Convention wisdom told us that the equation was simple.
Calories in = calories out.
What we are learning nowadays, is that not all calories are created equally.
I mean, if I was to tell you that the number of calories in a small ‘fun size’ chocolate bar was the same as banana… could you honestly say that one is as good for you as the other? I know we sometimes opt to eat the chocolate, but we know that the banana would be the better option.
Whilst I certainly don’t agree with calorie counting, it is important to understand how calories are made up and used within our bodies. It may be more beneficial to think of calories as energy to allow us to view them through the eyes of holistic health.
So, let’s go back to basics really quickly!
Calories are essentially a unit of energy contained within food.
Food is made up of three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat – which are the ‘building blocks’ for our bodies.
Each of these macronutrients has a different number of calories per gram:
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
Fats = 9 calories per gram
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram but is not considered a macronutrient as it doesn’t provide energy to the body (hence the term ‘empty calories’)
Once you know the number of grams of each macronutrient within a food, you can then calculate the number of calories (energy) the food contains.
Each of the three macronutrients are required by our bodies to function in varying amounts so it’s important to deprive ourselves entirely of any particular type. The fear of fat and the ‘low fat’ movement (which was replaced with high sugars) is thankfully a thing of the past!
So, I put it to you that it’s the quality of the calories over quantity of calories that really matters!
Opt for foods which are less calorie dense such as unprocessed plant foods. This allows you to consume a larger volume of food for the same number of calories, which in turn, helps to keep you fuller for longer.