It’s one of the biggest questions of our time: are all calories created equal?
We bust the myths and reveal the facts about the best types to target for slimming success
Calorie counting is the best way to lose weight
It IS true that all calories have the same amount of energy. And you won’t have success slimming if you’re eating your bodyweight in #avotoast instead of Twix bars.
But, while portion-control is important as part of a weight-loss plan, it’s how your body metabolises these calories that’s the real decider.
This is because different calorie sources can affect the body in different ways1 – such as how many calories you store as fat and how much energy you have.
Some calories make you hungrier than others
Calories from refined carbohydrates – such as white bread, sugar, cereals and white pasta – are extremely low in fibre. Fibre isn’t absorbed by the body, but helps make us feel full. Hence foods that don’t contain a high amount are likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a “sugar crash”, which leaves us feeling hungrier and more likely to binge later on2.
On the other hand, natural carbohydrates – like wholegrains and vegetables – may contain the same number of calories, but their high fibre content means you’re less likely to experience those dreaded hunger pangs afterwards that can sabotage your weight-loss plans.
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Fat is “bad” because it’s high in calories
Up until recently, we’ve tended to follow a low-fat diet when slimming, as fat contains twice the number of calories as the same quantity of protein or carbs.
But despite the high calorie content, fat is a crucial part of any weight-loss plan – not only does it supply energy, it helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals, as well as containing essential fatty acids.
Just try to stick to “good” fats, such as olive oil, avocados and nuts, which can help lower cholesterol levels and are packed with those all-important nutrients.3
On the other hand, trans fats commonly found in processed and fast foods can raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels and cause inflammation, leading to weight gain and heart disease.
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Certain calories cause your body to store more fat
As we’ve noted, foods such as refined carbs can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This not only leaves you feeling hungry, but also raises insulin levels in the body, a hormone which triggers fat storage – another reason why you should avoid them and opt for natural carbs instead4.
On the other hand, protein-rich calorie sources such as beans and chickpeas help the body build and maintain muscle – not least when combined with regular exercise, such as weight training. This is crucial for weight loss, as the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn over time.
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Time to throw those calculators away and get more savvy about where those calories have come from – not just how many calories you’ve eaten.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.