Tag Archives: Food

Why do calories matter for losing weight but the weight of the food doesn’t?

Actually the weight of the food does matter, but not in the way that you think.

Food is composed of a bunch of different types of chemicals. Most has a fair bit of water in it which we urinate or sweat out after a while. Then there are proteins (building blocks that the body uses to grow or repair itself), carbohydrates (sugars and starches that the body burns to provide energy), fats (same) and fibre (which is the part that the body can’t digest and passes through).

Really only three of those ingredient types – carbohydrates, fats and proteins – are stored by the body for future emergency use and contribute to weight gain. They all become body fat or muscle, and they all contribute to the calorie count of food.

But food that weighs a lot but has really low amounts of those three types, like say celery, has almost all of its weight locked into water and fibre. It actually takes energy to go through the process of digesting food, so a celery stick or two actually helps with weight loss by both filling you up so you don’t eat as much other stuff, and consuming energy to process through your body.

Why are canned foods high in sodium? Doesn’t canning eliminate the need for preservatives?

Not entirely.

First, depending on the food we’re talking about, salt might be an inherent part of the process, either of canning in particular or just the food in general. Pickles? Olives? Gotta have salt. Salt is also a critical ingredient in any number of fermented foods, many of which are canned.

Second, salt is a flavor enhancer. Processed food manufacturers have tended to add loads of salt to a wide variety of foods for the better part of a century as a way of making their products tastier. Canned foods are hardly unique here.

Third, while canned vegetables are certainly saltier than their raw counterparts, they’re not necessarily as salty as you might think. One 30g slice of white bread has a little less than three times as much sodium as 28g of canned green beans.

Fourth, while canning certainly tends to kill biological organisms, it’s not magic. Some organisms are merely weakened. Some may even survive, though in small enough numbers that they can’t cause a problem if the food is eaten within a year or two. A little salt goes a long way towards ensuring that fewer bacteria survive, and those that do stay dormant.

But lastly, bacteria aren’t the only things that contribute to food spoilage. There are other chemical processes that have nothing to do with bacteria that can make food go bad, or at least lose quality over time. Discoloration comes immediately to mind, but that’s not the only thing. Flavors can change. Textures can break down. Foods can take on flavors from their containers. Salt creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria, to be sure, but it also tends to interfere with some of these other processes, making it useful as a preservative even in a largely sterile environment.

What is the difference between ketchup and tomato sauce?

Ketchup usually contains additional ingredients such as sugar, vinegar, seasonings (salt, garlic, pepper, cloves, etc.)

Although tomato sauce can have more ingredients, at its most basic form it is simply tomatoes cooked down with a bit of lemon juice, vinegar or salt.

Both forms require a long cooking time to reduce the tomato to a soft sauce-like form.

Ketchup is only ever ketchup: that sugary vinegary tomatoey red goop they sell in bottles at the store.

Tomato sauce could be used to describe a whole range of tomato based sauces.

Ketchup is a sauce made of tomatoes, so it is a tomato sauce, but there are other tomato sauces that are not ketchup.

Why do Asian countries have a much smaller rate of obesity than the US?

There are genetic predispositions involved in obesity, but also considerable differences in diet and culture.  

Obesity has been growing a lot in China, as its food supply industrializes and Western practices like using cheap, non-natural sugars in packaged foods increase.  

However, it doesn’t seem to be an issue in Japan or South Korea, where cuisine is strongly cultural and not just based on economics.  Food preparation and balance is taken very seriously, in ways that are similar to French and Italian culture, but with very small portion sizes.

There is also a cultural emphasis on shame, so an obese person is more motivated to take whatever measures may be necessary to lose weight, whereas there is more of a rationalizing and individualist view in most Western societies.  

Shaming a fat person is unethical in Western culture while being one is ethically neutral (except in that maybe you cause people who care about you to worry for your health), whereas in Japan, being fat could be considered mildly unethical because you may be embarrassing your family and the people you’re associated with.

Why is pizza the most popular delivery food?

Pretty much every ingredient in pizza is low cost and shelf stable.

Pizza can be customized many different ways but still made quickly.

The nature of pizza cooking is fast but holds for a significant period.

This all makes delivery possible with low overhead and lots of options with a product that is still fresh when delivered.

Burgers require perishables, take too long to cook and aren’t peak after 10 minutes of sitting.

What happens to the water content of an egg that has been hard-boiled?

Most of an egg white is water and most of what isn’t water is protein. When you cook the egg white and it becomes opaque and semi solid, it’s not because you dehyrdrated the egg white, but rather because the proteins were denatured and have unfolded and refolded in such a way as to trap the water it contains in a sort of protein prison creating a gel mesh which keeps the water from running out.

By continuing to cook the egg, you can indeed make the folded protein mesh “squeeze” the water out of the eggs. This is most commonly seen in overcooked scrambled eggs, which get rather tough and then just release their water to pool in the pan or on the plate once too much heat has been applied.

What was considered junk food in ancient times?

