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  • Not all Calories are the Same

    Calories are not all the Same

    When you're trying to lose or even gain weight, you hear a lot about 'how many' calories but what can be just as important is 'what kind' of calories you're eating. It's true that one calorie from fat contains the same energy as a calorie that comes from carbohydrates of protein but the function and health effects of calories can be different.

    You can control your weight by only watching how many calories you eat. If you want to lose weight, simply cut your calories and the weight will come off. The same goes for gaining and maintaining your weight. If however your concern goes beyond weight and you feel like your health also matters, you should focus on the types of calories you put into your body. Weight is only one component that affects health – the type of food you eat is another.

    Fat
    Fat is an often misunderstood nutrient. Because it's the same word that is used to describe someone who is overweight, a lot of people think that if you eat fat, you automatically become fat. No single food or nutrient makes you fat. What makes you fat is consuming too many calories. You can get fat from eating too many carbohydrates and too much protein.

    Each gram of fat has 9 calories per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram from carbs and protein). Fat can be separated into two basic categories: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat is found mainly in foods that come from animals such as meat, milk, eggs and cheese. Saturated fat is usually called the “bad” fat because it has been shown to negatively affect cholesterol levels which leads to cardiovascular problems.

    Unsaturated “good” fat is found mainly in plant foods such as oils and vegetables (and fish) and can reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems. You should limit your intake of saturated fat to 10% of your daily calorie intake. Unsaturated fat should account for 20% of your daily intake.

    How much fat should I eat each day?

    Carbohydrates
    Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy. Carbs can also be separated into two categories: simple and complex. The basic building block of a carbohydrate is sugar. Simple carbs (like the name states) are only a few sugar molecules put together while complex carbs can be hundreds and even thousands of them.

    Simple carbs are digested and absorbed very quickly. They rapidly increase the amount of energy in your system and if this energy isn't burned off right away, it could lead to excessive fat storage and weight gain. Simple carbs can also give you that famous sugar rush followed by a crash.

    Simple carbs should be limited in your diet, especially if you're trying to lose weight. High amounts of sugar has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Foods high in simple carbs include: white bread and pasta, candy, soda, products with high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices and most junk foods.

    Because complex carbs have a different structure, they are digested and absorbed a lot slower. This gives you a slow release of energy that isn't followed by a crash. Foods rich in these carbs are those made from 100% whole wheat flour, fruits, vegetables, oats, granola and brown rice. Carbohydrates should make up 50-60% of your overall calorie intake.

    How many carbs should I eat each day?

    Protein
    Protein is used in the body to make and repair all sorts of tissue (muscle, skin, hair, hormones). Since protein is used in building muscle, people who are trying to gain weight are obsessed with the amount they eat. Because protein can't be stored in the body as protein, any excess that you eat will be converted to fat.

    Like fat and carbs, protein can also be broken down into two categories: complete and incomplete. Protein is made up of amino acids. If an amino acid can be made in the body, it's called non-essential. If it can't be made in the body, it's called essential. For a protein to be complete, it must contain all the essential amino acids. An adequate intake of complete proteins is important because your body can't use incomplete proteins to make and repair tissue.

    Complete proteins are found in animal products such as meat, milk, cheese and eggs. Vegetarians shouldn't worry because two or more incomplete proteins can be combined to produce a complete one. As long as your diet includes a wide variety of food, you will get all the complete protein you need.

    Protein is sometimes associated with high levels of saturated (bad) fat. When you increase your intake of protein, try to go for clean sources such as chicken, lean cuts of beef, low fat dairy, nuts, beans, fish and some supplements. Protein should make up about 20% of your daily caloric intake.

    How much protein do I need to eat each day?

    So while all calories, regardless of the source, contribute the same amount of energy, they aren't all the same. Regardless of if you're trying to lose, gain or maintain weight, your ultimate goal should be to increase your intake of good calories while cutting out the bad ones.

