"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Lisa's Blog

All calories are not created equal

Lisa Cutforth - Monday, June 17, 2013

Many of my clients have heard me arc up at "low calorie diets".  Here's why.

All calories are not created equal and a calorie does not give reference to the nutritional value of a food other than how much energy it "yields" in a laboratory, nor does it tell us how the body will use it. 

Just because two meals have the same amount of calories does not mean:

- They will fill you up equally

- They will satisfy you in the same way

- They will meet the same needs (nutrition, satiety or other)

- They are equally healthy

- They will be as effective at helping you lose or control your weight

- Or that they will be broken down, used or stored in the same way by the body.

The body deals with different foods differently, and an emphasis on nutrient dense (or high nutrient) (and probably "whole food") is more important than an emphasis on "low calorie", for health AND FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

A study done on two groups of people found that the people who ate more junk food, had lower nutrient levels in their blood despite eating more actual food and more calories than the other group.  So they had bigger appetites, ate more food and were less nourished than the group who ate healthier food (and were satisfied eating less).

Another study by Harvard confirmed that weight loss is not just about the amount of calories we consume but also about the type of food the calories come from:

"In a 2012 Harvard study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 21 over- weight and obese young adults tried three different test diets—a low-fat diet, a very low-carb/high-protein diet, and a low-glycemic index diet—for four weeks at a time.

Each diet consisted of the same number of calories but differed in their protein, fat, and carbohy- drate content. In the low-glycemic index diet, participants ate carbohydrates that are digested and broken down slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels (e.g. low-processed foods such as fiber-rich whole grains, nuts, or beans).

The result? Researchers found that the low-glycemic index diet actually speeds up metabolism and helps burn calories, making you lose weight faster, suggesting that all calories are not equal.

According to to an author of the study, David Ludwig, M.D., a professor in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, “from a metabolic perspective, all calories are not alike, [and] the quality of the calories going in affects the number of calories going out.”

In other words,"Low Calorie" on it's own is not where the "magic" is. "Low calorie diet" can be ambiguous and misleading.  Calorie restriction is an effective weight control method (and in fact can also increase longevity), when done in the context of good nutrition principles. Calorie restriction should not be done ignorantly or at the expense of good nutrition, or it can actually compromise health and sabotage weight loss.

Source: Healthy Solutions to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, http://www.health.harvard.edu/


Recent Posts


fruit and vegetable shortage recipe reasons to eat foods in season time management and healthy living how to avoid doing the right thing and getting the wrong results cheap fruit and vegetables, what's in season in autumn in australia obesity weight alzheimers drugfree alternatives is chocolate bad for me skipping meals skip meals maintain a healthy weight, underweight Cancer weight loss relationship with food mobile phones and brain cancer, Dr Teo health with 10 % effort have fun in the kitchen sugar and adhd how to say no what is a good breakfast how to love exercise reducing coffee indigestion ways to improve prostate health are grains healthy addicted to chocolate the power to choose healthy wine, healthy beer, healthy alcohol options support your body quick eating solutions anxiety life lessons low cholesterol soft drink and behaviour problems quizz do i have to drink milk; where do i get calcium from; non dairy calcium sources nutritionist hunger and stress wrong type of exercise, exercise and results muffins focus heart disease immune boosting tips nutritious cooking celebrate life fresh start blood pressure make stress work for you sensitivity to milk relax success and you salad Nina Simone Lactose intolerance gluten intolerance low calorie meal plan have more energy homocysteine food allergies nutritionist in brisbane immune system are frozen veggies any good organic vegetables Alan Pease happiness course Add new tag image how to be happy life fresh empty your mind Sensational health for busy people recipies energy 7 steps to detox high cholesterol life choices healthy cooking parties food sensitivities health which is better for you butter or margarine Egg allergy how to check your breasts health one step at a time sexy salad natural alternatives to drugs assertiveness comfort eating performance childrens lunch boxes fun breast cancer awareness video hot guys soft drink and behavior problems health pioneers fun seasonal quick and tasty recipes healthy cooking party leaky gut, gut health, symptoms of leaky gut benefits of strength training, why you should strength train recipes for allergies getting fit strength nutritionists diet diary avoiding a choice mood memory improve your memory is sugar bad allergies nutritious detox sustainable living, rural development, organic gardening, rampumps, biogas increasing energy cholesterol lowering diet prostate cancer I don't get hungry libido healthy shopping list christmas herbal toothpaste quick recipes new year's resolutions dancing how to avoid injury during exercise muscle wasting love food how to get more of exercise healthy shopping motivation low calorie diet 7 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol and Protect Your Heart taking responsibility Laughter and stress comfort foods brain health sexy salads happiness workshop diet diary of a nutritionist music natural toothpaste Lisa's Diary real food what is movember I've Got Life taking a break cooking with allergies food intolerances comfort pig weightloss fruit calorie controlled diet heart foundation tick explained cooking class in brisbane fatigue lunch healthy fast food, healthy take away diet diary pop-eye and spinach ask my doctor overindulge Happiness dance gift what is healthy food 10 % principle foods in season, seasonal recipes feels good nutrition breast cancer prevention fussy eaters ability to respond benefits to keeping a diet diary love, loneliness delicious four questions you must ask your doctor before taking medication simple 7 day detox plan Nutritional Therapist trans fats sugar and add breast cancer awareness should I eat organic veggies keep focused benefits of sleeping the tummy beast corporate wellness best exercise healthy cooking demonstration stress, keys to managing stress, benefits of stress dangers of multitasking while you eat go for 2 and 5 to know and not do is not yet to know great second hand books soccer, role of team sports in longevity, role of exercise and community in longevity breakfast control making time to relax Dr Randy Pausch on Oprah