Are all calories created equally?
We are led to believe that losing body fat is all about calorie counting. If you want to lose body fat then the calories you expend in your daily activities has to be more than the calories you are eating but is it really that simple?
The most up to date research shows that not surprisingly the human body is a highly complex biochemical system and we don’t fully understand how it operates.
Here are 4 examples of when a calorie might not be a calorie.
- The Glycemic Index (GI)
This is a measure of how quickly foods raise our blood sugar. The more refined a carbohydrate is the higher it’s GI and the greater its effect will be. When a food spikes your blood sugar levels it tends to lead to a crash in blood sugar levels a few hours later leading to cravings for more sugary snacks. This blood sugar rollercoaster will leave you feeling tired and grump particularly if you can’t get your next ‘fix’. This spike in blood sugar causes a spike in insulin levels which in turn promotes fat storage and switches off the hormone which tells you when you are full. This results in overeating and unwanted weight gain.
Tip: Make sure that the carbohydrates you eat have a low glycemic index giving a sustained energy release without the blood sugar and insulin spikes.
- Protein decreases appetite
A protein calorie is not the same as a fat calorie which is not the same as a carbohydrate calorie, they all have very different effects on your ability to control your appetite. Protein makes you feel fuller for longer so you will eat less and gain fewer pounds. To benefit from proteins weight controlling properties, make sure you eat protein with every meal.
Tip: Make sure that you eat protein at every meal and if you feel the need to snack between meals then protein and healthy fat filled snacks like nuts are far more nutritious and filling than sugary snacks.
- The Thermic effect of food
Different foods are used by the body to fuel different metabolic pathways and some of these are more efficient than others. Protein is used less efficiently by the body than fat and carbohydrate so it uses a lot more energy to metabolise it.
- Satiety factor
If a food is more satiating, you will want to eat less of it and feel full for longer. Examples include boiled potatoes, beef, eggs, beans and fruits. Doughnuts and ice cream however are low on the satiety index!
Tip: When you eat your evening meal, make sure that at least half of you plate is filled with veg.
In summary, if you are serious about maintaining or reducing your body fat you need to eat good quality protein regularly as well as ample vegetables and fruit and minimal refined foods, especially carbohydrates.
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