My gut is not a calorimeter.
March 27, 2010 9:34 AM Subscribe
Prompted by this comment
, I'm here to ask what the deal is with
"calories" as a measure of "nutritional content" (whatever that means). I understand that the calorie value we see on food packaging is arrived at by burning the food in a calorimeter, and that this would be an effective measure of the total chemical energy in the substance. How well does this actually approximate the energy our body can put to use (mechanically, or for other biological processes)? Isn't this measure essentially useless for people trying to lose weight? Why do we put so much emphasis on it then? Are there some foods which have an astronomical number of calories which our digestive systems can do little with?
posted by phrontist to science & nature (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite