The Calorie Quandary: Not all Calories are the Same

The Calorie Quandary: Not all Calories are the Same

The calorie counting method

‘All calories are not made equally and that the quality of calories eaten is just as essential as the amount of calories consumed’.

It is a total misconception that all calories in foods that we eat are equal. Unfortunately, many individuals are following this poor advice when trying to lose weight and end up hitting a brick wall and failing in their weight loss quest. The trap that people fall into is that they think that consuming 150 calories of sweet sugary or complex carbs is the equivalent to eating the same calorie content in leafy green vegetables and beans.

This maybe a crude example of how people are still using the ‘calorie counting method’ to lose weight; but you will be very surprised how many people out there are still following this out dated method of using the calorie as a marker.

Can you work out this scenario?

Complex carbs are found in foods such as whole meal bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa. Sugary simple calories are found in cookies, cakes, soft drinks, pastries, packaged cereals, white flour products and lots of refined processed junk foods. In addition, there is a healthy and a more natural source of simple carbs, which includes fruits and vegetables. Therefore, if you ate one serving of cake, pastry or white bread, would that be the same as eating one serving of brown rice or wholemeal bread in terms of the calorie content consumed? I will let you work the calorie content out from this scenario!

The rise in blood sugar

Following the consumption of carbs of any variety there is a rise in blood sugars and this increase activates the beta cells in the pancreas to secrete insulin. One of the main roles of insulin is to keep blood sugars within a stable range and it also drives glucose into the cells. An excessive or lack of insufficient carbs regardless of the calorie content causes peaks and dips in the blood glucose.

These repeated fluctuations over a lengthy period of time impact on the body’s ability to produce and use the insulin. This mechanism increases insulin resistance, thereby reducing your fat burning potential and increasing your fat storage.

The GI Index

When dealing with insulin, it is all about creating a stable blood sugar environment and the use of the Glycemic Index (GI) is a great strategy in controlling this powerful hormone. The use of the GI is a far more beneficial approach than that of calorie counting.

The term GI is used to determine how rapidly the foods are broken down in the body and the impact they have on blood sugar spikes. Use this GI calculator to determine the GI of many common foods.

Effect of High GI Foods

High GI foods cause the following to happen within the body:

  • Causes a huge spike in blood sugars and high levels of insulin are secreted to counteract this
  • The body tends to produce too much insulin and this reduces blood sugars drastically
  • This process heightens the feelings of hunger and causes you to eat more food and calorie intake.

Effect of Low GI foods

On the other hand, low GI foods are digested and absorbed more gradually, this is key to weight loss and it can have the following positive effects on the body:

  • Low GI foods cause a slower more rapid rise in blood sugars
  • They improve your ability to use glucose as a primary source of energy
  • They tend to have a lower calorie value than high GI foods
  • Enhances your feeling of fullness and you are less likely to snack and consume more unwanted calories
  • Improves your chances of weight loss and management.