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Monday, 03 August 2015 12:27

All Calories are NOT Created Equal!

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Everyone has heard that to lose weight it all amounts to “Calories in, calories out.” This means quite simply according to the physics law of thermodynamics that to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. This certainly has its place in weight loss, you really do have to eat less volume of food to lose weight, but this notion has been highly debated and  needs some elaboration. The quality of the food you eat also matters - a lot. The quality of calories you eat can impact weight management efforts.

This means all calories are not created equal. Cynthia Hass from Health magazine says it best,  “Saying all calories are created equal is similar to saying a diamond cubic zirconia is the same as a sparkling diamond.”

The studies she cites actually explain how calories are not created equal. One study from the University of Florida found that people who consume more antioxidants, usually from more fruits and vegetables in the diet,  maintain lower BMIs, lower hip to waist measurements, and lower body-fat percentages than those who do not get these nutrients. Both groups involved in this study consumed approximately the same number of daily calories. This strongly suggests that these special nutrients play an important role in metabolism.

Another interesting study from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem in North Carolina found that the quality of fat consumed in the diet can also make an impact on weight. In this study  the same amount of calories and fat were consumed, but the quality of fats were different and made quite a difference. Monkeys fed foods high in trans fat gained four times more weight and had 30% more belly fat compared to animals who consumed meals made from natural plant-based fat. This gives us some information that eating 500 calories worth of processed food (where most trans fats are found) does not have the same impact on the body as eating a 500-calorie meal composed of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and heart healthy fat.

It should become apparent by now that what matters is the quality of the food you eat. But there’s one more ‘food’ which has been shown to be one of the worst in terms of promoting gaining weight and causing disease, and that is high fructose corn syrup.   Excessive amounts of plain white sugar is bad enough but high fructose corn syrup causes entirely different metabolic effects compared to regular white sugar. The body metabolizes fructose much differently from glucose. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, where excess fructose is quickly converted into fat. This explains much of the weight gain and abdominal obesity (belly fat) you see in the US. This fructose is the primary cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver and elevates uric acid. This in turn raises  blood pressure, stresses the kidneys, and leads to chronic, low-level inflammation - the core of most chronic diseases. It’s not just the excess weight it’s also about the health problems it initiates, especially with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

All that being said just remember, not all calories are created equal. Pick whole unprocessed foods as much as you can whether you are dieting to lose weight or just want better health!

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