Do all calories are worth the same?
Have you ever heard of or read the article Toutes les calories ne sont pas égales1, published in La Presse in early April? It questions everything we thought we knew about calorie intake and macronutrients, i.e., carbohydrates, lipids, and protein.
To lose weight, it is necessary to create a negative balance between your calorie intake and energy expenditure.
We used to believe that regardless of the quality of foods, if our calorie intake was lower than our energy expenditure, we would invariably lose weight. However, this is not true under certain conditions, for various reasons:
- Low-calorie products sold on the market are often synonymous with smaller servings (let’s use frozen meals as an example). Therefore, they contain less of the nutrients that our body needs to function properly. Because these foods are not satisfying, you will quickly feel hungry again, and you will end up eating more.
- Some products contain additives to lower their calorie content, e.g., yogurts with sweeteners. Small amounts of aspartame, acesulfame potassium, or stevia are not harmful in themselves, but they nurture your penchant for sweet tastes and can cause some people to eat more sugar.
- The flavours and textures of these products are often less satisfying, which can also make you eat more to feel fully satisfied with your meal.
Here are some suggestions to adopt healthy eating habits in order to lose fat or maintain your weight:
- Give priority to fresh foods: fruit and vegetables, whole-grain products, nuts, and low-fat dairy products.
- Limit your consumption of processed foods, which are often laden with added sugar and contribute to the build-up of fat tissue from extra calories.
- Cook as much as possible to have control over the ingredients used, as well as their quantity.
- Don’t trust the claims on food packaging labels: take the time to read the list of ingredients and the nutritional label, because marketing can be misleading.
Once again, remember that listening to your hunger and satiety signals is the key to your success!
Marie-Eve Nadeau, P.Dt.
1 Allard, Marie. Toutes les calories ne sont pas égales, La Presse, online, April 7, 2015.