NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL
February 2017, by John Le
You’ve probably heard that if you want to get fit, your diet is just as important as working out. When most people think of “dieting” they think about the what: eating less meat, putting less sugar in their body and cutting down on complex carbohydrates. However, very few people think about the when: when to start eating, how long to fast between meals and what time to stop eating before going to sleep. In this article, we address the timing portion of dieting to help you burn fat and get fit. To find out more, check out Ultrametabolism by Dr. Mark Hyman.
SO, WHAT IS A CALORIE?
Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy. It is the energy needed to raise 1g of water 1 degree Celsius. So why do we talk so much about calories when it comes to food? Calories are the base unit for food measurement because it is a measurement of how much energy a piece of food has.
WHY DO WE USE THEM FOR FOOD?
Fun fact: food labels don’t show calories, but rather kilocalories. That is, if you look at the back of a Coca-Cola can and see that it has 120 calories, that means it actually contains 120,000 real calories or 120 kilocalories. A single calorie is so insignificant that it doesn’t really do much to measure it. However, 1,000 calories (1 kilocalorie) has enough impact where measurement means something. So as nutrition measurement came into play, calories were used, but they were actually kilocalories instead of individual calories.
1 CALORIE OF CANDY VS 1 CALORIE OF BROCCOLI
Which is worse? You probably know that the answer is that candy is worse, but don’t know how to articulate it. Well, besides measuring units of energy and heat, we have to talk about the contents of each calorie. Candy is basically pure sugar, whereas broccoli has fiber, is a vegetable carbohydrate and also contains a bit of sugar.
The difference? Sugar in candy burns/metabolizes instantly whereas sugar in broccoli, carrots and kidney beans metabolizes slowly. This means the energy in these foods is released slowly and released later when you would use it. Sugar, on the other hand, is burned instantly and if not used, your body stores it away for later…as fat.
WHAT TO DO
If you watch bodybuilders compete, some eat a bunch of sugar right before posing because it makes their veins pop. Similarly, before sprints or races, some runners will eat a candy bar in order burn the energy from it right away. However, if you’re not planning to do some intense physical activity right away, then maybe put down the candy, sweets, etc and open a can of delicious kidney beans. Actually, it would be better to time your food. If you need the sweets, don’t do it at a desk. Instead, do it before you do a workout. Otherwise, get some fruit that has sugar and fiber and will metabolize later for when you’re at the gym.