Calories! The truth behind the numbers!

The Truth About Calories

WHAT ARE CALORIES:, The more calories we take in, the more flab we add, and if we cut back on them, then the flab starts to recede too, right? Well at face value calories seem to be the factor by which all foods should be judged. But if that were true, 500 calories of carrots would equal 500 calories of double stuff Oreos.

Do CALORIES FUEL OUR BODIES?: ACTUALLY, they don’t.  A calorie is a simple unit of measurement for heat. It was used to explain the theory of heat conservation and steam engines.  Calories are now defined by carbohydrates, protein and fat content.  1 gm of fat has 9 calories, 1 gm of protein has 4 calories and 1 gm of carbohydrates has 4 calories and 1 gm of sugar has 4 calories. 1 gm of alcohol has 7 calories.  Every muscle cell that you gain is like a little factory that constantly burns calories for you, even while you sleep, and revs up when you exercise.

What you should do: Track your carbs, fat and protein, not just your calories.

ARE ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL? NOT EXACTLY. Our fuel comes from the above mentioned three sources: carbs, fat and protein.  They are each handled differently in the body. “Calories in =calories out” theory is misleading, as each have different effects on our bodies.  For example: for every 100 carb calories you consume, it takes your body 5-10 of those for digestion. With fat, this is a little less. So, the calorie burning champ is protein.  For every 100 protein calories you consume, your body needs 20-30 of those for digestion! Carbs and fat give up their calories quick and easy. They are made to supply quick energy and they yield more usual energy than protein. There are no “fat-burning” foods. You might’ve heard that certain foods (e.g. celery and grapefruit) increase metabolic rate, but it’s just a myth.[1} While some foods and drinks such as red peppers and green tea have been studied for their potential metabolic rate increasing properties, there is no conclusive evidence that whatever influence they have on metabolism is significant enough to result in weight loss.[2] However, it has been proven that all foods do have what is called the thermic effect. Foods with protein have a 30% thermic effect, and are the most thermal of all foods.

What you should do: If you want to lose weight, make protein a priority at EVERY meal A good guide is a palm size amount of protein at EVERY meal.

A CALORIE INGESTED IS A CALORIE DIGESTED?: Back to the “calorie in = calorie out” theory. Just because the food is swallowed doesn’t mean it will be digested.  it passes thru your stomach and then reaches your small intestine, which sucks up all the nutrients it can get.  But 5-10% of calories pass through unabsorbed. fat digestion is relatively efficient as fat easily enters your intestine walls.  as for protein, animal sources are more digestible than plant sources so a top sirloin’s protein will be better absorbed than tofu.  Different carbs are processed at different rates too. Glucose and starch are rapidly absorbed, while fiber lingers in the digestive tract.. in fact, the insoluble fiber in some complex carbs, like veggies and whole grains, tends to BLOCK the absorption other calories!  So with a very high fiber diet, say of 60 grams per day you might lose as much as 20% of the calories you consume! So, a useful measure of calories is difficult. You could find a piece of candy and a piece of broccoli have the same number of calories. But in action, the broccoli’s fiber ensures that the veggie contribute less energy. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that a high fiber diet leaves roughly twice as many calories undigested as a lower fiber diet does. And fewer calories means less flab!!!

What you should do: Aim to consume at least 35-40 grams of fiber every day

DOES EXERCISE BURN MOST OF OUR CALORIES?: NOT EVEN! Even the most fanatical fitness nuts burn no more than 30% of their daily calories at the gym.  most of your calories burn at a constant simmer, fueling the automated processes that keep you alive. That is your basal metabolism.  If you want to burn fuel, hit the gas in your every day activities.  60-70% of our total calorie expenditure goes to normal bodily functions. This includes brushing your teeth, transporting oxygen, washing your hair, etc.  For men, these processes require about 11 calories per pound of body weight a day, so a 200 pound man will incinerate 2,200 calories a day – even if he is sedentary.  Now, this does not mean you should be a couch potato! Increasing your basal metabolism requires lean muscle mass!  In the simplest terms, your metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories. Very few people have a fast metabolism. Surprisingly, overweight individuals have relatively fast metabolism because they weigh more, but if their weight is staying constant then their metabolism is not fast enough to offset their caloric intake.[3] The bottom line is that increasing your metabolism will enable you to level your diet and weight.The more you move, the more you burn! A conscious effort to spend more time on your feet and moving can increase your calorie burn exponentially! Different activities burn different quantities of calories, but the important thing is to raise your heart rate and sustain the activity for approximately thirty minutes. Muscle burns more calories than fat does (73 more calories per kilogram per day, to be exact)[3] so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. This is the only way to increase RMR, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn daily.[4]

RMR is often used interchangeably with basal metabolic rate (BMR). Although they are slightly different, estimating either is sufficient for the purpose of losing weight. What these equations will show you is, that if you weigh more, your RMR will be higher! There are many places on line that can calculate this for you ://

Your RMR will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your body at rest.

What you should do: Take frequent breaks from your desk and couch and move your body and burn bonus calories! do not exceed your maintenance intake or have a caloric intake lower than your calculated RMR.Count calories by recording what you eat and looking up how many calories each food item contains (either on the food packaging or in tables provided in books or online) and choose food with GOOD calories!

DO LOW CALORIE FOODS HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?: NOT ALWAYS. Processed low calorie foods can be week allies in the weight loss war.  take sugar free foods.  Omitting sugar is perhaps the easiest way to cut calories, but food manufacturers  generally replace those sugars with calorie free sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame. Artificial sweeteners can backfire.  A study at the University of Texas found that consuming as few as three diet sodas a week increases a personals risk of obesity by more than 40%! Another study at Purdue showed that rats that ate artificially sweetened yogurt took in more calories at subsequent meals, resulting in more flab.  the theory is that the promise of sugar without the calorie payoff may actually lead to overeating. Too many people are counting calories instead of focusing on the CONTENT of the food.  What you should do: Avoid artificial sweeteners and load up your plate with bonafide low calorie saviors: FRUITS AND VEGGIES!

HYDRATE!!  As with food, depriving your body of water can encourage it to “hoard” rather than “burn”. When you drink ice cold water, your body burns calories warming it to body temperature. More than ninety percent of the chemical reactions in your body occur in water, so make sure you drink an appropriate amount of water!


2.↑ Slow Metabolism: Is It to Blame for Weight Gain?

3 ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7

4.↑ Boost Your Metabolism


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  1. Pingback: Emotional Eating! | Fitnessfacts100's Blog

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