Counting calories is not at all necessary to lose weight. The type and source of calories in our diet is much more important to keep in mind because different calorie sources have completely different effects on the body and the metabolism. Below are 5 reasons why a calorie is not just a calorie.
In This Article:
- Is a Calorie Just a Calorie?
- The Laws Of Thermodynamics?
- Why are All Calories Not The Same?
- A General Rule of Thumb
Is this true? Let us see.
Let’s ask a question. We have a bottle of soda of 1000 calories and a bowl of spinach of 1000 calories. Which do you think will make you fat? I don’t think there is anyone who would say in this case that the calories were same. Clearly, they are not.
All foods behave differently in the body. It’s only the doctors, nutritionists, fitness trainers and soda companies that keep perpetuating this wrong concept.
But, the Laws Of Thermodynamics?
Yeah, we hear it every day from fitness trainers, commercials & gym-rats, well pretty much everyone really, “Calorie In vs Calorie Out”, “Law Of Thermodynamics … bro”, “Burn Fat”, etc.
The Law Of Thermodynamics does not apply to living, breathing biological systems in the same way it would in a test-tube from a chemistry lab. An explanation of differences in calories– by Dr. Mark Hyman.
Read more: How do we calculate calories in food?
Why are all calories not the same?
Reason 1: Fibre
Fiber delays the absorption of calories. Example, if you eat 200 calories from almonds, you only absorb 160 calories. This is because a lot of calories are lost while digesting it in the gut to the gut bacteria and also, some portions just pass through undigested.
Reason 2: Protein
All foods are metabolized differently. Proteins can be used to build the body or to provide energy/calories. It can give 4 Cal/gm. 25-30% of calories are used up to metabolize it, whereas carbs take 6-8% and fat 2-3%. Read more: Thermic effects of foods
Reason 3: Satiety
Different foods give different levels of satiety after eating them. Proteins satiate the most. Simple carbs & even complex carbs can cause more hunger in obese people because their bodies can metabolize carbs very quickly. All the Hunger Hormones increases. Fat has a neutral effect when eaten alone. It does not create hunger. Read more: What creates uncontrollable hunger?
Reason 4: Glycemic Index
It shows how fast can different types of food raise blood sugar.
When we eat foods that raise blood sugar sky high, we tend to become hungry and start craving sugar and starchy foods. Refined carbs or whole grains in most people, tends to lead to a huge spike in sugar levels and leads to a sugar crash later. In diabetics, this is easily observable, as they feel very tired right after a carb-rich meal. Read more: Glycemic Index Chart
Reason 5: Diets
The type of diet matters more than the number of calories.
Low Carb Diets and Ketogenic Diets have consistently been shown to induce weight loss even with eating excess calories and without much exercise. They have been shown to be very effective for weight loss for insulin resistant people.
Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) requires significant exercise and calorie restriction to induce weight loss. Most people, 9 out of 10, can’t lose any weight on this diet as they can’t sustain it because of constant hunger.
A general rule of thumb
What this means is, a calorie of carbohydrate is not the same as a calorie from fat or protein, nor are all carbohydrate handled in the same way by the body. As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend consuming only minimally or unprocessed whole foods.
Ultimately, the quality of the food we eat determines the kind of the calories we get, which impacts not only our weight but also our overall health and fitness.
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Counting calories is not necessary to lose weight. The type and source of calories in our diet is much more important. All calories are not the same.
- The photos are from:pexels.com (CC0 license)
- Please read the medical disclaimer
- Citations: drhyman.com, nutritionfacts.org