There are many ridiculous myths in nutrition. The “calorie myth” is one of the most ubiquitous … and most harmful. It is the idea that calories are the most important part of the diet, and that it doesn’t matter what food sources those calories come from. “A calorie is a calorie is a calorie,” they say … and it doesn’t matter if you eat 100 calories in caramel or broccoli, it will have the same effect on body weight. It is true that all “calories” have the same amount of energy. On the subject of diet, a calorie contains 4184 Joules of energy. In that sense, a calorie is a calorie. But when these calories enter the body, things are not so simple. The human body is a highly complex biochemical system with elaborate processes that regulate the energy balance.
Different foods pass through different biochemical pathways, some of which are inefficient and cause energy (calories) to be lost as heat. Even more important is the fact that different foods and macronutrients have an important effect on the hormones and brain centers that control hunger and eating behavior. The foods we eat can have a huge impact on the biological processes that tell us when, what and how much we eat. Here are 6 proven examples of – why is a calorie NOT a calorie? -.
1. Fructose Against Glucose:
The two main simple sugars in the diet are glucose and fructose. These two seem almost identical. They have the same chemical formula and weigh exactly the same. But for the body, the two are completely different. Glucose can be metabolized by all body tissues, but fructose can only be metabolized by the liver in any significant amount. Here are some examples of – why glucose calories are NOT the same as fructose calories? :
- Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone.” It goes up when we’re hungry and goes down after we’ve eaten. A study shows that fructose leads to higher levels of ghrelin (more hunger) than glucose.
- Fructose does not stimulate satiety centers in the brain in the same way as glucose, which reduces satiety.
- A high consumption of fructose can cause insulin resistance, increased abdominal fat, increased triglycerides, and blood sugar, small and dense particles of LBD (low density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol compared to it. number of calories in glucose
The same number of calories generate very different effects on hunger, hormones and metabolic health. Because a calorie is not a calorie. Keep in mind that this applies only to the added sugar fructose, not the fruit’s fructose. Fruits also have fiber, water and an important resistance to chewing, which mitigate the negative effects of fructose.
Summary: Although fructose and glucose have the same chemical formula, fructose has much more negative effects on hormones, appetite and metabolic health.
2. The Thermal Effect of Food.
Different foods go through different metabolic pathways. Some of these routes are more “efficient” than others. The more “efficient” a metabolic pathway is, the more energy is used for work and the less it dissipates as heat. Metabolic pathways for protein are less efficient than metabolic pathways for carbohydrates and fats. Protein contains 4 calories per gram, but a large part of the calories in protein is lost as heat when it is metabolized by the body. The thermal effect of food is a measure to know how much is the increase in energy expenditure of different foods, due to the energy needed to digest, absorb and metabolize nutrients.
This is the thermal effect of the different macronutrients:
- Fat: 2-3%
- Carbohydrates: 6-8%.
- Protein: 25-30%.
The accuracy of the numbers varies depending on food sources, but it is clear that protein requires much more energy to metabolize than fat and carbohydrates. If we go with a thermal effect of 25% for protein and 2% for fat, this means that 100 calories of the protein would end up as a result of 75 calories, while 100 calories of fat would end up as a result of 98 calories.
“Studies show that protein-rich diets increase metabolism from 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to diets with lower protein content”.
Simply put, high protein diets have a “metabolic advantage.” There is also a study that compared two sandwich foods that had the same number of calories and macronutrients. However, one sandwich was made with whole grain ingredients and cheddar cheese, while the other one was made with refined foods and processed cheese. Those who ate the sandwich with whole-grain ingredients burned twice the calories they ate from the food.
Summary: Protein calories get less fat than carbohydrate and fat calories, because protein takes more energy to metabolize. Whole foods also require more energy to digest than processed foods.
3. Protein Increases Satiety and Makes You Eat Fewer Calories:
The history of protein does not end with the increase in metabolism. It also leads to a significantly reduced appetite, which leads to eating fewer calories automatically. Studies show that protein is the most satisfactory macronutrient, and by far. If people increase their protein intake, they begin to lose weight without counting calories or without controlling portions. Protein puts fat loss on autopilot. In one study, those who increased their protein intake to 30% of calories automatically started eating 441 fewer calories per day and lost 4.9 kg (11 pounds) in 12 weeks. If you don’t want to make a “dietary regimen,” simply tilt the metabolic scales in your favor, so adding more protein to the regular diet may be the simplest (and most delicious) way to cause “automatic” weight loss. It is very clear that when it comes to the regulation of metabolism and appetite, a calorie of protein is not the same as a calorie of carbohydrates or a calorie of fat.
