED and it's all snickers bars vs. a well balanced meal, what do you think i will look like in a month? BTW, most people eat the same amount of cals as i do. they just eat burger king where as i make my food at home and it's by far more healthy than they're fast food.
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    He's also forgetting the cascade of hormonal effects that happens when you consume calories. His argument is very weak and ignores far too much when it comes to metabolism.
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    technically a calorie is a measure of heat, your body requires calories to remain at a higher than room temperature
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilverZ06 View Post
    I tried to go with the example of bad calories come from foods like Mcd's while good calories come from things like chicken.....he still argued that you can't have a "good" or "bad" calorie since a calorie is a calorie. I gave up my side of the argument.
    better example is pork fat vs spinach. Its not the calories themselves that necessarily are bad or good, but the effects that food item has on your body.

    In essence he's right, for any 1 given calorie it can't be good or bad, its the overall distribution that is good or bad. Getting 5 calories from trans fat a day isn't bad, getting 500 is
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntonG42O View Post
    technically a calorie is a measure of heat, your body requires calories to remain at a higher than room temperature
    Yes but...

    True that 'calories' got their start in thermodynamics but heat is just a form of energy. A calorie was defined to be the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 14.5 degrees celsius to 15.5. (a kilocalorie or Calorie is just the amount for 1 kg). Around the mid 1900s scientists relaxed the convention to be associated with energy in general and defined a calorie as equal to 4.19 Joules where a joule is defined as the amount of physical work (energy) required to lift a 1 g mass to a height of 1 m in Earth's gravity.

    Sorry to nitpick but I have to put my uni education to use somehow
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilverZ06 View Post
    I tried to go with the example of bad calories come from foods like Mcd's while good calories come from things like chicken.....he still argued that you can't have a "good" or "bad" calorie since a calorie is a calorie. I gave up my side of the argument.
    Both arguments are essentially correct; I think the problem is that you guys may not have defined the context. On an absolute scale a calorie is a calorie. However once you specify a certain system (human metabolism, gasoline engine, etc) there are differences. A human cannot obtain energy from gasoline and a conventional car cannot run on oatmeal, despite both containing 'energy.'
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