This Is How Scientists Calculate The Calories In Any Food

Calorie Calculation technique

Obsessed about keeping your daily calorie count below a certain figure? Keeping track of your calorie intake is crucial in getting or staying fit, but do you know what a calorie actually is?

A calorie is a measurement of energy,

“the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius at standard atmospheric pressure”

to be precise.

It should also be noted that Calories count of the food packages is actually noted in kilocalories, which means 1000 actual calories for every 1 Calorie listed.

How are they measured?

Up until 1990, calories were measured using a “bomb calorimeter,” which involved placing the food source inside an enclosed container filled with water. The food was then burnt using electrical energy, and after it completely vanished, the temperature rise of the water was measured and the degrees raised were thus the number of calories used.

Then came The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, where the FDA began asked the food manufacturers to start labeling the exact distribution of nutrients and calories contained in a certain food. This meant that the bomb calorimeter was now rendered ineffective since it didn’t give the distribution of different foods, and the method also included calories of the indigestible components, like fiber, thus always led to an overestimation of calories.

How To Measure Calories At Home?

Instead, an alternate method known as the Atwater system was introduced, which involves tedious mathematics and wasn’t particularly accurate. FDA then introduced a simpler method where the manufacturers can look at the ingredients of the product and determine the exact amount of fat, carbohydrates, and protein it contains. After that, take an assumption that each gram proteins gives 4 kilocalories, 4 for carbohydrates, 3 for organic acids, 9 for fats, and 7 for drinkable alcohols (ethanol), while subtract 4 kilocalories for every gram of fiber.

And voila, you have your own government sanctioned calorie measurement. So if you have a tasty snack containing 5g of protein, 10g of carbohydrates, and 15g of fat, the above 4, 4, 9 rule should give you a total of 195 Calories.

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