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Not all calories are created equal - Find out why

Calories seem simple on the surface - just numbers to tally up and count. But the truth is, all calories are not created equal in our bodies. The source of those calories makes a big difference for your health and waistline. Let's dig into the myths and facts around calories.

Remember when your body is hungry, it wants nutrients not calories

calorie app on phone

Calorie Myth #1: A Calorie Is a Calorie

This myth comes from how food calories are determined. Foods are burned in a laboratory to measure the energy they contain. From this process, a calorie is a calorie, whether it comes from kale or crips.

However, that's not the whole story of what happens when you eat calories. Our bodies digest and absorb nutrients differently depending on the source. Even though they contain the same energy on paper, 100 calories of almonds do not affect you the same way as 100 calories of cola.

Calorie Fact #1: Nutrient Density Matters More Than Numbers

When choosing foods, it's less about counting calories and more about counting nutrients. Some foods pack way more nutrition per calorie than others. For example, 100 calories of strawberries provides almost 3 grams of satisfying fibre. Meanwhile, 100 calories of jelly beans gives you zero fibre and causes a blood sugar spike.

While both provide energy on paper, your body reacts very differently to the two. Focus on getting calories from whole, minimally processed sources like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. These nourishing foods will keep you full and satisfied with fewer calories overall.

Calorie Myth #2: All Fats Are Bad

For years, we were told to avoid fats in pursuit of weight loss and cholesterol reduction. But healthy fats are essential for hormone balance, brain function, vitamin absorption and more. The key is choosing unsaturated fats from plant sources like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Limit saturated fats from meat and dairy. Avoid fats from processed baked goods and fried food. Contrary to myth, healthy fats don't automatically lead to weight gain. They help you feel full and reduce cravings for empty carb-heavy snacks later.

Calorie Fact #2: Quality Carbs Keep You Feeling Full

There's a reason weight loss diets love to cut carbs - they can be easy to overeat! But not all carbs are created equal. Refined grains like white bread, pasta and rice cause rapid blood sugar spikes. Whole grains like quinoa, oats and brown rice keep you feeling fuller longer.

Fibre is what's making the main difference.

Aim for at least 25-30 grams of fibre from whole grains, fruits and vegetables daily. Fibre helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar slumps.

strawberries falling from dish

Calorie Myth #3: You Must Count Calories To Lose Weight

Tracking every morsel that goes into your mouth is an exhausting way to try to lose weight. Yes, a calorie deficit is required for weight loss mathematically. But you can achieve it without counting every calorie. Focus instead on building meals around lean proteins, veg, whole grains and healthy fats. Stay mindful of portion sizes. When you choose nourishing foods over empty calories, you'll naturally take in fewer calories without counting.

Calorie Fact #3: Focus on Mindful Eating Habits

More than counting every calorie, mindful eating habits are key for weight management.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Eat without distractions to tune into your body's fullness signals.

  • Chew thoroughly and eat slowly to give your brain time to register satiety.

  • Use smaller plates so portions appear larger.

  • Follow the 80/20 rule - eat until you are 80% full.

  • Drink water 30 minutes before meals to help fill your stomach.

  • Similarly, a small green salad before a meal will help reduce how much you eat.

  • Limit sugary treats but don't ban foods.

  • Focus on how food makes your body feel, not just taste.

By becoming a mindful eater, you can enjoy food while maintaining a healthy weight. Ditch the calorie equations and learn to trust your body's wisdom.

So remember, calories are far more complex than any formula. Nourish yourself with a balanced diet of quality whole foods instead of counting calories. Your body will reap the benefits through sustained energy, health and well-being.

If you would like additional support to reach your weight goals without counting calories and enjoy being part of a friendly online community, check out my new membership



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