The type of food and the quantity consumed, as well as its form of cooking and the flavoring, are factors that determine the energy value of a recipe.
The calories contained in foods have become an obsession for certain people and represent the workhorse against which they struggle to maintain or recover, depending on the case, figure, and health. Addressing some of the characteristics inherent in all foods, but also some of the circumstances surrounding their consumption, are key to intuit the caloric content of the daily diet and put it in context with lifestyle and individual circumstances. To get an idea of the calories consumed, it will be necessary to take into account the distribution in each specific food of the macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. But we must also look at other factors, such as how to prepare and accompany them. Similarly, the amount ingested.
Calories in food
The number of calories in food in its natural state (raw) depends on a single factor: the proportion of macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, each with a specific energy value. Alcohol is another component of food that also provides energy after your organic metabolism.
The caloric intake of each of them is variable. Carbohydrates and protein provide 4 Kcal per gram and fat, about 9 Kcal. Alcohol provides about 7 Kcal per gram, relevant when quantifying a person’s intake, especially when the consumption of alcoholic beverages is high.
In order to estimate calories in different foods, a unique criterion must be used to match them. The standard measure of “100 grams of food” is used to compare the caloric content between the different foods, regardless of the ration that is consumed afterward. To guide you about the caloric content of a food, it is useful to know two questions:
– What is its content in water? The higher the water content, the lower energy intake, given that water does not provide calories. Fruits and vegetables are foods with a considerable amount of water, around 90-95% of their weight, which is why they contribute few calories. On the other hand, when a food does not have much water, its energy content will be higher, as is the case of dried legumes, cereals and nuts.
– What is its fat content? It is the macronutrient that brings more calories, more than twice per unit of weight than proteins and carbohydrates. In short, foods with little or no water and fat will provide the most calories. This is the case of oils (regardless of their nature), butter, margarine, and nuts.
Cooking methods and quantity
In addition macronutrients proportions, other factors modify the caloric value of food and therefore must be considered.
The standard consumption ration: although a food that by its characteristics has many calories is chosen, its consumption does not have to result in a high energy input. Butter has a high energy value of about 750 Kcal / 100 grams, although the consumption ration is small, 10-15 g (the size of the butter or margarine tablets offered by some restaurants), and this is a contribution of about 112 Kcal, similar to that of a glass of semi-skimmed milk. The nuts have an average contribution of about 600 Kcal / 100 grams and its standard ration, about 25 grams, is up to 150 Kcal, similar to a vegetable plate with potato.
The cooking methods are another factor that influences the final energy input of a recipe. A serving of 100 grams of boiled mussels (without shell) provides about 110 Kcal. The same amount of “tiger mussels” (prepared with tomato, onion, flour, etc. and fried) can quadruple the energy supply, about 450 Kcal. This example can be extrapolated to almost any recipe and food: it is not the same a steak of grilled veal that a veal stew, or a plate of fresh asparagus with a vinaigrette that another of stuffed asparagus.
In summary, having a general idea of whether the intake is more or less high in terms of calories, it is advisable to look at both the nature of the food itself and the frequency and quantity, how to prepare and season it.