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It’s Not as Simple as Calories in Calories out but Calories Still Count. You can download this whole post for offline viewing as a PDF for free by clicking here. I appreciate this is one of those things you’d want to share with your kids so they grow up smart and not have to resort to selling protein shakes on Instagram. To ensure the spreading of good information, the continuity of our species, and the well-being of your children: you can read the child-friendly version here. When it comes to the calorie argument, there are generally two camps. Those who, like me, believe that both of the other camps kinda, sorta, have a point and should calm the fuck down.
But, we’ll get to that in a bit. First: what in the hell actually is a calorie? And that’s what calories are: units of heat or work. The key word here is energy. While the Calorie is common in today’s lexicon, it wasn’t always like this. To do that, we have to go way back.
As I was saying, Hippocrates was espousing the idea of energy balance way before all you cool kids were. Fast forwarding a few more centuries and we enter the Age of Enlightenment, and this was when the scientific method and reason became the modus operandi. The first of which starts with the Father of Modern Chemistry, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. A tax collector by day, he spent his evenings involved in science research and experiments. Seeing as Lavoisier was, you know, significantly fucking rich he could afford to have various apparatuses built to help him with his research, amongst these was the first calorimeter: an apparatus for measuring the amount of heat involved in a chemical reaction. Lavoisier’s Guinea Pig In 1780, Lavoisier conducted the first of his experiments that quantified the role of oxygen and metabolism.
He placed a guinea pig into a cage that was placed inside a double-walled container. The heat from the guinea pig melted the ice in the inner wall. A few years later in 1789, Lavoisier extended his findings to people by performing a series of experiments measuring the oxygen consumption of a person at rest. It was also around this time scientists began to develop bomb calorimeters to measure the energy value of food.