The Science Behind Food

ScientificAmericanFoodA few months ago, I bought a copy of the September 2013 Special Food Issue of Scientific American that I was super excited to read and then I misplaced it.  Well, I just found it, and it is blowing my expectations out of the water!  The articles in here have great content and were right up my alley.  I haven’t read the whole thing but I started with what I thought were the most interesting articles.  Click on each article title to read the full version on Scientific American’s website.  All articles come with scientific references and are based on current research.

Science Reveals Why Calorie Counts Are All Wrong

I found this article really fascination.  It discussed the shortcoming of our current method of calorie-labeling on foods.  The current method measures the number of kilocalories (what we actually call food Calories) in a given food by burning the food and measuring the heat output by observing the rise in temperature of a given amount of water.  One kilocalorie will raise 1kg of water 1 degree Celsius.  It is a straightforward method to measure calories contained in a food.  The problem lies in the fact that we prepared our food by frying, baking, heating, etc. which can cause a change in the calorie content of the food.  Also, the method does not consider the number of calories used by your body to process the food.  We all know that white bread is not the same as multigrain bread, even if the calories are equal.  It just reinforces the thought that maybe there is more to weight loss than just calories.  The article discusses this topic in depth.

Is Obesity an Addiction?

This article basically reiterated things that I have read in books such as In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan), The End of Overeating (David Kessler), and some other food related books.  It discusses the concept that certain foods cause chemical reactions in your brain that rival addictions to things such as drugs and alcohol.  These foods follow the same pathways as these hyper addictive substances.  It is the reason why you can be completely stuffed from a meal but still have room for dessert.  You can’t resist.  You may in fact have a food addiction.  It also discusses the fact that there is trouble in this in that you cannot actually “give up” your addiction.  Very interesting stuff!

What Makes You Fat: Too Many Calories, or the Wrong Carbohydrates?

This of course hits close to home for me and anyone who follows a low carb lifestyle.  Are carbs the enemy?  This articles goes into the theories and hypotheses on the subject of calories verses macronutrient content (specially, carbohydrates) and their effects on weight.  What I found really interesting is that back-in-the-day, they thought it was content and not just calories but the theory fell out of favor.  We have been bombarded with the calories-in-calories-out concept since.  They discuss current studies being conducted to test such theories and the difficulties and complexities in testing the effect of diet on weight.

Those were my top 3 favorite articles from the issue but there is plenty more to read so check it out!  This is one of my favorite magazines for its great content and easy-to-read writing (for both scientists and non-scientists).  Now, I must be off to do my own science.  Today, I’m researching the mathematics behind x-ray backscatter systems.  Aren’t you jealous?

Read one of the articles and let me know your thoughts!

5 thoughts on “The Science Behind Food

  1. A lot of people think Paleo=low carb or even VLC. It doesn’t.

    You may end up eating less carbs but that’s because it’s less PROCESSED foods. A lot of people come to paleo and dive into lc/ vlc, for sure. I think the ones talking about it is why the two seem synonymous but if you talk to many people who just eat paleo, they’ll say, ‘I don’t know what my carb intake is.’ I see that way more! I look at mine now and then and find that when I’m eating NO junk foods (safe for Celiac, still eat junk foods TOO often), it ends up being 80-120g of carbs a day. That’s not low; however, that’s WAY LOWER than you SAD!

    Choosing NUTRIENT-DENSE seems to be the way to go, whether it’s this or that macro. At least for me but I have a history of so many deficiencies, I eat for nutrients (and junk, of course, because I’m not perfect). I’ve read the addiction parts in books by those authors. The only thing to be done in the end is AVOID the triggers and that’s a daily choice which is on me.

      1. I wanted to mention because virtually EVERYBODY who hears me use the word ‘paleo’ immediately says, ‘I can’t do that Atkins/ low carb thing.’ It’s synonymous now…wrongly, unfortunately.

          1. Aw, thanks. I wasn’t trying to give you crap, it’s just I get this *every* stinking time!

Leave a Reply to Angela-Chicken Scoop Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: