Tuesday Tip: Is a calorie just a calorie? 🍫
This is a very common argument when talking about calories, calorie deficits and which foods you use to meet your daily calorie goal. Often people will say ‘ah yes but a calorie isn’t just a calorie, some calories are better than others’. People will claim 100 calories of nuts isn’t the same as 100 calories of chocolate for example…
So is that true? Are some calories different?
Well technically – no – a calorie really is just a calorie. A calorie is simply a unit of measurement – it measures energy. So yes, 100 calories of nuts are exactly the same as 100 calories of chocolate in terms of the energy they provide.
However, food is not just food and the composition of those calories is where differences can arise. Different foods do have different metabolic effects. Some foods are easier and quicker to digest, some require more energy to digest (e.g this is the thermic effect of food – but don’t get too excited – the difference is pretty small so unlikely to make a massive difference to calories burned etc).
Different foods also have different effects on satiety (how full they make you feel). The nuts for example are more likely to leave you feeling fuller as they’re higher in fat and protein than the chocolate. Foods that take longer to eat will also affect fullness levels.
Also don’t forget that foods have different emotional and psychological effects too. Humans are very much driven by emotions and whilst nuts may theoretically leave you fuller there will be times when no amount of nuts will stop you wanting that chocolate bar. In those cases you’re far better off going for the chocolate bar!
Ultimately it’s about balancing all of these things in a way that lets you stick to your calorie goals. So sometimes that will mean going for the more filling option of nuts and sometimes it will mean going for the chocolate you actually want, but being aware that you may feel more hungry later and being prepared for that.
So yes, a calorie is in fact just a calorie, but food is not just food!
Happy Tuesday 🤗