A popular refrain you hear from dietitians and nutritionists alike is "calories in, calories out." The implication being, if you eat more calories than you burn in your diet, you will gain weight. And conversely if you eat fewer calories than you burn, then you are in for some weight loss. Seems simple enough right?
Not So Fast
This conclusion, while intuitive, is false. Not all calories are created equal. Please don't go out and get your 2000 calories from an all Coca Cola and Cheetos diet, we want you to make sure you live to see your grand kids! Let me give you four examples that explain some differences in those calories that you're eating.
If you consume 160 calories of almonds, how many calories are you absorbing? The answer is actually 130 calories. The fiber contained in the almonds makes it so that the calories from the food are implanted deeper into the gut, making it so that you only absorb 130 of the calories instead of all 160.
There are different types of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fat necessary for healthy heart and brain function, along with many other benefits. Trans-fats on the other hand are incredibly harmful to your health, and should be avoided at all costs. Both however will have the same calorie count on the nutrition facts label.
It takes double the energy to process a a gram of protein than it does a gram of a carbohydrate. That energy used for digestion is consuming calories. Not to mention, protein are the building blocks of muscle, which is active tissue. Simply having muscle on your body will cause you to consume more calories burning fat, even while you're at rest. After all, a calorie is simply a unit measure of energy.
Fructose vs. Glucose
Most of the carbs you eat will be broken down into the glucose, the body's preferred energy source. This glucose will either immediately be used for energy, or stored in the liver or muscle cells for use later on. Fructose on the other hand is a sweeter sugar found in many fruits and vegetables. It is often added to soft drinks and other foods. If fructose goes unused, it will, with the help of insulin, be poured into fat synthesis and be stored in your body as fat. Even with all of this, on your food label the calorie count for these two types of sugars will remain the same, though their affects on your body are very different.
Check back with us regularly for more messages about calories, nutrition, and working out. And check out the link below for a plant extract that stops fat cells from forming in your body.
Dr. Robert Lustig, The Diane Rehm Show, January 7, 2013.
Kimberly Ancira, What is the Difference Between Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose.