The breakfast I’m enjoying as I write this has around 250 calories.
This could mean that I’m eating a poptart and some orange juice, 1 serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a donut, or a bowl of oatmeal made with milk.
Calories don’t mean anything.
“250 calories” does not thoroughly explain how my body will respond to the food I’m giving it, yet for so many people, calories are the focus.
Calories are simply a measure of energy, and when we’re talking about food, they represent the amount of energy stored in a food. Calorie counting as a meal plan suggests that all calories are equal, but our bodies do not at all think that. Our bodies are much more concerned about the nutrients and carb/protein/fat ratios in food, so perhaps we should be, too. It just makes sense to fuel our bodies with attention to how they react to fuel, don’t you think?
Most sources say that our bodies require around 25% of our calories to come from fat, 45% from carbohydrates, and 30% from protein (or close to these ranges). But that’s still “calories from,” as opposed to “grams of”. That’s almost like saying, “to build this house, I need 500 pounds of wood, 30 pounds of nails, and 3 pounds of hammers.” Yes, those items can be measured by their weight, but that’s not really how their measurements are best understood. I suppose it’s easier to talk about calories since we’re all used to it, but I just think that talking about calories is keeping us from understanding food.