Adrianna on: Macronutrients vs Calories

By Adrianna McDonald

You may wonder is a calorie just calorie? Do I eat whatever I want as long I’m in a calorie deficit? Well, lets make it clear…

Calories are indeed a measure of energy and weight, change depends on the balance between: energy in vs energy out.

Energy out can be:

  • physical activity
  • energy to keep you alive at rest BMR (basal metabolic rate)
  • energy added to the body like amino acids to muscle, and fat to fat tissues
  • energy lost in waste (bathroom stuff)
  • energy used to digest the food you eat

Energy in can be:

  • How many calories were in the food you ate

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However, energy in is just as complex as energy out, because of the energy cost of digesting food. For example, some food (celery, cucumber) is considered negative calories as it takes more energy to break down and absorb it. It needs the calories to chew, swallow, make the acid in the stomach, make the enzymes for peristalsis (rhythmic muscular contractions) that drives the food through.

Around 10% goes to daily energy expenditure digesting and absorbing food, but this percentage changes depending on the type of food you eat.

Protein takes the most energy to digest followed by carbohydrates and then fats.

Some research advocates that eating whole food takes more energy to digest than processed food!

Processed food takes less energy to digest and absorb compared to whole foods, so 100 calories of processed food ends up being more net calories than 100 calories of whole food.

If you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy be wise and eat whole foods.

So yes you can eat “junk” and loose weight (at least at the beginning).

Bottom line is – if you just eat for calories and predominantly “junk food” you most probably will be missing out on micronutrients.

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When you’re missing key vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals, your body doesn’t work properly. You feel terrible (mod, appearance, energy). Immunity goes down. And you get sick!

Human bodies are dynamic, complex, organic, and sensitive systems.

What we eat isn’t necessarily what we absorb as all food isn’t created equal. There are many factors impacting our digestion, and use of the food we eat.

This means that the fuel, or calorie, value of food outside the body isn’t going to have the same value inside the body.

We are all “unique” and we have an individual gut flora called the “microbiome”, just like our unique fingerprint. Changing our gut flora changes our digestion and absorption, and hence our body composition and health.

Every food choice is an opportunity to direct, shape, and remake our health. Our body composition. Our performance. Our well-being.

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