Junk food is really the result of our modern ability to process food down to very calorie dense ingredients (like white flour, refined sugar, oils, etc) then very cheaply recombine them into highly calorie dense products without any fiber, little water, and few nutrients allowing anyone to inexpensively eat lots of calories before they feel full.  

That’s hard to find in ancient times because they didn’t have oil/natural gas to supply massive amounts of energy to everyone. So the few products that are similar to junk food today required lots of labor (and was delicacy enjoyed only by the very important) or occasional products where we use something else’s labor (think honey, cream, or some alcoholic beverages – though many of these were watered down). These still tended to be quite expensive.

How does diet soda have 0 calories?

There are several different types of artificial sweeteners. But generally they are much sweeter than regular sugar, and some cannot be broken down by the body.

For example, Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame. Aspartame is a protein which tastes 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame has 4 calories per gram, just the same as regular sugar. But because it’s much sweeter, you require much less aspartame (1/200th) to make a drink that has the equivalent sweetness. If 1 can of regular Coke has say 150 calories, then 1 can of Diet Coke would have less than one calorie. So labeling laws allow Coke to label it as having 0 calories.

Another artificial sweetener is Splenda. It also tastes much sweeter than sugar, so you need to use less of it. But also, Splenda cannot be digested by the body so it effectively has 0 calories.

What is baking soda? What are its health benefits?

Baking soda is one of the most used chemicals in the world. Most of the houses have a pinch of it somewhere, for a wide range of uses. It is known in various names like bread soda and cooking soda. The scientific name of the substance is Sodium Bicarbonate. It is basically a salt composed of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It is normally found in solid state, either in the form of crystals or as a fine powder. The natural mineral form of baking soda is nahcolite.
Baking soda has been in use for several centuries in different forms, though the industrial production was started in 1846, when two bakers from New York, John Dwight and Austin Church, established a factory to develop the chemical from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. The production process of baking soda is known as solvay process.
As said earlier, baking soda has a great variety of uses and is said to have numerous health benefits. It can be used to kill pests as well as to remove paint and corrosion. It is also used as a disinfectant and fire extinguisher in small scale, not to mention cooking. The name itself is attributed to its use in baking in which the chemical is used as a leavening agent. When mixed with an acid, baking soda reacts to it and releases carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough to expand and rise.
Some of its properties make it useful in medical fields as well. It is perfect for some home remedies, considering how cheap it is. For example, it can be used as a natural deodorant. It is also used to treat allergic reaction to plants such as poison ivy and the stings caused by insect bites.
Baking soda is often used to remove skin splinters. Applying the it on the splinters daily will produce a result in a few days. It also find a use in exfoliating the skin as well as a soaking bath. The chemical has been found to kill streptococcus mutans bacteria that causes tooth decay and is found in many toothpastes in tiny amounts. It also contributes to whitening the teeth. Another use for baking soda is as a supplement to athletes, particularly in speed-based events.
The chemical is used in treating some diseases as well, such as hyperkalemia. It is an excellent substance to alleviate problems with indigestion and pain related to ulcers. Some even have proposed it as a cure of cancer, but that is yet to be proven.
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What is the origin of the phrase “beer belly”? Does beer really cause pot belly?

Beer belly is a popular colloquial term for the abdominal obesity. It is also known in various names like potbelly, beer gut and beer pot. Its origins are unknown, although it might have stemmed from the tendency of habitual drinkers develop a protruding belly over time, especially of old men. But does beer actually cause pot belly?
Despite the popular assumptions, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that beer in particular causes any kind of obesity, at least no more than the other alcoholic beverages we consume. Beer drinkers come in all sizes and shapes. There are many beer drinkers with athletic build. A beer belly is much likely to be noticed in people leading sedentary lives than those who do physical labors.
Beer is like its relative beverages. None of them contains fat. They are actually rich in calories but these calories come from alcohol, which is a carbohydrate. Different beverages contain varying amount of calories, and a drinkers calorie intake purely depends on the consumption and the amount of calories contained in the particular beverage.
The primary reason for beer belly is the large amount of caloric intake. Any type of calories can result in a fat midsection. And, alcohol in particular can trigger the formation of a pot belly since the liver burns alcohol before the fat. A normal beer contains about 150 calories. Many of us drink too much beer in one go, and that means a large caloric intake as well as reduction in burning of fat. Add to it the fact that alcohol increases appetite. We tend to eat more food when consuming alcohol as well. Any excess calories would be stored as fat in our body. It naturally leads to overweight and potbelly. It is more noticeable in men because they tend to store the fat in midsection while the women store the excess fat in arms, thighs, buttocks and bellies combined. It is more prominent in older people as well, since they have less caloric need and are less active making weight gaining easier.
So, the beer is not alone to blame that protruding belly of yours. There are a lot of factors playing a major part, like uncontrolled diet, alcohol consumption in general, hormone imbalance, lack of exercise and even stress. Balance is the keyword here. With a balance in diet and exercise, one need not worry about beer belly and its consequences.
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