Let's review what a calorie really is... A calorie (or more correctly, a kilocalorie) is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius (specifically from 14.5C to 15.5C) at sea level! A kilocalorie (which we usually refer to as "one Calorie" with a capital C) really is 1000 calories. Kilojoules are the metric measurement of energy from foods, so they are also and irrelevant and ridiculous measurement of the health or energy of foods.
The measurement of the calorie content of a food is done in a device called a "bomb calorimeter", a closed container containing oxygen, and the food is physically BURNED in this device, to measure its energy output as heat. This is supposed to be a representation of how our bodies use nutrients, which it clearly isn't! Our bodies are NOT an enclosed device, and our bodies do not BURN food to create heat in the same way! We have many thousands or even millions of processes and chemical reactions which occur in our bodies to convert our food into far more than just heat, but also into many other products which change in more chemical reactions to finally allow us to live and function (but not burn up!). It is actually impossible to measure the amount of energy a food really gives us in our bodies, so the concept of calories has been used. But calories have been taken too far as a measurement of food quality, when it never should be.
My other issue about using calories for foods is the belief that low calorie foods are better for you, when they are not! This concept has been used for decades by weight loss companies, dietitians, doctors, food companies, and the general public, but again it's wrong!
Consider the following comparison of the calorie content of the major macronutrients:
Carbohydrates (vegetables, fruit, grains etc) - 4 kilocalories per gram
Protein (meats and plant-based protein) - 4 kilocalories per gram
Fats (animal and plant based oils and fats) - 9 calories per gram
Alcohol (ok, not a macronutrient, but it is a good comparison) - 7 kilocalories per gram.
Then see the attached graphs for comparing the blood sugar levels of each of these macronutrients - ie., how foods containing these affect your body...
Carbohydrates get converted quickly into glucose (ie, sugar) and raise your blood sugar levels quickly. Your body responds to the high blood sugar by secreting insulin to force cells to take up more glucose and insulin also forces the fat cells to take in the glucose that is converted to fat. Hence a high carb diet leads to fat storage and weight gain. Carbohydrates do not give a long-lasting energy.
Some proteins get more slowly converted into glucose, but generally most proteins will be broken down into their amino acid building blocks, to be rearranged into other proteins the body can use. Proteins are more filling, and give a longer-lasting energy to delay hunger for longer.
Here's an important question for you - carbs and proteins have the same calorie content, but which one has a better effect on your body, with less blood sugar spike, less insulin required, but a much longer lasting energy?!
Healthy fats generally don't raise blood sugar! However they do give a long lasting energy, are much more filling than carbs and proteins, and healthy fats don't cause the same inflammatory and oxidative damage that carbs do.
Ignore calories, ignore calorie measurements of foods as a marker of their health benefits, and ignore counting calories for weight loss or even for general health!
Focus instead on 1) the NUTRIENT content of foods, especially of whole, real, fresh, seasonal foods, and 2) avoiding processed, refined, packaged, and artificial foods which cause INFLAMMATION in your body, which is a major cause of our chronic disease epidemics today. Inflammation is the real cause of obesity, not calories! Inflammation comes from many other sources to cause weight gain, such as from hormone imbalances, stress, lifestyle factors, dysbiosis, exposure to toxins and chemicals, infections, and many more sources - most of which are unrelated to your food intake an unrelated to calories!
When all the root causes of one's weight gain are investigated and treated, you will lose weight easily and consistently, without hunger and cravings, and you will be able to reach and maintain your healthy goal weight long into the future! This is what I can help you with!
In the next article I will expand more on why calories are useless and unscientific, and should never be used as a measurement of the health of a food or for weight loss.
Be informed. Be healthy.