A calorie is not a calorie

A calorie from one type of food is NOT equal to a calorie of another! That undermines everything there is to know about nutrition! A protein calorie is different to a carbohydrate calorie which is also different to a fat calorie. Specifically, the thermal effect of food (TEF) is different for each one. Protein uses the most amount of energy to digest (around 20-30% of its calories). Carbohydrates on the other hand, uses only 5-10% of its calories, with fats even lower at 0-3%.  Furthermore, processed food calories are NOT the same as natural food calories. The body processes them VERY differently.

There may have been a time you ate more calories than you thought you should… but got leaner. Or you ate fewer calories than you thought you should… and gained weight. (Or you didn’t lose that last stubborn 5 kgs.). Or you started eating breakfast instead of skipping it… and dropped a couple of cms off your waistline. According to the simplistic “all calories are the same” view or the “food is fuel” view, none of this should be possible. Yet it happens all the time.

Everyone has a “set point” weight, and that is determined by genetics and hormones. It’s the QUALITY of the calories we eat, and the QUALITY of exercise we do that allows us to change our hormones. In order for us to do that, in order for us to lower our set point weight, we have to understand what determines the quality of a calorie; so we can eat the highest quality calories possible.

I was listening to a podcast last night that explained this perfectly:
“Four main areas that determine quality calories:
1. Satiety – how quickly calories fill us up and how long they keep us full.
2. Aggression. – how likely calories are to be stored as fat.
3. Nutrients – things like protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids
4. Efficiency – how many of the calories we eat can be stored as body fat.
The more satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious, and inefficient a calorie is, the higher its quality. These calories trigger body fat burning hormones when we eat them. They also clear our metabolic clog and prevent us from overeating. They’re a bit like metabolic Drano”.

Suggested reading: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/digesting-whole-vs-processed-foods