Calories aren’t exactly what we think they are. Simply put, a calorie is a unit of measurement, not a “thing” to be counted like pennies in a piggy bank. They were originally invented as a way to measure units of heat in steam engines. Then it seemed convenient to translate that to the little “engines” in our bodies as we convert foods into energy to live. We just needed some way to measure everything, that’s all.
But we don’t really have steam engines inside of us…just chemical reactions at a cellular level…and it’s easier to think of this in simplified terms, such as calorie-things to burn so we have the energy to live (or get fat if there are too many to burn).
However, it doesn’t exactly work that way, and the following myths help us to understand why:
1. Calories do not fuel your body. Oxidation does.
2. Calories are all alike. Not. Since it’s oxidation that fuels your body, we must realize the real differences lie in the kinds of food we eat: carbohydrates, fats, proteins.
3. All calories will be digested. Actually, a significant percentage of some foods simply slide on through without being absorbed.
4. Exercise burns calories. Again, not. About 60 to 70 percent of calories are burned just from daily activity, plus all the automated processes that keep us alive: heart beating, tissue repair and replacement, etc.
5. Low-calorie foods help lose weight. Hardly. The easiest way to remove calories from a food is to take out the sugar and replace it with artificial sweeteners. But those can make you overeat, so what did you gain? (Uh, more weight?)