Is a calorie just a calorie?

When the topic of weight loss comes up in any conversation, the term ‘calorie’ invariably pops up. But what exactly is it? Is it the most important parameter one needs to consider when trying to lose weight? Or are there some additional parameters as well. Let us find out here.

A calorie is simply a unit of energy. The amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius is termed as one kilocalorie(kcal). Different foods are burned in a laboratory, and the amount of heat released is analyzed to estimate the caloric content of that food. Total calories for food can also be estimated by adding the energy values of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fat present in it.

1g of carbs = 4 kcal of energy

1 g of protein = 4 kcal of energy

1 g of fat = 9 kcal of energy

We say weight gain results when the number of calories we take in exceeds the number of calories we burn. Eating too much and exercising too little also causes weight gain, we say. These truths seem so self-evident that we don’t question whether they are actually true. But are they?

Does 200g of cookie cause the same metabolic response as 200g of eggs? Obviously, the answer is no. A calorie is just a calorie ignores the fact that both foods are absorbed very differently in our bodies. 200 calories from cookies are way more fattening than 200 calories from eggs because different sets of hormones are triggered by these foods. Both foods have different metabolic pathways. Consuming cookies will lead to insulin spikes whereas consuming eggs will not. There is no significant increase in insulin or glucose in the processing of eggs.

As a result, this widely held belief has been debunked. All calories are not equally likely to cause weight gain. The quality of food also matters.

I’m a passionate health coach and member of a community known as Biomarked. We aim to educate and empower people about lifestyle issues like Diabetes Type 2, PCOS, Thyroid, Fatty Liver, etc. If I can assist you or someone in your social circle, do let me know. Please take a look at my Instagram profile as well to know about my work. I would love to help you out in any manner!!.

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