Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Are all calories created equal?

Tuesday Tip: Are all calories created equal? 🤔

You may hear that calories from certain foods are ‘better’ for weight loss than others. But is this really the case?

Food is made up of macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats and the energy is contained in the chemical bonds of their molecules. When the bonds are broken, energy is released – measured in calories. We commonly call them calories but they’re actually kilogram calories (kcals- the amount of energy required to heat 1kg water up by 1 degree).

So are all calories equal? Well yes, in theory they are. In absolute terms a calorie is a calorie; it’s a unit of measurement, just like a kg of soil is the same as a kg of feathers.

In reality it’s more complex. All foods contain calories but those foods may be metabolised (digested and absorbed) in different ways e.g. the metabolic pathway for protein is less efficient than carbs and fat. Protein contains 4 calories (kcal) per gram but a large portion of the protein calories are lost as heat when it is metabolized (up to 30%).

Different foods also have different effects on the gut-brain axis meaning differing results on appetite and satiety. The desire to eat (appetite) can change depending on the composition of a meal/food. Protein-rich foods reduce appetite more effectively which may reduce overall intake of food.

Some foods affect satiety (feelings of fullness) more than others. This in turn has an impact on how many calories are consumed. Foods high in protein and fat make you feel fuller for example.

Large amounts of refined carbohydrates can lead to greater spikes in blood sugar which can lead to cravings and increased food intake and reduced feelings of fullness. So you’re likely to overeat.

So whilst all calories are the same, the foods containing calories are very different and this can have an impact when trying to lose weight. This doesn’t mean certain foods are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for weight loss – they just may affect your ability to stick to a calorie deficit in different ways so it’s worth being aware of how they impact you.

Happy Tuesday 🤗xx

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