What are Calories Part 1

If I haven’t been as consistent with updates beyond endless podcasts, it’s because I sustained a major lower body injury (broken fibula and two torn ligaments) about 12 weeks ago and, let’s just say, my head hasn’t quite been in it.   I’ll write about that eventually to detail what happened and my recover but for today, I want to do a piece that I’ve wanted to write for a while.

Now, there are a lot of crazy people on the Internet.  Sometimes I have even been one of them.  But this article is about a different kind of crazy person.  I won’t name him since I don’t believe in giving crazy publicity or even acknowledging them by name but he sends myself and others in the field relentless numbers of all caps insane emails.  He’s a complete nutjob.

In the most general sense, he’s one of the deniers of energy balance and Calories In Calories Out (CICO) as it pertains to body weight and body composition.  It’s the typical bs although his newest insanity is how calories not an actual thing that exists and, by some sort of extension I guess, that the calorie model of changes in body weight is incorrect for that reason.  That is, since calories doesn’t exist, they can’t explain the changes that occur in terms of bodyweight or body fat.

Now, in one sense, this crazy person is actually correct: calories are not a thing in the sense of physically existing in this universe.   I can’t put a calorie in your hand, I can’t feed you a plate of calories per se (and that will make sense in a moment), I cannot show you a physical object that is a calorie.  I could do those things with, say, a quarter or an apple.  I can’t do it with calories.

But does that make him right about the rest of it?  Would I be writing this article if it did?

What are Calories: Part 1

This crazy person’s mistake, well one of them anyhow, is in assuming that anyone has ever claimed that a calorie is a physical object in the first place.  It’s just a weird strawman that exists only in his mind.    And that is because a calorie isn’t a physical object. Rather it’s a defined measurement.  Specifically it is a measurement of heat.  Even more specifically: