3 Reasons Why All Calories Are Not the Same

Robert Lustig, MD, explains why all calories are not created equal.

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Cutting-edge experts say the “calories in, calories out” philosophy is oversimplified and inadequate.

Quality of calories determines the quantity your body burns or stores, says Robert Lustig, MD, author of the recently published book Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Foods, Obesity, and Disease. He shares these fascinating examples of how calorie quality affects your weight and health.

Fiber

Fiber delays the absorption of calories. For example, when you eat a 160-calorie portion of almonds, you absorb only 130 because some calories are delivered to your intestine, where your gut bacteria burn them for their own energy source.

Protein

You use twice as much energy to metabolize protein as carbohydrate—due to the thermic effect of food. Protein also reduces hunger hormones more than carbs do.

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Carbs

Starches (like potatoes) contain mainly glucose, which every cell in your body uses for energy. Fructose—found in soda and candy and added to most processed foods—is metabolized in your liver as fat, which drives chronic diseases such as diabetes.


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