Thursday, December 15, 2011

Calorie not a Calorie: Raw vs. Cooked

This is a very interesting article: Why Calorie Counts are Wrong: Cooked Food Provides much more Energy

A few quick highlights:
  • Studies are showing that cooking food makes it easier to digest for the body, ultimately allowing the body to utilize more calories from a portion of food than if it was raw.
    • When studying mice they found that mice gained more weight eating cooked food, compared to raw food.
    • In addition "...the mice had a spontaneous preference for eating cooked meat over raw meat, and their choice made sense, given that they fared better on it."
  • The experiments indicated that there was some serious discrepancies in how calorie counts are measured.
    • "First, it pays no attention to the extent to which food has been processed. For example, it treats grain as the same calorie value whether it is eaten whole or as highly milled flour. But smaller particles are less work to digest, and therefore provide more net energy." 
    • "Second, it treats foods as equally digestible (meaning, having the same proportion digested) regardless of processing. But cooked foods, as we’ve seen, are more digestible than raw foods."
  • Key Take Aways (based on this article):
    • This is NOT a study indicating its healthier to eat one way or another, its clearly looking at calories retained by the body. 
      • The more processed our foods are, the more calories the body retains from them.
      • If you want to gain weight, make sure you eat highly processed and well-cooked meals. 
      • If you want to lose weight, perhaps substituting a few items in your diet for raw food would be a good strategy.  
    • Feeding your children during their growing years 100% raw foods isn't necessarily a healthy practice. Their calorie needs are much higher, so a combination of raw and cooked foods (higher overall calorie) might be a good thing to consider during their key peak growing years. 

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