A Calorie is Just a Calorie – Or is It?

Green pepper with calorie count - When a Calorie, Isn't a CalorieCalories can make you crazy. Come on, admit it. If you’re concerned with dropping a few pounds, you probably check the calorie count of foods before you eat them. From the media to trending fitness apps, we’re programmed to count calories. Funny thing is, counting calories may not be the solution to weight loss we once thought it was. How is this possible? A calorie is just a calorie. Or, is it?

When a Calorie Isn’t a Calorie

The belief that all calories are created equal has been a popular one down through the years, but popularity doesn’t always equal accuracy. Let’s think about this: your body is like a chemistry lab – what you use for fuel produces a chain reaction.

Thinking of food as fuel is actually a great way to illustrate this point. Saying a”calorie is a calorie” is like saying gasoline is gasoline. That’s just crazy – different cars require a different octane and what you put in your car will affect its performance. See where we’re going here? The quality of the calorie matters, not just for weight loss, but for the energy our bodies produce.

How Calories Affect Weight Loss

This seeming flaw in reasoning has a direct impact on weight loss. A study from Harvard University proves that the number of calories consumed is not necessarily as important as the quality of those calories. Let me repeat that…number of calories consumed is not necessarily as important as the quality of those calories. Researchers studied 21 overweight and obese adults and started them on a diet with the goal of losing at least 12.5 percent of their body weight. The participants were divided in to three diet types: a low-calorie diet, an Atkins styled diet, and a low glycemic diet. After four weeks, the researchers found the low-glycemic, not the low-calorie diet that had the best results.

“Low calories may or may not make you thin,” says Theresa Albert, a registered nutritionist and author. “Overall, it is the quality of the calorie that counts, rather than the calorie itself when it comes to fighting off disease and maintaining health.” We agree with Theresa – the quality of the calorie matters, both for good health and weight management.

Low-Calorie Foods Might Make you Fat

The type of calories you are eating may pack on the pounds. Surprisingly, we’re not talking about fat.  If the extra calories are from fat, protein, or fiber, they’ll keep you satisfied-causing you to eat less. Remember the fuel we talked about earlier? The type of calories you eat (your body’s fuel) affects how efficiently people burn their energy, which is vital in losing weight.

There’s another way low calorie foods can  backfire. Low calorie foods are made possible by replacing healthy fats with sugars – leaving us hungry. If you’re eating low calorie foods but find yourself hungry, weight loss will be nearly impossible.

Fat Isn’t Always the Bad Guy

Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat. Sure, you need to balance fat intake for good cardiovascular function, but not getting enough healthy fats will prevent your body from properly absorbing the necessary nutrients found in your food. Fat will also keep you fuller longer. I start my mornings with “BulletProof coffee” recipe, which I add 2 tablespoonfuls of MCT Oil(extracted from coconut and palm oil) with 2 tablespoonfuls of free range organic no salt butter) whipped up in a blender. Total fat content for my breakfast=450 calories/52 gm of fat. Nothing else is eaten since I’m not hunger until noon. I’ll talk about good fats vs bad fats in a future blog. Balancing the right types of fat in your diet is crucial to proper nutrition.

So the next time you find yourself checking calorie counts, think about the quality of the calorie. Sure, monitoring calories has its place in a diet plan, but a low-calorie diet may not be the only answer to weigh loss, or good health for that matter. Keep yourself feeling full by replacing calories that are highly processed, starchy, and sugary, with those high in fiber and that contain healthy fats. A “quality calorie” is not only good for you, it may help you lose those extra pounds.

Feeling like you don’t know where to start? We can help. Our experienced nutritionists take the time needed to customize a diet plan to meet a variety of wellness goals. From prevention and weight loss to promoting immune system function – your goals are our priority. Contact us today.

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