Energy For Body's Needs Is Supplied By Calories
( Originally Published 1936 )
Some illustrations, which attempted to convey graphically just what a calorie is, were given yesterday.
For instance, a calorie is the amount of energy which will raise a ton about one and a half feet.
This leads us to some interesting calculations. Even in bed, an adult of average weight uses up 1,500 calories. So at the lowest limits of activity your body requires enough energy to raise a ton a little less than half a foot.
Where does all the energy go to? Most of it is used by the heart in pumping blood through the vessels. If a man weighing 150 pounds were to be converted into a sort of elevator and his heart used as the engine, and it started to raise him through the shaft of a modem office building, the heart would land him on about the fiftieth floor in the course of twenty-four hours.
One mustn't think of him as scooting up to the fiftieth floor as a modem elevator does. The point is the time element. The body's processes as an engine are slow. In one minute he would rise only about a foot.
Besides the work of the heart, body energy goes to moving the chest in breathing, moving the muscles of the intestines, thousands of eye movements, tongue movements, the chemical energy of nutrition. Yes, even while you are lying in bed, your body is doing plenty of things.
Where does the energy come from to do all these things? Of course, from calories in the food. And here again we come across some surprising calculations.
The greatest energizer—that is, the quickest and most successful form of human energy—is sugar. It doesn't make much difference what kind of sugar, although the simplest is the best. But since ordinary granulated sugar is more familiar than any other, we will use it as an example.
A lump of granulated sugar, as usually served, weighs about five grams, and as sugar has a value of four calories per gram, we find the astonishing fact that half a lump of granulated sugar has enough potential energy to raise 100 men a foot and a half.
There is a catch to it, because the body is not a perfect machine and cannot utilize 100 per cent of the potential energy of its foods. But it does pretty well. It uses 33 per cent.
So we see that using dietetics as an exact science, we can conjure up some rather curious speculations.