How do calories work when cooking/baking?



When you cook, you have the ingredients that you use, and each of those has a certain amount of calories. When you mix them together and cook them, does the calorie count change as they are getting cooked?

Does the law of conservation of energy apply to calories? Where they can’t be destroyed or created, only transferred?

Am I overthinking this?

In: Biology

Cooking doesn’t have any significant effect on the calorie count. If you actually *burn* something, like overcook it until it turns black, now you’re releasing the same energy that your digestive system would have extracted and the calorie count is going down. Unfortunately you’re also making the food taste yucky.

Conservation should definitely apply to the chemical energy in food, just like anything else. Human-usable food energy is created when plants absorb sunlight, as long as they convert it into sugars or starches we can digest. If the plant converts that energy into cellulose fiber, then it’s still energy but our guts can’t access it.

Actually really good question, and I never thought about it as a physics major, but it is stupid simple, the cooking “gives” the energiy and the thermal energy of water inside beverages will grow, which means if you eat it hot you really putting in more energy inside your guts.. ofc it will not turn in to “calories” as we think about it, but as some of our energy consumption is reserved for us to keep our body warm, statistically this should help, and we should use up a bit less of energy, so eating warm food makes you fat in a super exaggerated meaning 😀 kind of interesting

Cooking food can make calories more available. Some things are harder to chew or digest, when something is hard to chew or digest you will get less than 100% of the calories that food contained (realistically you never get 100% of anything anyway)

Some foods, cooking makes it much easier for your body to get the nutients out of the food

However, if you burn food, you can certainly destroy calories- if you burn sugar in the frying pan you are burning calories… As for conservation of energy, if you burn the sugar on the stove you will release energy in the form of heat, and reduce the sugar to carbon, water, oxygen etc

Your initial assumption is quite good. When you mix ingredients and cook them the calorie count of the final product should be the sum of the calories in the ingredients. And it is usually not far off. However the calories can change during cooking. The obvious thing is of course that there are chemical reactions taking place using up the energy in the food. For example when heating up food then the sugar and fat can start to brake down releasing their energy. But also when you are working with yeasts, for example when baking bread, it also is going to use some of the sugars to produce some heat. However calorie count does not always go down. One thing you might not think about is that the fat you use when frying or searing something will penetrate into the food and you end up with less of it that you throw away. This will increase the calorie count of your food. In addition to this there are some foods that have a lot of energy, but it is not easy to metabolize. Typically food that is rich in fibers and starch have relatively low calories but when you heat it up you convert these into more easily digestible forms such as sugar and their caloric content goes up without adding anything to it.