Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Why Calories Don’t Count

Why not all calories are the same, and why we should pay less attention to calories and focus more on what is the actual food we are eating. 

According to Dr Giles Yeo, who is a renowned researcher on obesity at the university of Cambridge, every calorie count you see is wrong.

Take protein. Only 70 percent of 100 calories of protein that we consume will be used as fuel inside us for energy. The other 30 calories are actually used to metabolise the protein to enter our bloodstream. 

For carbohydrates, the actual caloric availability is higher, between 90 to 95 calories out of very 100. Depending on whether it is good complex carbs like potatoes or processed sugar.

This means, eating 200 calories of minimally processed meat and eating 200 calories of table sugar will result in vastly different calorie usage in our bodies. 

Dr Yeo further explains. Protein goes deeper into our gut to be broken down and eating the same calories of protein will make us feel fuller than eating the same amount of fat.

And carbohydrates make us feel even less satiated as it is broken down further up in our body. We have to eat far more sugar to be satisfied. 

Similarly, a raw stick of celery has only 6 calories because it has a lot of good fibre. And fibre is wonderful as it provides fuel for our gut microbiome. 

When we cook that celery stick, you get 30 calories instead. As some of the fibre is broken down and more sugar is released. Yet, a cooked celery is easier to consume.

The takeaway from these examples is that as Dr Yeo explains, not to be fixated by the calories printed on the label. We should focus on what is the actual value and quality of food we are consuming instead.

Having more protein and fibre rich foods in our diet can make us feel more satiated and gain better nutrition than the same amount from foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. They tend to taste better too.

Ultra processed and fast foods contain lesser protein and very little fibre content. You will have to eat more of such content to feel satisfied and they don’t taste good too. And they are not very healthy either. 

And this is why calories don’t count.

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