August 2008 - Calories, Calories, Calories
What is a calorie? If you are reading this newsletter than you have been to my office… or this was forwarded to you by someone who has been. While in my office you probably spoke with my physician’s assistant (Joan) or my nutritionist (Karla) or me about nutrition or nutritional matters. At some point during that conversation we talked about calories. So what exactly is a calorie? I realize that this is a very dense and complex topic, and I can’t possibly hope to cover it all with a single issue of my newsletter. Iwill try to distill out a few key concepts that I think all Bariatricpatients should know with this issue and perhaps the next several issues of my newsletter. Let me just apologize in advance there will actually be some math (yikes!) in this newsletter…I promise it will be limited to simple multiplication and addition.
At it’s simplest a calorie is a unit of energy. When we are talking about food… which we often are in my office, we are talking about the energy content of food. Inall of the things we consume for nourishment there are only foursources of energy (calories), they are carbohydrates (sugars), fats,proteins, and alcohol (thought we could at least get a break with thealcohol!).
One gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories. A gram is a measure of weight and to give you an idea there are about 30 grams in one ounce. One gram of fat has 9 calories, one gram of protein also has 4 calories, and one gram of alcohol has about 7.5 calories. So we can see why high fat foods have more calories, each gram of fat has 9 calories.
Sofor example if that muffin you are eyeing up at Starbucks has 10 gramsof fat, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein (thesenumbers are actually a little low for many muffins by the way). The calories from fat will be 10*9. The calories from carbohydrates will be 30*4 = 120, and the calories from protein will be 3*4 = 12. The total calories will be 90+120+12 = 222. So what does this tell us… of the 222 calories 210 are fat and sugar (and the worst kind of fat and sugar by the way). Over the next couple of newsletters I will talk more about “good” and “bad” sugars and fats.
Letssay you are trying to limit yourself to 1000 calories per day (orless), you can now see why a muffin would be such a poor choice…it hasover 20 percent of the calories for the entire day in that one muffin. This also gives you an idea why I am always telling patients stay away from fruit juices. Ifyou read the nutritional information on that container of fruit juice(something that I recommend you get in the habit of doing by the way)you will see that the only source of calories is carbohydrates. Ifit is pure fruit juice an 8 ounce serving will have between 30 and 40grams of carbohydrates, which will equal between 120 and 160calories…see if you can do the math yourself.
If you are doing a 1000-1200 calorie per day diet that one glass of fruit juice had about 10-15 percent of your total calories for the day. Not a very good choice…you would be much better off eating the actual fruit. It has less calories, more fiber and is much more filling than the liquid juice. Infact, just for laughs you should compare the nutritional label on a canof Coke and a can of juice, you will see that in terms of calories theyare virtually identical, and no one would call a can of Coke “healthy”.
That’s it for now, I know this is a broad topic and I will be returning to it in the near future. Ifany of you have questions about this topic you can email them to me, Iusually respond within 48 hours or I may include the questions in afuture edition of the newsletter.
In the meantime I have to give a shout out to…myself! If any of you are members of Obesity Help or get the OH magazine the July/August edition has an article from yours truly! Itis on pages 24 and 25 and it is on one of my favoritetopics…insurance barriers to bariatric coverage (Regular readers knowit is something I love to rant about). If you have a chance, check it out.
“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”
Thanks for reading and trusting me with your healthcare
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