Not All Calories Are Created Equal or Are They?

“Not all calories are created equal!”

Well, yes, they actually are. A calorie is a calorie.

I know what’s meant by the phrase, not all calories are created equal.

Just because I know, doesn’t mean I don’t hate to hear it! Especially from somebody looking at (and judging) what’s on my plate.

The phrase should be, “the source of all calories isn’t equal.” 

If we want to lose weight, our calories are reduced. If we want to maintain our current weight, our calories we take in must match the calories we burn. In other words, we all have a limited number of calories we can consume in regards to the calories our bodies require for fuel.

We also need certain macronutrients and micronutrients every day to build and repair tissue and to help keep us healthy.

If we consistently choose foods that don’t provide the nutrients we need, we are in essence, wasting our calories.

What exactly is a calorie?

KidsHealth.org says:

When people talk about the calories in food, what do they mean? A calorie is a unit of measurement — but it doesn’t measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it’s a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it.

Are Calories Bad for You?

Calories aren’t bad for you. Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories — and not burning enough of them off through activity — can lead to weight gain.

Most foods and drinks contain calories. Some foods, such as lettuce, contain few calories (1 cup of shredded lettuce has less than 10 calories). Other foods, like peanuts, contain a lot of calories (½ cup of peanuts has 427 calories).

You can find out how many calories are in a food by looking at the nutrition facts label. The label also will describe the components of the food — how many grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat it contains.

I like the matter of fact way KidsHealth explains calories. No judgment!

My experience with people talking to me about calories has been far more judgmental.

PIZZA! Some experts will say it's full of inferior calories because of its high fat (cheese) and refined carb (pizza dough) content. My personal expert advice says one or two slices for dinner tastes divine and keeps me full and happy until breakfast the next morning!

PIZZA! Some experts will say it’s full of inferior calories because of its high fat (cheese) and refined carb (pizza dough) content. My “personal expert” (ME!) advice says one or two slices for dinner tastes divine and keeps me full and happy until breakfast the next morning!

When I was overweight, the calorie comments were: “that’s not very healthy.”

When I was losing weight, the calorie comments were: “that’s got a lot of calories!”

At Weight Watchers, the calorie comments are: “what can I eat that will give me a lot of food for not many calories?”

I am maintaining a weight loss I achieved more than 20 years ago. Just as when I was losing weight, I must continue to conserve my calories to stay at goal. I find it easier to maintain calorie balance (in=out) by staying active. The extra calories I burn through physical activity allow me to eat enough to stay satisfied.

If I moved less, I’d have to reduce the calories I consume and that would leave me hungry, frustrated, and incapable of maintaining my weight loss.

Some experts tell me that foods high in fiber will keep me feeling full longer.

I enjoy high fiber foods, but they don’t keep me feeling full longer.

They also say lean protein will keep me feeling full longer.

I like lean protein but I don’t find that 100 calories of chicken keep me satisfied any longer than 100-calorie-cookie.

The experts are experts with all the scientific credentials to back up their expertise, but nobody is a better expert on me than I am.

And you are the expert on you. I need to listen to my own expert advice to make the best choices for me with my limited calories.

I love fruit and vegetables because they taste good and they are naturally low in calories! They are a perfect choice for me when I want a lot of good-tasting food while conserving my calories!

I love fruit and vegetables because they taste good and they are naturally low in calories! They are a perfect choice for me when I want a lot of good-tasting food while conserving my calories!

 

You will need to do the same for you if you want to lose weight and maintain your goal weight.

So the next time you hear, “not all calories are created equal,” just remember, it’s the source that’s not equal.

A calorie is a terrible thing to waste, so make sure you take your own expert advice. Eat the calories that give you everything you need and want!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.