Are All Calories Created Equal

The answer is unfortunately, no.  I frequently get asked the question: “Is weight loss just simply calories in vs. calories out?” or “What is more important, what you eat or how much you eat?” To answer the first question, weight loss is not only calories in vs. calories out. What you eat and how you “spend” those calories will make a big difference on how your body looks, feels and reacts. Furthermore, you can really make or break your health status depending on what foods you are eating. To answer the second question, both are equally as important.

New and exciting research has emerged showing us that not all calories are created equal and our way of counting calories needs to change. The nutrition fact label was created based on the Atwater system that says a gram of carbohydrates and a gram of protein both equal 4 calories; a gram of fat equals 9 calories. This means a food containing 8 g of fat, 3 g of protein and 7 g of carbohydrate should in theory contain 112 calories to the person that consumes it. However, for some foods this is not always the case. Thus being the reason researchers are calling for an overhaul on the outdated Atwater system.

Research has actually found that when we consume foods in their raw/unprocessed state we actually absorb fewer calories than what the nutrition fact label says.  The flip side to that is our bodies can absorb more calories, fat, protein and carbs from processed foods because the processing breaks down the cell walls in the plant. For example, we may take in more calories from:

  • peanut butter/almond butter instead of the whole nut
  • applesauce or apple juice instead of whole apples
  • whole wheat bread or pasta instead of  whole wheat berries
  • chocolate bars instead of cocoa nibs
  • quinoa flour instead of quinoa
  • soymilk instead of soybeans

So what is the take home message here? If you are trying to get a leg up on losing a few extra pounds, looking and feeling better, stay out of the middle aisles at the grocery store! You’ve heard it before and now you know why. Not only are processed foods ruining your health, they may be contributing to your waistline! But what does processed actually mean? The bottom line is if it didn’t come straight from the ground or the original source, it’s processed to some extent. Now that doesn’t mean you need to start consuming raw egg smoothies like Rocky Balboa; cooking does have a functional purpose. Rather, think of how many hands have been on your food before it’s going to be put in your mouth. Not a pretty thought, right?

To take advantage of this new science, try my Overnight Oats recipe for breakfast tomorrow in place of your regular boxed cereal.

Need help losing those last few pounds or getting started on a healthy lifestyle change? Join us starting December 2nd to begin your path to losing the weight healthfully and safely with Be the Boss of Your Weight Loss Virtual Edition! This is our best-selling weight loss program gone virtual. Participants receive six 60-90 minute classes that can be done from anywhere, group support, individual counseling and instant access to educational materials and meal plans!

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