Monday, July 9, 2012

Calories – Are Not All Equal

A simple formula for calculating weight change is calories in (consumed) minus calories out (energy expenditure) equals a weight gain or loss.       Is it that simple?    Are all calories equal?

When you are just beginning your commitment to fitness, I think this simple concept gives you a great start.  However, as you evolve and advance in your journey to fitness, you need to take your understanding to the next level.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, nutrition is divided into 3 major categories:  protein, carbs and fats.    However, these are not all handled the same by the body.  The body must use energy to digest, absorb and metabolize our foods.  More energy is required to process protein than carbs, and more energy is required to process carbs than fat.  So given the exact same calorie total for a day, a high-protein diet adds fewer calories than a high-carb diet.  And a high fat diet adds the most of those daily calories.  Meaning a 1,800-calorie diet and how much it really adds to the body will depend on which percent of the protein, carb, fats it consists of.

Another erroneous implication of the simple equation is that the fewer calories you consume, the fewer calories your body burns.  Your body's metabolism slows to conserve the reduced number of calories you are eating.  This simply means it is increasing the value of each calorie.

Another factor in the calorie equation is timing and frequency of meals.  We have covered these in previous blog postings.

Bottom line……… a calorie is not JUST a calorie……  To fine-tune your fitness strategy, examine what amounts of each protein, carbs, fat you are consuming and when……..    Simple adjustments and tweaks in your eating plans can make big differences.

Stay tuned………….

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