Quantifying Energy in Diet and Thermodynamics by Nate Koo and Obed Miranda


Yotree-energy-rootsu may or may not already know that energy occurs everywhere, and is the reason that we live. In chemistry energy can be viewed as a gigantic tree that expands out into different branches, of this pictured energy tree, and in those branches they all tie back to the same concept, energy. In this giant tree the forms of energy can be explained, how energy flows, or simply what energy is.

Energy is the ability to do work, the work of course can vary from digestion to physically working and using potential energy stored in you. You might already know that energy comes from food. But the way that energy is actually measured in food, or the energy an actual battery holds is calories, joules, or watts. You’re probably familiar with calories, one of many ways to quantify energy. Calories are seen everywhere we go, they are seen in nutritional facts so that we can watch our diet, and in fact companies that serve food are legally required to give out their nutritional facts in some easily accessible form.


Now, how do we actually measure out a 100 calorie serving of salad, or a 1000 calorie serving of a hamburger. One way to do this is a process using combustion. In a chemical combustion it has to involve oxygen, a plentiful gas found here on earth, and carbon must be involved in the process, we use these elements and others in the chemical reaction, combustion, to basically “burn stuff”.  An example of a combustion reaction is like burning wood. The process of this is burning the actual food until it cannot be burned further. Luckily for us, scientists have already done this and there is no need for us to burn our food.   Another way to quantify energy like in the previous example, the battery, is to measure out volts with a fancy device called a multi-meter that can measure out different types of energy, like wattage. It is important to us to know wattage, or how many volts something has, think about your cell phone or computer, if you carry around the wrong type of battery, with the wrong type of voltage, it may not work, or even start a fire, or explosion.  It is important to know these things so we can measure our diet, and not 20x20.jpghave a lot of exploding cell phones *cough Samsung*. You might be thinking, what makes one volt, a volt, or what makes a calorie, one calorie? Summed up easily it is because a group of dudes came together and said “hey, let’s just say this much is a volt, or this much is a calorie”. The process of course involved a lot more thinking, but it is a good summary, and we base our entire way of measuring energy on what a group of guys said.  In our blog, “Quantifying Energy in Diet and Thermodynamics by Nate Koo and Obed Miranda”, we explain the concept of how energy is measured, by providing formulas. This provides a deeper understanding of how energy plays such a major role in our lives and other study area, it could influence the way people look at anything now, for example, food.


Today, the U.S. along with many developed countries around the world enjoys a period of prosperity compared to the past and many people do worry about how to reduce the weight and what to enjoy other than ‘how’ to get the foods. The global issue has been changed from starvation to obesity. To be specific you can see many Hollywood celebrities on TV and they look healthy and slender, which reflects the trend of the period. This change of mechanism makes people worry about what to eat instead of whether to be able to eat or not, and the energy concept is at the center of the solution. What we have to concentrate is the calorie density on it. The more we chooscalories.jpge to eat lower-calorie ingredients, the healthier our body is (Sneak Your Vegetables, 2007). The higher calorie density the food has, the more time a human body spends to digest it. Once you can read the calorie and interpret the meaning as it is shown on every product in a market, you take the first step to distinguish nutrient factors. In accordance with The International System of Units (SI), “The unit of quantity of heat is the joule” (pg. 145).

1 cal = 4.184 J

1 cal stands for the 1/100 calorie to raise 1g of purified water from 0°C to 100°C. Generally, it is enacted that every foods product has to be labeled how much calorie it has. (Picture) In the nutritional study, sometimes calories of foods are used as Cal or kcal, which is 1,000 times to cal. For example, a Big Mac sandwich has 563 kcal, not 563 cal, but 563,000 calorie. Then, how can we apply this numerical value to our diet and health?

http://www.healthassist.net/calories/ ← Link of the Tool to measure how much exercise is needed to burn calorie.

According to the journal regarding fat oxidation, which is a reaction to create energy on a human body that store three fuel sources (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) combined with oxygen delivery, he explains that “When the food energy is decreased, or when exercise levels are increased, fat oxidation will typically increase” (Gale, 2007). Simply, this fat oxidation can be explained by Glycogenolysis and TCA cycle, which is the process to make energy through decomposition of glucose (Kusinitz, 2014). From those complex chemical reactions in a human body, it is decided whether we get fat or not. From now on you can measure how much daily calorie you may want to take, which is called BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This will indicate you the amount of essential calorie to balance your body.

Link to access more about Fat Oxidation: http://alancouzens.blogspot.com/2008/05/improving-fat-oxidation.html


Link to access more about Fat Oxidation: http://alancouzens.blogspot.com/2008/05/improving-fat-oxidation.html


Another context that we use energy to make it into sense with numbers is thermodynamics. “Thermodynamics is the study of the transfer of energy in physical systems, as well as the effects of changes in temperature, volume, and pressure. In chemistry, thermodynamics focuses on the transfer of energy associated with chemical reactions,”(2001, Thermodynamics).

