The Truth About Good and Bad Calories

There are a million and one tricks and tips out there that will “guarantee” you will lose weight. Let’s face it – losing weight is hard. After you’ve tried a few tips and tricks, it can seem like nothing works for you.

There is, however, a tried and true solution: have a greater calorie “expenditure” than calorie intake. In other words, make sure you are using more calories than you are consuming, and make sure your calories are coming from high-quality, nutrient-packed and balanced foods.

Sounds easy, right? Tell that to your stomach when you have consumed your supposed calorie limit my 3pm, and can’t bear the idea of skipping dinner. This is why choosing foods wisely is the key. Cutting out calories isn’t easy, and the calorie-delivering foods vary greatly with regards to nutritional value and overall impact on your appetite.

The Mainstream Solutions… and Why They Aren’t Enough

The logic of many people fighting to lose weight will center around one of the following ideas: If I restrict calories, I will feel hungry, no doubt. So, I need to find something that will either:

  1. Make me feel less hungry, OR
  2. Make me burn more calories.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these over-the-counter weight-loss supplements.

Garcinia Cambogia: Garcinia Cambogia extract contains hydroxycitric acid, a compound that inhibits fat storage, and lowers appetite. It also helps to control blood sugar spikes after eating high glycemic-index foods. Buy now for $15.97

Green Coffee Extract: The active ingredient in green coffee extract is chlorogenic acid, which theoretically increases energy expenditure (metabolic rate), promoting weight loss. More rigorous studies still need to be conducted to determine whether this is trueBuy now for $24.37

Caralluma Fimbriata: Indian cactus extract releases pregnane glycosides, which is an enzyme blocker, into you system, preventing the formation of new fat, suppresses your appetite, reducing your food cravings. Buy now for $24.27

These are just some of the supplements that were designed to make weight-loss just a bit easier. The problem is, they aren’t long-term solutions. While they may promote weight loss in the short term, the weight is often regained after treatment stops, if they aren’t accompanied by changes in diet, habits and lifestyle.

Are Calories Really the Bad Guys?

We tend to cringe a bit when we hear the word “calories”. Calories aren’t things there are inherently bad for you; on the contrary – we all need calories to survive. Calories are just a name given to energy, so that the amount of energy can be measured. So, when we talk about cookie containing 50 calories, it is just an indicator of how much energy that particular food contains.

The elements of food that contribute calories to your diet are macronutrients, or:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat

Carbohydrates and protein are equally dense in energy, while fat is more than double in calorie density for the same weight.

We use that energy for all our bodily functions: from walking, to breathing, to pumping blood through our body. Without calories, we would quickly deplete our stores and die within a few weeks, at most.

But real nutrition is about much more than just calories. We need wide range of elements to stay healthy and functional. These include the macronutrients themselves, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), water, and other phytocomponents.

Let’s take that cookie we mentioned earlier. Calories alone, aren’t an indicator of nutritional quality. It may only deliver 50 calories, but it might not deliver much other than refined sugars and unhealthy fats, with very few vitamins and minerals.

A large carrot, for example, might contain almost the same number of calories as the cookie. But it also contains fiber, important vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A, and it will make you feel much fuller than the cookie.

It’s All About Quality

Calories in themselves are not bad. The problem comes about when a food provides little else except calories. These are also known as empty calories. Junk food like cookies, chips, and most fast food are famous sources of empty calories. They deliver energy, but the ingredients that they are made (refined sugar, trans fats, saturated fats, white flour, and more ) do not help you to loose weight, even they may promote serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart problems, obesity.

 A chocolate bar, for example, may provide as many calories as two apples, but the two apples will deliver a range of vitamins, water, and fiber that will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

And you know what? That is the secret…

Not only is it about keeping an eye out for total calorie consumption, but also food quality. High-quality, fresh foods will keep you feeling fuller for longer, not making it feel like you are depriving your body of food.  Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain provide lots of fiber and volume, allowing you to eat more of them, while healthy fats and lean protein help keep your cravings at bay.

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Once you have made changes in your diet that promote quality over quantity, you will be right on your way to successful weight loss. Avoid empty calories, and rather choose foods that provide a diversity of nutrients. Combine dietary changes with regular exercise, and, after consulting with your doctor, an adequate supplement regimen, and you will reach your weight-loss goals in no time.