Are all calories equal? That’s a loaded question. Let’s first talk about what a calorie is. In its simplest form, a calorie is the energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1° Celsius. It sounds strange to think about using a measurement to raise the temperature of water. Even stranger when talking about the human body. We will get more into that discussion at a later date. Going back to our question, the quick answer is, yes. One cal gives you the ability to raise 1 g of water, 1°, two cal and you can raise the temperature 2°. You get the idea. But, are all calories equal? No, they are not. Not for what we are asking. In regards to our Health they’re not all equal.
Food can be broken down into the three macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. A single gram of protein or carbs equates to 4 calories. However, fat and alcohol are different: one gram of alcohol equates to 7 calories and a gram of fat gives you 9 total calories! Huge difference! Think about when you wake up in the morning and make breakfast. If each meal was 500 calories, would you rather have a bowl of frosted flakes, pancakes, or three eggs with pepper, mushrooms and onions? The first two options are loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates. These 500 cal are going to be quickly broken down into glucose in your body, then spike your blood sugar. If you do not use the glucose in your bloodstream, your body is going to store that body fat. You may feel great in the moment, but then it will leave you ravishingly hungry three hours later. This is because you need another hit of sugar after your body releases insulin, and takes out the sugar from your bloodstream. If you eat the eggs and vegetables, you are giving your body the tools to rebuild muscle. Carbs and sugar cannot do this. You are getting micro nutrients from the eggs and vegetables. Plus that 500 calories in the egg breakfast will be a lot more volume than the first two choices. You will not have a spike in your blood sugar, and you will feel satiated longer. Even though all three of those breakfasts are the same calories, one of them is going to allow you to build muscle and nourish the body with the vitamins and minerals needed. The other two will leave you hungry, cause you to want more, and not give you the essential tools to rebuild and strengthen your body.
Pinnacle Fitness is kicking off our Nutritional Program in 2024 led by Gabe Wilner, MS in Exercise Science.