DOES COOKED FOOD PROVIDE MORE ENERGY? Wrangham in the interview says that he was surprised that his paper in 1999 that argued that cooked food provides more energy than raw met with a lot of criticism that dismissed the claim. Wrangham had originally gotten the idea from research in the 70’s that included Wrangham’s eating a wild chimpanzee’s daily diet. When he did, he found himself hungry. He also had some evidence that half of women who ate a 100% raw diet stopped having periods, a sign of inadequate nutrition. However, for the most part, it had been assumed that there was no difference in caloric value between raw and cooked food. It turns out that there has been a journal for 70 years called Meat Science, and there were lots of books on the subject of meat science, but there had been no research on whether cooking made a difference in calorie value. For example, the USA uses “the Atwater Convention for assessing calories in food, a century-old system that treats food as being composed of a certain number of components, each of which has a fixed calorie value”—without considering whether the food is raw or cooked. Wrangham has now buttressed his claim with experiments with mice and can point to evidence that cooking breaks down collagen in meat which makes meat harder to chew and to studies which show that cooking gelatinizes starch, making it easier to digest. Wrangham thinks that when more research is done, “the increase in net calorie gain from cooking will prove to be in the region of 25­­–50%.”

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