Calories and Weight Loss
The world is full of people who've been attempting to lose weight for what seems like most of their lives. While we're constantly bombarded with advertisements for diet and weight loss programs that promise to help people shed the pounds once and for all, most people will spend years trying different diets only to never make any meaningful progress.
Many so-called weight loss professionals will speak out against these ineffective fad diets, but then will go on to tell their clients that the only "real" way to drop the pounds is by counting calories and eating below your daily caloric requirement.
Sadly, this advice sounds very scientifically sound, but it fails to take into consideration some important facts about different calorie sources and how they affect the body. To help you understand your true caloric and dietary needs, here's what you need to know about different calorie sources and how they will or won't help you to achieve your weight loss goals.
The Differences in Calories
While many people will swear that "a calorie is a calorie," this simply isn't the case. Different types of calories require different amounts of energy to burn. For example, your body readily burns protein as a fuel source and will often choose carbohydrates as a last resort, preferring instead to store them as fat. Furthermore, it takes more energy to digest protein, whereas carbs are digested with little to no energy expenditure whatsoever.
Another area where calories differ greatly is the body's response to different forms of sugar. Glucose, which is the type of sugar you find in breads or cereals, is readily digested by all organs of the body and does not trigger insulin responses that can make you feel hungry. However, fructose, which is the type of sugar found in both fruit and candies, can only be digested by the liver and can spike insulin levels, leading to a false sense of hunger even if you're satiated.
How Calories can affect Weight Loss
Those who swear by the "calories in, calories out" model promise their followers that all that matters when it comes to losing weight is that you eat less than you expend. While there's some truth to this, the fact of the matter is that some calories are better than others. You're more likely to feel satiated and to burn through your fuel source efficiently if you consume a diet high in protein and vegetables. Conversely, a diet full of fruit and starchy carbs will make you feel sluggish and give you a false sense of hunger, even if you remain under your calorie goal for the day.
Finally, it's important to remember that no person lives each day identical to the other. Some days might involve a lot of physical exertion, whereas other days might involve a person barely getting up from their desk or couch. Ultimately, the energy we need to lose weight and thrive cannot be summed up by one clean number.