What’s in a Calorie?!

What’s in a Calorie?!

Are all calories the same?

Is a calorie a calorie?

So we have all heard the term “a calorie is a calorie” regardless of where it comes from. For example, 100 calories from a chocolate bar is the same as a 100 calories from spinach, but I’m here to tell you this isn’t the case.

Weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance depends on two simple things – energy in (foods) versus energy out (exercise, energy used to digest food) etc. What a lot of us tend to forget is that digesting food takes energy output from our body to break it down. Eating uses calories: calories to chew, swallow, stomach acid, this is called “Dietary-Induced Thermogenesis”.

On average we use approximately 10% of our daily energy expenditure both digesting food as well as absorbing it. This percentage however changes depending on the type of foods you eat. Did you know protein takes the most energy to digest, about 20-30%? Meaning that 20-30% of the total calories in protein are used to digest it. Carbohydrates use around 5-10% of its calories eaten to digest it while fat is 0-3%.

So it tends to look more like this; if a person eats 100 calories from protein, the body will actually use 20-30 of those calories to digest the very thing they just consumed. In comparison, 100 calories consumed from carbohydrates the body will use only 5-10 calories to digest it, and with fat being only 0-3 calories.

This is just one of the many reasons we need to be eating enough protein. Another thing to think about is choosing wholesome foods over processed foods. This can increase the amount of calories burned through the foods we eat, plus they are better for our bodies.