We can argue knowing units and how to measure energy is such a major role in thermodynamics because without a way to measure energy in thermodynamics, it makes outside experimentation difficult and impossible.

Without giving energy in thermodynamics a measurement you might never know how much heat to add or remove, imagine trying to cook a pizza but you have no idea at which fahrenheit to put it, you might have it at 10 degrees and have to wait an eternity or have it at 1000 degrees fahrenheit and burn the pizza. Imagine a world with no  pizza, sad isn’t it?

We’d never have a way to precisely measure how hot or cold we want something. “The unit of energy in the International System of Units (SI) is the joule (J), and it is replacing many older units (such as the calorie),” (2001, Thermodynamics). We almost always use joules when dealing with thermodynamics. Thermodynamics can tell us when a certain object or liquid will boil or melt. Without the concept of measuring energy, we’d have no system such as fahrenheit, celsius, or kelvin. We’d never know when water will boil, or how cold it has to be for water to turn into ice for our drinks. We’d also never know exactly what temperature to keep our refrigerators at, so certain things that have to be kept cold, like milk would end up going bad.


Quantifying energy skill plays a major role in everyday health and a study of dynamics in terms of forcing heat in that diet is directly connected with living in modern society and measuring itself is meaningful. This chemistry concept is not only important in chemistry, related to electron movement of chemical reactions, but also necessary in living everyday life having something to do with energy and an energy transfer in physical movement. It is what makes everything happen. Knowing how much energy goes into everything can strive for great things; like having non-exploding cell phones, or never burning our food, to how much food we should intake to keep our bodies moving on and achieving our potential. Knowing how to measure energy helps us live in this crazy world.


Calculator. [Digital Image]. (2016, June). Retrieved from http://theaspenclinic.com/2016/06/21/bmr-why-it-matters/

Fat oxidation. (2007). In K. L. Lerner & B. W. Lerner (Eds.), World of Sports Science. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from https://ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CV2644830160/SCIC?u=mcc_chandler&xid=37a34715

Greg Daniels G.D.(Creator). (n.d). Food Energy [Digital Gif]. Retrieved from                        http://www.krys23.tumblr.com/post48387821/did-you-know-that-food-becomes-energy   

Kusinitz, M. (2014). Glycolysis. In K. L. Lerner & B. W. Lerner (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Science (5th ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. Retrieved from https://ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CV2644031021/SCIC?u=mcc_chandler&xid=a050b436

Large burger. [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from                                 https://secretmenus.com/in-n-out-burger/nutrition-info/

Marsh, Kenneth M. (2014). Calorimetry. In AccessScience. McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved from                                                                                                                          http://dx.doi.org/10.1036/1097-8542.104500

Muffin Top Cop M.T.C. (Author). (2011, May). Wendy’s [Photograph]. Retrieved from             https://muffintopcop.wordpress.com/tag/wedys/

Nutrition facts. [Digital Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from                                 http://www.shapesense.com/nutrition/articles/calories-explained.aspx

Saladin, K. S. (2016). Metabolism, Human. In M. S. Hill (Ed.), Biology (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 77-80). Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from https://ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3629800274/SCIC?u=mcc_chandler&xid=43aa80e9

Sneak your vegetables. (2007, July). Science and Children, 7. Retrieved from https://ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A168631522/SCIC?u=mcc_chandler&xid=0fe57c04

The International System of Units (SI) [8th edition]. (2006). Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. Retrieved from http://search.bipm.org/bipm/en/C=eJw9xstygjAUAND7MV3ZRSFACMuCUJGB!sAZ242DIUg0IRDkoV9fV12d0wEthNKcgQDWQAMbrcpT2FwE72toa9WwO6dggGBSFi!LttVqfkXDO014U36YxDaJhTEmjkkMx7IR9qCnEho2Mg3l*96mnnXA1nN0TY1kun5u64gIN7yNXU6sx*aX!LlpH!!J8HVyzvitqFbdMlrOXkqeqyGkg!2gY9Gqm95eKfaTB0rdMIvarLdMq13EgSURUrsqUBU9595TYkdH!2gfxjOvPZmVAYmHQ6oEqXHq8ORgK7rLpR9Pbrr55l*0p*IHtHYXXaXGcxEb!eV0gj9gnVut?action=s&r=%2bcLanguage%2f15987730302945211708

Thermodynamics. (2001). World of Physics. Gale. Retrieved from https://ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CV2434500528/SCIC?u=mcc_chandler&xid=696fdfe7


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