One major aspect where the system is inaccurate, is the estimate of calories for cooked food. When heat denatures proteins or gelatinizes the collagen in meat, it affects the amount of calories in the food, leading to inaccurate assumptions about the calories being consumed. Also, the way different food is processed or cooked can make them easier to digest, resulting in a different amount of net calories. For instance, take starch in cereal kernels such as barley grains or beans, and compare them to the same cereals ground into flour or process it into breakfast cereal. The latter is easier to digest.
So why does all this really matter? Well, we are currently in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and counting calories has definitely been misleading, according to David Ludwig, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. How the body processes different foods in different ways matters. However, there are many other things that this system doesn't take into account. Age, gender, height, stress level, and other factors seem to make a big difference in how much a person can eat and still maintain the same weight.
So, whether this makes scientists more likely to spend a multitude of effort revising and recalculating our calorie counting system, or it makes a majority of people less likely to obsess over counting calories is hard to tell. I hope people who want to lose more weight are able to do so by making healthy decisions and choosing better meals, rather than counting calories on a system which is clearly flawed. What do you think, is the system really as important as they are making it out to be if we have been using it for centuries? Or is it a possible excuse for why calorie counting simply doesn't work for some?
Lindsey Dugas (1)