Summary: Increased protein can lead to a drastic decrease in appetite and cause automatic weight loss without the need to count calories or portion control.
4. The Satiety Index:
Different foods have different effects on satiety. It is also much easier to overtake some foods than others. For example, it can be quite easy to eat 500 calories (or more) of ice cream, than to eat 500 calories of eggs or broccoli. This is a key example of how the food choices you choose can have a huge impact on the total calories you end up consuming. There are many factors that determine the satiety value in different foods, which is measured on a scale called the satiety index. The satiety index is a measure of the ability in foods to reduce hunger, increase feelings of satiety and reduce energy intake for a while. If you eat foods that are low in the satiety index, then you will be more hungry and end up eating more. On the other hand, if you choose foods that are high in the satiety index, you will end up eating less and thus losing weight. Some examples of foods with a high satiety index are boiled potatoes, beef, eggs, beans and fruits, while foods that are low in the satiety index include donuts and cake. Clearly … whether or not you choose high-satiety foods to satisfy hunger after all will have a significant difference in the long-term energy balance. Because a calorie of a boiled potato is not the same as a calorie of a donut.
Summary: Different foods have different effects on satiety and the amount of calories they end up consuming in subsequent meals. This is measured on a scale called the Satiety Index.
5. Low Carb Diets Lead to Automatic Calorie Restriction:
Since 2002, more than 20 randomized controlled trials have compared low carb and low fat diets. Studies consistently show that low carb diets lead to more weight loss, often 2-3 times more. One of the main reasons for this is that low carb diets lead to a drastically reduced appetite. People start eating less calories unconsciously. But even when comparing calories between groups, low-carb groups often lose more weight, although they don’t always make a big statistical difference. The biggest reason for this is probably that low carb diets also cause significant water losses. Excess turgidity tends to disappear in the first week or two. Another reason is that low carb diets tend to include more protein than low fat diets. Protein consumes energy to metabolize and the body spends energy converting protein into glucose.
Summary: Low carb diets consistently lead to more weight loss than low fat diets, even when calories are compared between groups.
6. The Glycemic Index:
There are many controversies in nutrition and experts disagree on many things. But one of the few things that almost everyone agrees is that processed carbohydrates are bad. This includes added sugars such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, as well as refined grain products such as white bread. Processed carbohydrates tend to be low in fiber as well as digest and absorb quickly, resulting in immediate spikes in blood sugar. They have a high glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly food raises blood sugar. When we eat a food that generates immediate high peaks of blood sugar, a few hours later it tends to generate low peaks, so when the blood sugar is at low levels, we again have anxiety for another carbohydrate-rich snack giving as result another high peak again, this situation is also known as “The sugar roller coaster”. In one study, smoothies that were identical in all aspects were served except that one had high IG carbohydrates while the other had low IG carbohydrates, the high IG shake caused hunger and greater cravings compared to the IG shake low. Another study found that adolescents ate 81% more calories during a meal with high GI compared to a meal with low GI. So … the immediate causes that carbohydrate calories influence the body can have an effect on overeating and gaining weight.
If you are on a high carbohydrate diet, it is crucial to choose all sources of carbohydrates that contain fiber without being processed. Fiber can reduce the rate at which glucose enters your system. Studies consistently show that people who eat foods with higher glycemic indices are at greater risk of becoming obese and diabetic. Because not all carbohydrate calories are synthesized in the same way in the body.
Summary: Studies show that processed and refined carbohydrates lead to faster and larger spikes in blood sugar, which create cravings and excessive consumption of food.
Different sources of calories can have very different effects on hunger, hormones, energy expenditure and brain regions that control food intake. Although calories are important, counting them or even being aware of them is not necessary at all to lose weight. In many cases, simple changes in food selection can lead to the same (or better) results as calorie restriction.