Are all Calories Created Equal?

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, right? Not really. What you eat is just as important as how much you eat. A calorie is a unit of energy, scientifically defined as how much heat is required to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. So you’d think that as long as you create a calorie deficit (eat less and burn more) of 3,500 calories, then you will lose one pound. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

When you lose a pound of fat you also lose muscle mass and water. The scale might show as much as five pounds of weight loss and you’ve only lost one pound of fat. The rest is mostly water. As soon as you resume your normal eating the water weight comes right back on. If you’ve been restricting calories for a long period of time, then a portion of the weight loss will also include muscle loss. Unfortunately, lost muscle is more difficult to replace. Remember, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism.

One problem with severely cutting back on calories is when the diet is over and you return to your normal eating, the lost muscle means you’re burning fewer calories than before you went on the diet. It’s easier to gain the weight back.

FOOD CALORIES

The calories in brownie might equal those in a 3 oz piece of salmon and a helping of veggies, so why not choose the brownie? The answer is simple. The brownie has no redeeming nutritional value and will be converted to glucose quite quickly. The rush of glucose into your blood stream will trigger insulin production. The insulin converts the glucose to energy for your body and what’s not immediately needed is stored as fat. What’s worse is your blood sugar drops quickly and you get hungry. Then you crave more sugar and the cycle continues.

The fish and veggies have vitamins, fiber and antioxidants your body needs. When you combine protein (fish) with carbs (veggies), the protein sustains your blood sugar for longer, preventing the crash. Less insulin is produced and less glucose is converted and stored as fat. As a bonus you won’t be hungry as fast.

For your weight loss program to be successful you have to choose the right kinds of food, in the appropriate amounts, and create a calorie deficit by burning off those calories, rather than calorie restriction. Remember – No Starvation, No Deprivation.

 

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