Counting calories seems somewhat old hat these days, no? There was a time when I knew the calorie count of all sorts of foods and would be totting them up in my head as the day progressed – BORING!
Many people look only at the calorific value of a food when deciding if it is ok for them to have when trying to lose weight. However, the idea that 500 calories worth of chocolate cake will have the same impact on your body and therefore weight as 500 calories worth of, say, almonds, is an extremely limited and frankly naive approach to health and weight-loss. Let me explain….and I’ll try and be brief this time. 😉
It’s all about the balance and the quality of the main constituents of the food – fibre, fat, protein and carbohydrate.
Almonds = high fibre, healthy fats, protein & complex carbohydrates.
Chocolate cake = high refined carbohydrates (sugar & white flour) and either shortening, vegetable oil or butter (non of which are considered healthy fats).
So, eating 500 calories of almonds will keep your blood sugar levels stable, keeping you feeling full for longer thanks to the complex carbs and high level of fibre; the healthy fats have many uses in the body so will be utilised for cellular repair and feeding the brain etc; the protein will be used for tissue repair and growth; the fibre also moves fat through our system quickly so less is absorbed. This leaves very little energy (calories) to be stored as fat.
Chocolate cake – sugars and unhealthy fats, very low fibre and virtually no protein. This results in a high blood sugar surge and a rapid emptying of your stomach leaving you quickly craving another carb-hit; the fats are easily absorbed as there is no fibre to bind with it and the high sugar content will be rapidly converted to body fat if not burnt off straight away (I’m talking major exercise). So, the majority of the energy (calories) in the cake will be stored as fat.
I hope this makes it clear: not all calories are equal. Good quality food will be used by the body. Bad quality food will be readily stored by the body as fat. Simple really! 🙂