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I'm sorry if this question has been asked before, but I looked around here and elsewhere online and couldn't find the answer.
Does cooking something have an effect on the amount of calories in it? Basically I'm wondering if calories are ever burned off/used in the cooking process so that it would make the calorie count of an item higher raw then cooked. I would certainly think something flambéed would burn off some of the calories in the flames, wouldn't it?
I'm actually wondering about this in particular in regards to things like olive oil or light butter which I use to grease a pan to cook with for stir frying or baking for example. It seems like a lot of that burns off and isn't actually in the food, so does that mean when I'm calculating the calories in a recipe should I actually put in a smaller quantity for that item in order to get a more accurate count, or is it all just some sort of optical illusion and I should put in the full amount.
If you are talking meat and fish, you should definitely log the cooked quantity. There is water loss and some fat loss. For recipes, 1 pound fresh yields about 3/4 pound cooked.
Two other items that through off the analyzer are beans and rice. Small dry quantities yield large cooked quantities through the large absorption of water, by about a factor of 3 or 4.
There is little calorie loss or gain when cooking food. Some food absorb water, some foods release water. The cooked weight may differ from the raw weight but the calorie count generally stays the same. Grilling foods and allowing the fat to drain off, does affect the calorie count but by a very small amount if you start off with a lean cut in the first place. If you flambee something you burn off alcohol but not calories. If you add olive oil to a stir-fry, it does not 'burn off' so if you use 1 tablespoon, add those calories.
Strictly speaking, the number of Calories in food do not change when you cook it. HOWEVER: Cooking will change how much energy your body expends digesting the food, and also, how much of the energy the body receives from the food. This is a significant effect that is not taken into account when counting calories. If you want to lose more weight while eating the same number of calories, try to eat more raw food, and don't cut it up or grind it up as much.
Here is an interesting article on the subject:
I still believe that you have to track & restrict all your calories, but keep in mind that better food choices also help.
PS: Diet soft drinks don't help weight loss