Are all calories the same

Are all calories the same?

Our body needs energy to function, and that energy is provided by the intake of food, both drunk and eaten. We speak of the term “calorie” very often and many times we do not know its definition:

A calorie is the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of a gram of pure water by 1 ° C (from 14.5 ° C to 15.5 ° C), at the normal pressure of one atmosphere.

Not all calories are the same and have the same effects on us

Although we strive to continue counting calories to lose weight or not gain weight, we must not forget that not all calories are the same or make us fat the same. The differences between some foods and others and between some people and others, are what make that not all foods with similar calories gain the same weight and that not all people gain the same weight while eating the same food.

There are several reasons that justify these differences:

The energy you need to digest each food

Since the food enters the mouth, our body is expending energy to digest it, influencing aspects such as temperature, the colder it is, the greater energy expenditure I must do to heat it.

The simple fact of chewing more or less a food or producing gastric juices requires energy expenditure. The simple fact of taking the food drunk instead of chewed (texture) makes the calories more easily obtained.

Regarding the food groups, it costs more to digest proteins than carbohydrates or fats, but within the same food group, not all are digested the same. Let’s see, for example, the difference between two foods that provide us with sugars, that is, carbohydrates.

Half a liter of a sugary soft drink gives you about 250 kcals, the same as 100 grams of whole wheat bread, however, the body does not assimilate the sugar it gets from bread as easily as it does from soft drink. The sugar in soft drinks requires almost no digestion to be converted into energy (fast-absorbing carbohydrates) while that of bread is obtained after a slower and more laborious digestion process (slow-absorbing carbohydrates), which makes end we “fatten” less.

The more processed a food is, the less we “spend” on digesting it and therefore “fattening” us more.

The satiety that each food produces

It is evident that the hungrier you get, the more you eat and the less you chew. And the more you eat, the higher your intake and variety of calories, the more likely you are to accumulate fat.

That is why when it comes to losing weight it is important to choose foods that satisfy you more, rich in fiber and chew slowly, so that satiety appears earlier, since it is important when it comes to feeling “full”, that our stomach fills up, when this happens, the stomach send signals to the brain that warn us that we no longer need to eat.

Within the 3 food groups (macronutrients are the foods that mainly make up our diet, they are carbohydrates or carbohydrates, proteins and lipids), those that satisfy the most, are proteins since, as we have said before, it takes longer for the body to digest them. Different types of food have different effects on our body that affect our body composition and general performance (sports, intellectual).

Our body reacts differently with the different types of food that we give it, in a very general way, vegetables fill us more than other foods, providing us with few calories, carbohydrates give us the energy we need (here it is very important to distinguish between good and bad carbohydrates) and protein help us build our muscles.

For this it is important to eat slowly to allow time for the signals to reach the brain before having eaten twice as much as we needed and to eat foods that take up space and provide few calories due to having a large amount of water such as vegetables.

Each person’s response to each food

Even eating the same thing, not all people get the same weight. This is due, among many other factors, to the fact that each person digests, assimilates and responds differently to similar foods. Due to:

• Differences in gut bacteria or microbiota: Recent studies show that gut bacteria are different in people with and without obesity. There are experiments that make mice lose weight by transplanting the microbiota of lean mice. We have the ability to improve the quality of our intestinal bacterial population through a healthy diet rich in yogurt (probiotic foods), fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

• Differences in the hormonal response to leptin: Not all people lose their appetite so easily, due to a greater resistance to leptin (it is the satiety hormone). When leptin increases, we feel full and stop eating. However, not all people are equally sensitive to this hormone, many obese people are especially resistant to this hormone, so they need to eat more to feel like they no longer have an appetite.

Another hormone implicated in obesity is insulin. Many overweight people have a resistance to this hormone so they need to produce more insulin to regulate their sugar levels, ultimately producing a less effective metabolism in eliminating stored fat and favoring storage (this is a vicious circle that can be easily broken by increasing physical exercise)
A recent study shows how researchers found that while some participants experienced a rapid and prolonged rise in blood sugar and insulin when eating a cake rich in fat and carbohydrates, others responded to the same meal with an increase in circulating fat. The first response was due to a pattern associated with a greater risk of gaining weight and suffering from diabetes and the second with being more likely to suffer cardiovascular problems.

