Ask Science: How Many Calories in a Human?

Sunday October 28, 2018 Written by Ronan

Eat G1

Ever wondered how many calories you would consume if you ate someone? No? Well, because scientists like the University of Brighton's James Cole prefer to leave no stone unturned, we now have a credible answer.

Cole’s calculation (published recently in Nature) involved looking at every bit of the body and applying something known as the 4:4:9 ratio: one gram of protein equals four calories, one gram of carbohydrate equals four calories, and one gram of fat equals nine calories.

You may not want to think about it, and hopefully you never have to apply it like the pioneers in James Town, but feeding on your fellow fellow will yield you around 125,000 calories (provided they're a 70-kilogram chap). That would consist of 83,000 fat calories and 45,000 protein calories. (For a full breakdown of what body parts give you what calories, see this handy horrible table.)

After doing the maths, Cole was thankfully able to conclude that humans make a pretty substandard meal. Hungry hunter-gatherers would be much better off eating a wooly mammoth, whose muscles alone contain a whopping 3.6 million calories. That’s assuming they could find one, which of course they can’t because… uhh… we ate them all. At least we still have beavers, which clock in at a respectable 4,000 calories per kilo.

To delve deeper into this hopefully useless science, check out this full report on Nature.