What is a Calorie?

What is a Calorie?


It’s a word you’ve read or heard thousands
of times. However, its meaning is slippery Perhaps, it is best to start with what a calorie
isn’t Calories Are Not little Gremlins That live in your food and make you fat They are not attracted to you And not your thin neighbor They do not depend on your circumstances The calorie simply a word we use to describe
energy. The energy we put into our body through food
and drink And the energy we use to move, think, and
breathe Think of your car You add gasoline so it can move you and your
screaming kids Gasoline is fuel or stored energy that cars
use work. We add gallons of fuel But we could say we are adding calories instead One gallon of fuel is the same as 31,000 calories
That would make fuel seem very cheap At .01 cents per calorie But we would still have sticker shock When we only got .0006 miles per calorie We cannot use gasoline as energy Our energy comes from food and drink We call the energy lurking in our food the
calorie This is where things get complicated You see, gasoline is almost 100 percent energy We eat and drink calories But they come in different varieties And with a host of other nutrients including Water, fiber, vitamins, minerals And other non-digestible species Getting a little more specific One gram of protein and carbohydrates Has about 4 calories One gram of alcohol has about 7 calories And one gram of fat has nine calories Of course, we don’t tell the server I’ll have forty grams of carbs, twenty grams
of protein And throw in a few grams of fat to go. We order foods and drinks that have an assortment
of nutrients. That is why some foods are energy dense High calorie – low-volume And other foods are nutrient rich Low calorie – high nutritional value. So what happens to all of the energy we added
at the buffet? We use energy when we sleep Lie on the couch and surf the web. We use it to think, dream And even when we turn off our brains and watch
…. We are never off In a great irony We use energy to take in energy As it takes as much as ten percent of our
calories To digest food. Of course, we must move at some point Standing, walking, lifting Movement of any kind requires energy Exercise requires energy The muscles we add when we exercise require
energy The calorie comes in very handy as a means
of fueling our lives But what happens if we don’t use all of
the energy? Your car has a tank with limited storage We don’t have tanks Or do we? We do, we have millions of them. We call them fat cells. Fat cells love storing energy. Even better, they aren’t steel tanks with
limited capacity. They are balloons who feel like they look
their best Expanded to their fullest. Let’s get back to the calorie If we think of the calorie as stored energy And the fat cell is where we store the energy If we take in more calories than we use We store the excess in fat cells As our energy storage increases Our fat cells grow and we gain weight. Our increased girth means we are ready for
the next famine Of course, the food desert Is actually a dessert And the stored energy seems to only grow and
never recede So the next time you think of the calorie Think of stored energy Think of your insatiable fat cells With open doors hoping to store more. But don’t blame the calorie for your excesses. It does not have a personality It does not have a personal preference It is simply a description of the energy you
eat and drink And the energy you use to live. What happens to that energy
Is up to you

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