“All Calories are Equal” Really? On to the Truth….
There are lots of myths out there about nutrition. Some of them can be very confusing – especially when the majority of people not only believe them, but also act on them. They very well known “every calorie is equal” myth is a statement to this. The reason that this myth in particular is so ridiculous, is because the sources of the calories we eat may be the most important part of our diet, and determine our overall health.
You’ve probably heard this quite a lot if you have ever tried to lose weight in the past. The idea was that if you simply burned as many calories as you consumed, you would lose weight and stay slim. The problem is however, since calories are not created equal, our bodies metabolize them very differently. This is exactly one of the reasons why certain folk “yo-yo” diet, because they are consuming the wrong foods and their bodies end up feeling deprived. Thus, they go back to their old eating habits. Implementing this myth into your lifestyle is simply not sustainable if you want to stay healthy.
What is a calorie?
A calorie is defined as a unit of energy. It is equivalent to 4.184 absolute joules. This is physics, and not a judgment of where that energy goes – which would be a biochemistry matter. Studies also show that calories from different foods are not absorbed the same way.
However, what most people want to know is how a calorie will affect their bodies – if at all. Do they affect our health outside of weight loss? How does our body process and metabolize them? This has obviously been a massive debate that’s been happening for years among experts. However, if you really think about how your diet has changed over the past, I’m sure there is no question that you felt better when you were eating healthy, non-processed foods. Calories come in the different forms but are not limited to:
- Fat: Even when all of your fats are burned, they release 9 calories per gram – some of these are healthier than others. For instance, trans fats clog arteries, and as a result, can lead to a person having a heart attack. However, omega-3 fats can save your life, as they are heart-healthy.
- Protein: We all know you have to put energy into something to get energy out – this includes foods. Protein has a high thermic effect on food and, when it is consumed, it needs twice as much energy to metabolize, when compared to carbohydrates. Protein also reduces hunger more than carbohydrates.
- Sugar: Lets first make something very clear: sugar is not one chemical, its two- glucose and fructose. Every cell in the body needs glucose. For this reason, it is sometimes known as “the energy of life”. Fructose is extremely different in comparison, and our bodies don’t need it at all. In fact, they are better off without it, as it puts too much of a burden on the liver – as that is primarily location where sugar is metabolized.
Look beyond catchy names
Just because a company tries to market their product to make it seem as if it is healthy –by using a name that gives it that impression – doesn’t mean that it is. Examples of this are foods such as Yoplait’s “Original 99% Fat-Free Lemon Burst Yogurt,” which contains 30g of sugar. Even Jamba Juice’s smoothie, “Banana Berry,” has 82g of sugar in it. Don’t be fooled just because it has fruits in its name. So again, we can see that just because something is fat-free, doesn’t mean it is beneficial for our bodies. Hopefully, we have all put the low-fat craziness behind us by now anyway.
Look for fiber
The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25-35 grams. Fiber reduces calorie absorption. As a consequence of this, a 100 calorie, high-fiber food will reduce a person’s appetite more in comparison than a 100-calorie low-fiber food. There are two types of fiber, both of which are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found mostly in vegetables and fruits, and it helps lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber is mainly found in whole grains, and can help prevent digestive disorders and cancer, as it is known to keep the colon clean.
Be aware of sugar
If you decide to eat a snack that contains lots of sugar in it, then be prepared for the roller coaster ride of having a sugar high and a sugar crash – which has horrific consequences on energy levels. This will make you crave even more sugary and high carbohydrate foods. Indulging in these will lead to one thing and one thing only: an unhealthy you.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends our sugar intake to be 10% or less of the calories we consume in a day. However, I would recommend eating a lot less than that and completely cutting it out of your diet (apart from what is in fruits).
The body digests fruit easily
So, why fruit? Well, they contain minerals, vitamins and fiber. Your body is prepared for, and able to digest them – unlike the processed trash we see with ridiculous amounts of sugar added, just so they taste “nice.” They really don’t taste nice at all, and by the way; it’s just our taste buds and brain being manipulated.
If you choose not to stay away from these types of products you are, as a result, welcoming a lot of diseases into your life. One of which is diabetes. We are now aware, from studies conducted, that wherever sugar availability rose, diabetes did also. And vice versa – when sugar availability fell, so did diabetes. It is predicted that by the year 2050, 1/3 of Americans will have diabetes.
Unfortunately, the food industry has allowed the majority of our food suppliers to add sugar. They do this for one reason only: and that’s to sell products so they can make money. Lets be clear, they have ZERO interest in your health and well-being. In fact, 80% of the 600,000 food items in America have added sugar. That is a huge amount.
All calories aren’t created equal
After having read this article, you are now aware that not all calories are created equal, and our bodies don’t metabolize them in the same way. This goes for fat, carbohydrates, protein, sugar and fiber.
The overall message, however, is this: eat real food. This means trying your best to avoid processed foods and making smart decisions when it comes to what you are consuming. Perhaps, choose a banana over a Mars Bar, which has 37grams of sugars with no fiber – or anything for that matter that would be of use to your body in any way whatsoever.
If you would like to learn more, I definitely encourage you to watch the documentary film called “Fed Up.” Here is the link to the trailer of it. Personally, I found it extremely enlightening, and it gave me, even more motivation to stay on my healthy lifestyle journey.
Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on whether a calorie is a calorie, and how consuming whichever foods you have in the past, or currently do, has affected your life.