It shows how each person is unique in their response to food, which would explain why nutritional recommendations cannot be the same for everyone. There would therefore not be a healthy diet for the entire population.

Not all calories are the same

There are empty calories, such as those from alcohol that provide absolutely nothing and can even promote the appearance of a fatty liver, and there are foods that despite providing few calories are nutritionally very rich.

Our body is a very complex machine, made up of a lot of parts that have to fit together, and although the number of calories is important for the machine to work properly, the quality of those calories can make our body work efficiently or it ends up spoiling.

Our body and calories

Eating poorly, in terms of the ingestion of low-quality food and doing a little exercise, even if there is a decrease in calorie intake, will report general weight loss, but not a decrease in the body’s fat compartment.

How does our body react to food?

Processed foods:

Processed foods make us eat more than necessary, but the problems do not end here, this type of food, with many calories, a lot of sugar but very few nutrients, causes the dreaded spikes in blood sugar that end up causing hunger attacks.

Unprocessed foods:

With a diet rich in vegetables, grilled or roasted meats and fish, the opposite will happen to us as with processed foods, we can feel satisfied by consuming fewer calories and giving our body what it needs, all our meals should include certain amounts of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, so this is the healthiest way to lose weight.

Are the calories of each type of nutrient the same? Calories are NOT the same.

Let’s take the example of carbohydrates, it is not the same to eat carbohydrates from a banana than carbohydrates from sweets, although the total is the same calories in both cases. Although the amount of calories may be the same, their origin and effect on the body vary considerably from one food to another.

How many sweets do you have to eat to feel as full as with a single banana? I think it is not necessary to answer this question, but in addition to feeling more satiated with the banana, it is also providing you with other micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) that you will not find in candy. It is not about living counting calories, but about choosing the right foods, foods that fill us up without being caloric bombs.

At the same calories, we will not have the same nutrients, therefore, the effect of these calories, although they are equal in quantity, will not be the same in our body. The quality of calories makes a big difference and the energy you derive from added sugars or trans fats will never be the same as that from protein or fiber.

All our meals should include vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates (choose whole foods, rich in macro and micronutrients). Vegetables should be half the plate, and if you get hungry you can add more vegetables and protein.

The basic rules for choosing our calories:

• The perfect diet does not exist, it is only about eating in the healthiest way possible, allowing ourselves a license from time to time.

• Choose real food.

• Try to eat less processed food.

Carbohydrates (simple or complex, sugars or not) provide 4 Kcal per gram, as do proteins and fats 9 Kcal per gram. For its part, fiber offers only 2 Kcal per gram and although alcohol is not a nutrient, it provides 7 Kcal per gram when ingested.

Thus, of the total calories derived from fat, 2.5% are expended in its metabolism, while 7% of the calories that hydrates offer are consumed in its digestion and proteins, demand a metabolic expenditure of 27%. That is, of the total calories derived from protein, more than a quarter disappear in your metabolism and do not reach our body as energy.

If we look for the best calories to lose weight, it is those that proteins offer that will help us the most, since not only are they the nutrient that produces the most satiety, but at the same time, they have no possibility of being stored in the body, an option that they do have. carbohydrates and fats demanding a large caloric expenditure to digest.

Calories are not all that count

Looking at calories is the most common when losing weight, and much is due to the great marketing behind them. However, caloric intake, energy, calories or energy value is not all that counts.
If we want to lose weight we must look beyond calories, because relying only on this data can lead to errors that hinder our weight loss plan.

For this reason, it is important to look at the quality of what we eat beyond the amount of calories that each food or dish provides, since in addition to the energy intake, it counts how much they satisfy, whether or not they promote addictive behavior, if they are accompanied by good nutrients. , if they are diluted or not in a large volume, if it is difficult to digest them, among other factors.

1 orange = 1 Oreo cookie: the two alternatives provide 45 Kcal, but the first does it in 120 grams of food while the second in less than 10 grams. The volume already tells us about the greater satiety that the orange can produce, but also, in this we have vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants absent in the cookie in which sugar, fat and the additives typical of an ultra-processed predominate.

It is useless to choose hypocaloric products or foods, since not all calories are equal, but there are many other factors that we must consider when losing weight taking care of our health with what we eat.