  • #2
    Re: Not all Calories are the Same

    Good article ken. Lots of basic info.

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    • #3
      Re: Not all Calories are the Same

      Really good article! But I'm not standing behind the carbs are the main source for our energy thing.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 2digits View Post
        Really good article! But I'm not standing behind the carbs are the main source for our energy thing.
        Why do you think that?

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        • #5
          Because they only give us little energy. Without the fats, we wouldn't be able to go on long. Without carbs we can. I am talking about like daily life, without hard cardio

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          • #6
            The current recommendations are that 50-60% of your total calories come from carbs. The reason why carbs are better than fat for energy is because some parts of our bodies such as our brains and red blood cells can't function off of anything except glucose (a sugar). If you eat more fat and a lot less carbs, your body can make glucose from protein but you won't function at your peak.

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            • #7
              Those official recomendations are about to change. And I compltely understand it. People who suffer from diabetes etc, didn't get it from eating too much fats. They got it from eating too many carbs. I'm not really sure how to explain this properly, but something that carbs make insuline, and our body only needs little of it. When we eat alot of carbs we got alot insuline, which leads to diapetes, and clogged aortaries.
              Think of how many gavemen had heart problems. They lived for years and years with fats and protein. And I think they might have even hunted alot. Which means you had to run fast and perhaps for long periods :P

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              • #8
                When you eat carbohydrates (sugar), your pancreas releases insulin which pushed the sugar out of the blood and into the muscle and liver. High blood sugar for prolonged periods of time which is why we have insulin. Insulin isn't bad, it's the normal way your body works.

                Where did you hear the recommendations are changing? Yes, when you eat too much sugar and don't exercise enough, you put yourself at an increased risk of diabetes but simply saying an increased consumption of carbs will give you diabetes isn't giving the full story.

                I'm not sure how many cavemen had heart problems. But even if they had none, so many things are different from our time and their's that it's impossible to really know what caused the increase in heart problems. Most people agree that the increased intake of saturated fat from fast food has lead to an increase in the amount of cardiovascular problems this country is facing. Healthy carbs - those from 100% whole wheats, oats, fruits and vegetables can actually help prevent heart disease.

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                • #9
                  very good info, but it is still ultimately important to be BURNING more calories then you are packing on in fat. burn more and get lean. Eat more and burn less get far. pretty simple for most people.

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                  • #10
                    Of course we can't live without any carbs. We need LITTLE amount of the good ones. But only little. I really obviously couldn't explain what I ment properly.
                    But also we only need a little amount of carbs to function, and the rest has no other choice but to turn into fat. People eat WAY too many carbs. Even the people who eat good ones.

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                    • #11
                      Well anything will turn into fat if you don't use it. There's nothing special about carbs that will make you fat. If you eat too much fat or too much protein, you will gain weight.

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                      • #12
                        Well all I know is that people with heart conditions and diabetes shouldn't avoid food with fat, they should avoid food with carbs.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 2digits View Post
                          Well all I know is that people with heart conditions and diabetes shouldn't avoid food with fat, they should avoid food with carbs.
                          Where do you know this from?

                          You can't put a blanket statement like that on fat or carbs. Some fats (saturated) can cause cardiovascular problems and some fats (unsaturated) can actually prevent cardiovascular problems.

                          The same with carbohydrates. Everyone should reduce their intake of sugars but complex carbs such as 100% whole wheat, oats, granola, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber decreases your cholesterol levels which helps you avoid heart disease. That's good, not bad.

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                          • #14
                            This is usually the hardest part to grasp. You've made the decision to go healthy, but which advice do you take? This article breaks it down and simplifies what to eat, but even if you ignore that, you can't get away from the fact that if you burn off more calories than you consume, you're heading in the right direction.

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                            • #15
                              very informative, if you want to lose weight then you should avoid high fat foods or foods which have more cheese, butter etc.

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