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Weight Loss Myths: A Calorie is a Calorie

Yesterday I blogged about calorie burning myths. Today’s myth is also about calories, and it’s one I hear a lot: a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

 

Here’s the truth: if you eat more calories than your body can burn or use, the excess will contribute to body fat, regardless of where those calories come from. So it is true that even veggies or egg whites can get turned into body fat if you eat too much. But it’s not true that your body treats every calorie the same way.

 

A Wake Forest University study found that even at the exact same calorie and fat level, monkeys fed a diet high in trans fat gained 4 times more weight gain and 30% more belly fat. Other studies have found that calories from protein have a greater thermogenic - in other words, you burn more calories in the hours after a higher protein meal compared to a higher carb meal of the same calorie level.

 

So, the reality is if you ate two meals with the exact same number of calories, your body would not treat them the same way. For example, both of these meals contain about 600 calories:

 

Meal #1:

1 cup whole wheat penne

Half cup all natural marinara sauce

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 oz grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 cup grapes

 

Meal #2:

4 chicken nuggets

Small fries

Small cola

 

Of the two, there’s a good chance that meal #2 may end up contributing to belly (or other) bulge compared to meal #1.

 

Bottom line: calories are important, but the quality of your calories is key. They really aren’t all created equal!

 

What’s your take on this topic? Please share and check back tomorrow for this week’s final weight loss myth.

 

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