DailyDirt: Counting Calories Should Be A National Pastime

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

While it may be a bit late for New Year's resolutions, it's never too late to start counting calories as part of a sensible weight loss (or maintenance) plan. But before embarking on a crusade to cut out all those extra calories, it might be wise to learn more about this unit of energy. For example, scientists are still debating whether all food calories are equivalent from a metabolic perspective -- are calories from fat the same as calories from carbohydrates? The answer still isn't clear, but one thing is for sure: eat fewer calories and you'll lose weight. Here are a few more interesting tidbits about calories. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.
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Filed Under: calories, diet, fat, food, kilocalories, workout

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2013 @ 5:06pm

    so that means...

    horror movies are better than sex... should've lead with THAT headline, Techdirt!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McCrea (profile), 15 Mar 2013 @ 6:30pm

    So, don't eat the labels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2013 @ 6:32pm

    I take it your all in favor of the Cass Sunstein view of "Nudge".

    I on the other hand beleive that "FREE" markets should rule.

    How can a site that says it's for free markets take on the values of "Nudge"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LJW, 15 Mar 2013 @ 7:18pm

    6 minutes?

    That shouldn't even count as sex! :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 15 Mar 2013 @ 10:29pm

    Great news

    "...one study found that sex lasted 6 minutes on average and burned only 21 calories"

    So if I want to burn those 300 calories, I'll need to have sex 14.29 times. Woohoo, great news!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DCX2, 15 Mar 2013 @ 10:35pm

      Re: Great news

      The implication would be that every half hour of sex is about 105 calories.

      I find it hard to believe that 90 minutes of sitting still with a higher heart rate could burn 200 calories, while 90 minutes of sex would burn 315 calories. Are these people having lame sex? (well, if it's an average of six minutes, I would bet the answer is yes)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    marak, 16 Mar 2013 @ 1:49am

    if your not burning calories during sex your definitely not doing it right!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2013 @ 2:45am

    Counting calories is just to hard.

    Weight yourself at night before sleep and in the morning before you eat or drink. Subtract the two values and you have an approximate idea of how much you burned.

    That will give you the amount of food intake you can have. According to your lifestyle.


    night = 156.5 lb (71 Kg)
    morning = 154.3 lb (70 Kg)

    So you can eat 2.2 lb (1 Kg) of food.

    What food you ask?
    Well different foods may have different metabolic rates, keep a log of what you eat and how much you weight and you will see trends going up or down, then you will slowly learn what to eat and what not to eat depending on what you want.

    I also was wandering if I shouldn't emulate hardships.
    I mean we evolved based on the need to save every bit of energy because food was hard to find and consume in great quantities, so based on that maybe I should fast the week and vanquish my famish at the weekends. This to try and emulate natural cycles.

    From my own observations.

    If you take a lot of liquid during the day(more than 2 litters of liquid intake) you probably lose between 2.2 and 4.4 lb per day without any exercise at all only sleeping at night.

    If you take less liquid you get between 1.1 and 2.2 lb loss in the morning when you wake up.

    This probably means that you lose about 1.1 lb(.05kg) just sleeping and letting your body use that.

    Which I assume is the ideal solid food intake for most people with sedentary life styles they should eat 1.1 lb of solids each day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Paul Renault, 16 Mar 2013 @ 5:50am


      Most/All of that weight loss while you're sleeping is water, lost through sweating and through your breath.

      A better indication of how many calories you burn might be from measuring the amount of heat you generate...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2013 @ 2:55am

        Re: Re:

        Yes most of it is water but not all, otherwise people wouldn't lose weight if they took less than that number.

        Heat measurements have problems too since when you don't have anything to burn you don't lose weight just water.

        Not to mention it is an indirect measurement that is difficult to quantify.

        If you are going to measure something measure the thing that can be measure directly.


        Also you can test it.

        Do the weight thing and eat bellow the amount of weight you lose and you see if your weight doesn't go down, you don't need to believe anyone, you can see it for yourself.

        Calories on the other hand, I doubt that anybody really knows what they mean or how to measure it, and even if they could it probably be more cumbersome then just having to weight yourself 2 times a day.

        There is no temperature equipment in the market for normal people to measure temperature 24/7 to graph it all and see how much you heat you are generating.

        Theoretically, food energy could be measured in different ways, such as Gibbs free energy of combustion, or the amount of ATP generated by metabolizing the food. But the convention is to use the heat of the oxidation reaction, with the water substance produced being in the liquid phase. Conventional food energy is based on heats of combustion in a bomb calorimeter and corrections that take into consideration the efficiency of digestion and absorption and the production of urea and other substances in the urine. These were worked out in the late 19th century by the American chemist Wilbur Atwater.[2] See Atwater system for more detail.

        Source: Wikipedia: Food Energy

        That doesn't look like an easy way to measure anything.
        It can't account for any metabolism, is number fixed, not something that will vary according to individuals so I can't see how possibly that is any better.

        Weight on the other hand you can see it, it is easy and accessible data that you can do it yourself.

        And it is not just for weight loss, you can maintain weight just by eating the amount that your body can process, you neither gain or lose weight and you don't have to worry about what you eat, in fact you could even gather personal data about what you eat and see how it affects your gaining or losing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    derptown, 16 Mar 2013 @ 5:08pm

    don't count calories

    counting calories is the most retarded thing you can do. question: how much excess food energy does a person convert into fat in a given day? Answer: it varies from person to person, and in a given person, it varies based on levels of several hormones, activity level, sleep level, etc. using calories to measure fat gain is equivalent to trying to measure your gas mileage by filling your tank with gas, but not looking at how many gallons you put in, instead looking at the average number of gallons people use to fill up various cars in a single fillup. Oh, and that average is based on surveys of people's best guess at how many gallons they put in. over the past year (don't believe me? that's how most of these health surveys work, only with food consumption). Then check the odometer after you use all that gas.

    honestly, if somebody said to you, "i measure how much fat MASS I will put on based on a rough approximation of the potential of ENERGY in the food I eat," would you really put much stock in what their guesses are? and how could a calorie from protein possibly put the same amount of fat on your bones as a calorie from carbs, or fat? different organs secrete different enzymes and hormones to deal with these macronutients in different ways. why on earth would these calories all be the same?

    does sex reduce your stress? do you sleep better after doing it? probably yes to both. both of those are just a fraction of what determines if your body will burn fat or not, and how much. counting the energy it takes to do the deed is RETARDED. the hormonal response to sex is so much more important than the physical energy required to poke and thrust a few times.

    hey.. this is techdirt... where computer articles are usually found. say, how many calories does your computer use? when my computer is running slowly, i just increase the number of calories going in. wait.. no i don't, it's not that simple... so why would it be remotely close to that simple in something like the human body, which is several orders of magnitude more complicated?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wolfy, 17 Mar 2013 @ 2:22pm

    How about getting up off your fat ass, America. Now Drop, and give me 50!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Filip, 18 Dec 2013 @ 9:12am

    counting calories

    Definitely counting calories should become new year resolution, it will help on tons of people to know their food intake and keep them Fit And Neat

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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