Is a calorie a calorie? Are all calories equal?

Is a calorie a calorie? Are all calories equal?
Is a calorie a calorie? Are all calories equal?

Is a Calorie a Calorie?



A common nutrition myth is the idea that a calorie is a calorie regardless of where you get it from. The reasoning behind this belief is that all foods will get broken down into simple structures, which eventually become a source of energy.

For instance, getting 100 calories from a candy bar or broccoli is the same, according to this myth.

In reality, calories are not created equal. While they hold the same amount of energy, the source of your calories has a tremendous impact on your health.

In this article, we will cover some of the aspects that make calories different.

What makes calories different?

Fructose vs Glucose

The two main simple sugars in your diet are:


Obviously, a defined amount of these sugars provide the same caloric value; however, the body’s way of metabolizing them varies greatly.

Glucose gets metabolized by almost every cell in the body, whereas the processing of fructose only occurs in the liver.Researchers found that fructose stimulates the release of hunger hormones (e.g., ghrelin) more potently than glucose. Therefore, if you consume a lot of fructose, you will feel satiated faster.

The Thermic Effect of Food

The energy required to metabolize different food varies.

For instance, the gastrointestinal tract is not as efficient at metabolizing protein compared to sugars and fats.

Here is the thermic effect of the different macronutrients:

Fat: 2–3%
Carbs: 6–8%
Protein: 25–30%

Protein induces satiety

Whenever you eat a protein-rich meal, you rapidly feel satiated and full. As a result, you will notice that your appetite decreased.

According to research, protein is the most filling macronutrient. In fact, if you include more protein in your diet, you will start losing weight without having to calculate your calories.

In one study, individuals who modified their diet to consist of 30% protein calories consumed 441 fewer calories and lost 11 pounds (4.9 kg) in 3 months.

In summary, if you do not want to follow a diet but still wish to lose weight, make sure to add more protein to your meals.

Low-Carb Diets Lead to Automatic Calorie Restriction

Although many people associate weight loss with decreasing their fat intake, research suggests that dropping your carb intake is 2–3 times more efficient in inducing weight loss compared to low-fat diets.

Perhaps the primary reason to explain this phenomenon is the caloric restriction experienced by people on a low-carb diet.Consequently, you will consume fewer calories than your body needs, leading to a state of caloric deficit.

The Glycemic Index

Refined carbs have an extremely high glycemic index, which means they elevate your blood sugar faster than complex carbohydrates. This peak in blood glucose is followed by an insulin spike.

Over time, the repeated stimulation of the pancreas to produce insulin precipitates insulin resistance, which is the hallmark of type II diabetes.

Takeaway message

The common saying that a calorie is a calorie is completely false and misleading. When people believe in this statement, they become careless about the source of their food, which could lead to serious complications.

We hope that this article managed to shed some light on the importance of choosing your sources of calories and how different foods can either improve or damage your health.

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, our comment section is open for discussion.

Related Honest Diet Blog
Submit comment
Main Menu