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Do Calories Really Exist? What's the Truth?

Rochelle Frank wrote humorous bits for her college newspaper many years ago. Her funny observations have continued in print and online.

See any calories?

See any calories?

I Want Pictures !

We have all seen photos of flying saucers, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, but has anyone ever taken a picture of a calorie?

You would think that someone, somewhere, would have caught a calorie on film by now if such a thing really existed, yet we are expected to swallow the concept that calories are real.

Can you tell me what a calorie looks like or tastes like or sounds like? What shape is it . . . and what color? How big is it?

It supposedly is tiny if 16,000 of them can fit into a chocolate truffle and still leave room for important nutrients like folic acid, methelxanthines, hazelnut Bavarian cream, and beta cholatene.

Scientists have taken pictures of other tiny things like the spotted wilt tomato virus, dust mite antennae, and algae chromosomes. But where, I ask again, are the calorie pictures?

We have never seen them have we? No one has. That is what causes so much doubt and suspicion.

It says calories . . . I don't see them.

It says calories . . . I don't see them.

No Evidence

Due to the lack of empirical evidence, I am convinced that the calorie theory is actually an elaborate hoax.

The concept was undoubtedly invented in order to promote and sell "low calorie" foods . . . which are really just foods that don't taste as good as regular foods.

In this way, the snack chips, cookies and soft drinks that would have otherwise been marketing failures, can bring in fat profits.

"Hey," said one marketing person to another, "I'll bet people will buy this stuff . . . even if it doesn't taste good - if we call it the 'low calorie' alternative."

Counting Calories has become an obsession for some people, but you will notice that the calorie enumerators are not really doing the counting themselves. They always fall back on charts and tables invented by people who have purportedly done the actual counting. In reality, we all suspect that there is really nothing there to count.

Is it really possible to count things you cannot see like kilowatts and calories? These things are regularly counted . . . yet, how do we know they are really there?

Have you ever seen a kilowatt or a calorie. If I placed a kilowatt and a calorie side by side on the table in front of you would you be able to tell the difference? Of course not, because no one has ever seen either of these alleged things.

The calorie myth has grown throughout the past century to include a complex cosmology including the obsessive ritualistic assigning of numbers of calories for each food.

You will notice that the more delicious a food is, the higher the number of calories assigned to it. Just as an example: between brussels sprouts and double fudge raspberry pecan paradiso cheesecake, which do you think allegedly has more calories? I don't have to tell you, do I?

"Burning" Calories. Where's the Smoke?

As if all of this is not bad enough, this pernicious system also assigns numbers of calories used up by the body while engaged in various activities. These figures cannot support the purported facts by logical reasoning.

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For instance, did you know that working at your computer supposedly uses almost twice the calories of watching TV? What happens if you watch TV and work on your computer at the same time? What if your TV is your computer ?

Playing basketball or other major sports hypothetically uses 10 times the calories of watching TV. If this were true, doesn't it make sense that watching basketball on TV should increase the calorie use rate?

Isn't this why watchers of major sporting events think they need to stockpile nachos, buffalo wings and other hearty, and reputedly high calorie snacks to sustain them through major championship broadcasts?

Mowing the lawn using power mower or walking 4 mph supposedly uses exactly the same amount of calories. This is just another part of the calorie fable designed to make you feel guilty about just walking to burn calories when, for the same caloric expenditure, the lawn could have been mowed.

How come walking (324 calories per hour) uses so much fewer than going for a hike (432 cph) ? I don't get that. When I go for a hike, I walk.

Grocery shopping (232 cph) is purportedly so much less than just plain walking even though, along with walking, it also includes, bending, reaching, pushing a cart, squeezing tomatoes, sorting coupons, and making mental calculations. Illogical!

If you were really burning calories around the house by vacuuming (175 cph) or folding laundry (120 cph) shouldn't all of that calorie burning set off the smoke detectors? That never happens.

Most of these numbers seem unlikely and arbitrary. For instance, shoveling sand, gravel or heavy snow supposedly burns a whopping 939 calories an hour whereas, according to the same chart -- shoveling sawdust, light snow, or manure burns a mere 544 calories. Data like that makes you wonder who's really shoveling what.

The Counter Argument

I can hear some of you countering now, "Just because you can't see calories, doesn't mean there not there. You can't see air, can you?"

"Well," I would counter in return," I see the point you are trying to make, but I come from Southern California and down there we could see air, sometimes even sink our teeth into it.

"Besides," (I would continue countering,) " if there were no air how could there be airplanes and airports and airbags, or air hockey, and air conditioning?" No one has been able to answer that one.

Back in the mid 1800's before calories had been invented, a popular medical adviser of the day recommended that people eat less than four pounds of food a day, with about 1/4 of that being meat.

Things were so much simpler then. No one worried about calories, nutrients, minerals or vitamins.

Come to think of it... have you ever seen a photo of a vitamin?


Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 12, 2011:

Thanks for commenting, Lucille. I think I will try to avoid that strategy. You'd better, too. I don't think you need to lose any weight.

Lucille Apcar on November 12, 2011:

I LOVE IT. Come to think of it, a good way to lose calories is being confined in a hospital or a re-hab center. Maybe not all, but the ones whose beds I recently had to occupy served food so bad I couldn't identify most of it. And when you don't know what you're eating you don't eat it. Just look in the mirror and take a picture of all the vanished calories.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 20, 2011:

A belated Thank you, habee.

Holle Abee from Georgia on September 20, 2009:

Too funny! Great stuff!

charanjeet kaur from Delhi on May 19, 2009:

lol Rochelle thinking of it ive never seen what a calorie looks like but i go to gym to work my ass off. All the time i think is if only life could be easy without working out. hahah im going to ask my gym instructor the same question on what does he think calorie looks like. interesting read indeed.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 10, 2008:

Thanks, Smoothie.

SmoothieKing33 from Chestnut Hill, MA on July 09, 2008:

Cute. Love your stuff.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 07, 2008:

See, what did I tell you?

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on July 07, 2008:

Hmph, I've been shoveling manure for 30 years and I don't think I've burned a single calorie.

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