Death of the calorie | 1843

April 17, 2019

https://www.1843magazine.com/features/death-of-the-calorie

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This was pioneering stuff for the 1890s. Atwater eventually concluded that a gram of either carbohydrate or protein made an average of four calories of energy available to the body, and a gram of fat offered an average of 8.9 calories, a figure later rounded up to nine calories for convenience. We now know far more about the workings of the human body: Atwater was right that some of a meal’s potential energy was excreted, but had no idea that some was also used to digest the meal itself, and that the body expends different amounts of energy depending on the food. Yet more than a century after igniting the faeces of Wesleyan students, the numbers Atwater calculated for each macro­nutrient remain the standard for measuring the calories in any given food stuff. Those experiments were the basis of Salvador Camacho’s daily calorific arithmetic.
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