What The Heck Is A Calorie Anyway?
I think many people get confused about what a calorie really is. Calories seem to have a bad rep in general but especially in the weight loss world. If you understand what the function of a calorie actually is, I think you will develop a positive relationship with the calorie:)
The scientific meaning of a calorie is the unit measurement of energy. In other words, calories give our body the energy it needs to function. Once you understand the benefits of "high quality" calories, you will be able to choose foods that contain nutrient dense calories over empty calories.
I like to break calories into two categories
There are high quality calories which provide your body with long lasting energy, vitamins, fibre and minerals. All of these nutrients will help keep your body happy and healthy. Whole foods such as; vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes are examples of high quality, nutrient dense calories.
Low quality calories are just empty, they mainly contain sugar which gives you quick energy that does not last. Low quality calories decrease your immune system and do not give you any nutritional benefit to your body. Processed food, refined sugar, chocolate bars, candy, white rice and white bread are all examples of low quality, empty calories.
Are all calories created equal?
This is an interesting question. A calorie is a calorie, but you can choose to fill your body with better, high quality calories instead of empty calories. High quality calories such as the ones in avocado’s, benefit your body much more than the calories that are in, let’s say, a low quality chocolate bar. The avocado is nutrient dense, therefore contains high quality calories. It is rich in omega oils which we need for our brain, healthy hair and skin, and to protect from cell damage. Avocados also contain powerful antioxidants to help fight free radicals. The fat content in the avocado helps absorb our fat soluble vitamins, avocados are high in fibre and have an anti inflammatory effect on the body.
I could go on but I think you get the benefits of an example of a high quality calorie source. The empty calorie chocolate bar will, spike your blood sugar, lower your immune system from the amount of refined sugar it contains and it will not provide you with long lasting energy to help you burn those empty calories.
Will I lose weight if I reduce my caloric intake?
It is true that calories in vs calories out equals weight loss, however, you must remember that it is more important to keep the calories you burn balanced with the amount you intake and to eat high quality calories instead of empty calories. If you burn more calories than you intake for a long period of time, your metabolism will slow down to compensate for the low calorie diet and then will stop the weight loss.
Next time you go grocery shopping think this:
Is this food nutrient dense?
Will it help my body heal and increase my health?
Will I get long lasting energy from this food and be able to burn it off by being active?