Mythbusted: Are All Calories Created Equal?

Calorie Scale

Yes, it’s true, as long as you stay in a calorie deficit, you could, in theory, lose weight while eating nothing but pop tarts, candy corn and potato chips. The thing is that if you were to do this hypothetical and ill-advised candy corn diet, you wouldn’t lose the right type of weight, or lose weight as quickly or as effectively as you would if you were dieting properly. On top of that, your health and energy levels would suffer and your risk for all sorts of chronic diseases would increase.

Big Mac

An example (while not perfect, since he wasn’t actually trying to lose weight) of this happening in real-life would be Morgan Spurlock’s experience in the documentary Supersize Me. In the film, Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. As a result of his experiment his liver turned into fat, his cholesterol shot up 65 points, he nearly doubled his risk of heart disease, became depressed and exhausted and had bad mood swings and massive cravings and headaches. Oh, he also gained around 24 pounds.

If that example doesn’t make it clear, what you eat is just as important as how much you eat, when it comes to weight loss and your health. Let’s find out why by learning a little bit more about how the body responds to the three basic types of calorie sources: proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Protein

  • ProtienProvides about 4 calories per gram.
  • Slows down digestion and maintains and builds new cells. Aids in weight loss by helping you feel full. It also makes it so more fat and less lean muscle is burned when you’re dieting.
  • Higher quality proteins, like fish or eggs, reduce appetite and optimize muscle repair and recovery. Lower quality proteins, like hamburger meat are loaded with branched-chain amino acids, which have been linked to metabolic disease and insulin resistance.

 

Carbohydrate

  • CarbsProvides about 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbs are used as a quick source of energy, mainly for the brain, liver and muscles.
  • High-quality carbohydrates typically contain fiber and are minimally processed. Fiber slows down your digestion and also slows the bodies absorption of sugar making you feel fuller, longer.  
  • The majority of your carbohydrate intake should come from minimally or unprocessed whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Lower-quality carbohydrates like white bread and white rice, usually lack fiber, contain little nutrition and cause insulin levels to spike which in turn causes weight gain.

 

Fat

  • FatsProvides about 9 calories per gram.
  • Fats slow digestion, deliver important fat-soluble vitamins to the body and provide important building blocks for cells.
  • Some fats are better for your health than others. For example, omega-3 fats, contained in foods like spinach, walnuts or eggs, have anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, artificial trans-fats, which are found in foods like cake, pies and cookies, can increase the amount of fat around the belly, as well as increase inflammation in the body and increase your risk for heart disease.

While you learned a little bit more about nutrition today and how your body processes various foods differently, please keep in mind that this blog post was quick and dirty and that we had to leave lots of important information out for the sake of brevity. If you’d like to know more about how to lose weight effectively, safely and quickly, we’d highly recommend you meet with one of our nutritionists.

 

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