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Reading food labels ie Kcal - isn't this calories?

Discussion in 'Diet & Nutrition' started by Angel*Star, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. Angel*Star

    Angel*Star Member

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    Hi everyone

    Think I'm getting myself confused with reading calories on food labels. Ok so I have my box of porridge beside me and it says per 30g serving is 770 kj and 181 Kcal which I assume is 181 Calories!

    A friend has said a Kcal is 1000 calories and I'm feeling slightly confused? Surely it's only 181 Calories?

    Angel Star
     
  2. amy green

    amy green Well-Known Member

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  3. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree C, at a pressure of 1 (for all intents and purposes, sea level). This calorie is spelt with a lower-case 'c'.

    A Calorie (upper-case 'C'), sometimes called a 'dietary calorie', is 1000 calories. Which is, of course, 1 kilocalorie or Kcal.

    For the purposes of 'calorie counting', the number you need is the Kcal one. For example, if the label says 125 Kcals then you count it as 125. So you are right to assume that 181 Kcals is 181 Calories.

    A calorie has 4.1858 joules. Don't worry about this - ignore the joules.
     
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  4. Angel*Star

    Angel*Star Member

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    Ok great, thank you both! Good to know for calorie counting that it's 'kcal' we look at when checking the calories! :)
     
  5. Jabba The Hut

    Jabba The Hut Well-Known Member

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    Since I went 'low carb high fat' I've never had to wield a calculator! Brilliant! Never had so much energy, or consistently lost weight - realize now just how much bread was slowing me down! All those years wasted counting calories and refusing food - makes me very sad!
     
  6. Reiki Pixie

    Reiki Pixie New Member

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    Even though calories as an expression of energy may be very useful (which Crowan's scientific description was very good) but I often wondered how useful it is in real life. Different constitutions and metabolisms means that food (in terms of energy) is being burnt off at different rates for different individuals.

    As usual, science likes to conveniently box the population into a statistically normalised bell-shaped curve, based usually on research on how to keep people alive like, for example, solders in a battlefield situation. And I'm not joking!!

    Calorie counting just becomes a hobby driving by fear and paranoia. I wonder after billions of years of evolution, how come we are having problems to know how to thrive!
     
  7. darrensurrey

    darrensurrey Well-Known Member

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    I've often thought this in the past but we forget that in, for instance, Edwardian times or during the Roman Empire, poor people were probably always underweight and rich people were probably always fat. :)
     
  8. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    A base line of 1000 Kcals per day in order to lose weight (now out of fashion, but much pushed when I was younger) was the amount that the Nazis came up with for prisoners in work camps.
    I’d say it becomes an obsession for many (for me when I was in my twenties).

    But we have problems at least in part because we are so disconnected from ‘real’ food. So many people have been brainwashed by adverts into thinking that if it’s ‘nice’ it has to be ‘naughty’ – that ‘healthy’ food is nasty. Just that dichotomy; that there is ‘healthy’ on one side and ‘nice’ on the other causes problems.

    Calorie counting, in many people’s minds, means that it’s a straight choice between a bowl of porridge with a banana and a Mars Bar. I’ve known several people who’ve ‘saved’ calories (or sins or points) up for the weekend so that they can get drunk on Saturday night.

    Calorie counting can help if you have no idea what a ‘normal’ portion looks like. But I think there are better ways to lose weight. And to become healthier.
     
  9. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    Of course, that still begs the question why, even if it's true.
     
  10. darrensurrey

    darrensurrey Well-Known Member

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    Why rich people were fat? Because they could afford to buy food. :D
     
  11. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    I queried your comment because I have come across no evidence to suggest that most people not in a famine or a war were underweight. Also, why choose 'Edwardian' and 'Roman'? The Romans generally looked down on obesity, regarding it as a moral weakness - and yes, that's a generalisation, too, but it comes in the writings of Galen and Hippocrates (Greek, but still influential) and Cicero.

    As for why - which I find the more interesting question - your answer suggests first that all calories are equal, in that those able to eat more will put on more weight. There's certainly some evidence that things aren't that simple.
    And second, that all food requires money - i.e. is bought. Generally, it has been the poorer people who produced the food and prior to the Industrial Revolution most would have had an adequate diet. The Industrial Revolution changed that, of course.
     
  12. Energylz

    Energylz Moody-rator ©
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    What about people in Victorian times who, certainly in London as well as many other places, ended up living on the streets or ending up in workhouses. Not just malnutrition, but also lack of calories (and hence weight) took many people's lives.
     
  13. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    This was after the Industrial Revolution, which - as I said - changed things.
     
  14. darrensurrey

    darrensurrey Well-Known Member

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    So were poor people in good shape way before we knew what calories were?
     
  15. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    There was more likelihood of infection from injuries and some very nasty bacteria and viruses - which the wealthier could to an extent avoid by moving (usually out of London) - but these affected the rich also; e.g. (topical point, seeing that Wolf Hall is being televised) Thomas Cromwell lost his wife, his sister and his two daughters to plague.

    But in terms of diet and exercise, generally yes. Better teeth because of lack of sugar and more wholefoods (and here there was a difference - white flour/bread was only affordable by the rich), less diabetes, fewer heart problems, fewer cancers.

    Our idea of the life of peasants throughout much of history seems to be driven more by Hollywood and prejudice than by recorded facts.
     
  16. darrensurrey

    darrensurrey Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. What about being overweight and underweight? Which group were more likely to be in either category?
     
  17. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    It’s not an area that has had a lot of research done, and what has had tended to focus on attitudes (generally antagonistic) to people who were obese.

    One study was done when 274 skeletons of medieval monks were compared with secular skeletons – although the article didn’t specify where the secular skeletons were found, which would have had a bearing on this question. The monks were taller and generally bigger than the secular population and had 5 times as frequent osteoarthritis and 4 times as much joint disease. The researcher took those as signs of obesity. She also said that she “noted that protein and saturated fats were the mainstays of the monastic diet. More importantly, the schedule of how monks ate – with two meals a day in the summer months, and just one large meal during the winter, all of which had to be eaten in a strict and short amount of time – would have likely lead to the monks gorging on food and having a less efficient digestive system.” She might be right, but I think it’s a bit of an assumption.

    There’s an article – here – that gives an account of the medieval diet. Dr Iona McCleery takes your point when she says, “whereas in the past it was the rich who risked weight gain, today poorer people are more more likely to become obese.” But this gives the impression that many of the rich were fat which is not the impression I’ve got from most of my reading.

    Henry VIII was, of course, the ‘classic’ fat man. He possibly had a genetic tendency towards it, since his grandfather was also young, handsome and dashing until suddenly he wasn’t any more, when he became corpulent.

    I guess, if anyone was going to get fat, it would be the rich (and leisured) but actually obesity wasn’t common in anyone. But of course, the English middle-ages is only one of a myriad of different times and cultures. So anything is going to be a huge generalisation.

    The ancient Chinese and Japanese, the ancient Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Aztecs all knew about obesity, but in all it was rare. The Ancient Egyptians saw obesity as something that afflicted only their enemies.

    But we are always looking at history through our own perceptions and biases. I’ve read that the Venus of Willendorf proves that Neolithic hunter-gathers had obesity. I can’t see why – I’d guess it’s artistic licence, helped along by spiritual visions, although I can see that academia wouldn’t come up with that! So there’s always different ways of interpreting data – especially when there’s so little.
     
  18. darrensurrey

    darrensurrey Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Interesting stuff!!
     

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