The old equation about calorie in versus calorie out doesn’t tell the whole story. This is because different foods have their own metabolic ways of interacting with the body. They can also affect hormones in our body to regulate when to eat and how much to eat.
While it is true that calories play an important role in our bodies, the types of food we eat also plays a role that is just as important.
Understanding the Definition of a Calorie
In order for the human body to go about its daily tasks, it needs energy. Everything from breathing to eating to thinking requires a minimum amount of energy. Cells in our bodies also require energy to process chemical reactions. This is why scientists find intuitive means of quantifying energy because it makes those complicated process and calculations much easier.
Enter the calorie…
A calorie is one of the many units of measuring energy. A single calorie raises the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. 1 calorie is equal to 4.184 joules, the SI unit for Joule which most of us may have encountered at high school.
Most people interchangeably use the term calories with kilocalories. 1 kilocalorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
Calorie in and Calorie out
Many people believe that obesity is a simple matter of eating more calories than the body needs. People who believe this theory claim that the types of food we eat are not as important as the amount of calories they contain.
If this was to be believed, then all that one needs to do is to reduce their intake of junk food, walk a couple of blocks to and from their home and call it a day. Yet, by pinning obesity as entirely dependent on a calorie deficit, people are oversimplifying the problem.
Understanding the Whole Story
The two sugars that form part of our diet are glucose and fructose. The two provide the same number of calories pound for pound. Yet the way they interact with the body is completely different. Glucose can be metabolized by all tissues in our bodies. To metabolize a significant amount of fructose, you need the liver.
Glucose calories are vastly different than fructose calories, here is why;
The hunger hormone known as ghrelin increases when we’re hungry and decreases when we’ve eaten. Studies have shown that consumption of fructose releases more ghrelin in the body. This means that by the pound for pound, the body feels less satiated when it consumes fructose compared to glucose.
Proteins are Better than Carbs
Proteins interact with the metabolic pathway different than fats and carb. 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories. Over 25 percent of these calories are lost as heat when processed by the body, this is known as the ‘thermic effect’ of protein.
For comparison purposes, fats have a thermic effect of 2 percent while carbs have 6 percent. What this means is that a protein high in diet gives you a metabolic advantage.