Dr. Marion Nestle and Dr. Malden Nesheim’s Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics, is not a diet book selling you on the newest trend nor does it encourage you to count calories. Instead it does the seemingly impossible: It takes calories from the abstract to the concrete. Nestle and Nesheim explain the significance of the calorie not only in understandable scientific terms, but also in social terms with the explicit aim of helping their reader navigate the convoluted world of food labels and diet fads.
Nestle and Nesheim address frequently asked calorie-related questions like: Is there such a thing as negative calories and are some calories good and others bad? Chapters titles like “What is a Calorie?” belie the complex nature of the subject, but despite their respective PhD’s in molecular biology (Nestle) and nutrition (Nesheim) they manage to make the science of the calorie a personal and ultimately relatable subject.
And, not unlike Michael Pollan’s “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” mantra, Nestle and Nesheim leave us with four simple charges when it comes to calories: “Get organized. Eat less. Move more. Get political.”
I spoke with Nestle about her motives behind writing the book, the impossibility of estimating calories by sight, and the reason she got into this field in the first place. Read more