A calorie is a calorie is a calorie is a calorie...?

This seems to be a never ending topic to discuss. For those of you who know me, you know I don't subscribe to thermodynamics when it comes to nutrition. For those of you who don't know me, I'm gonna explain how it works :) Because a calorie is not a calorie. So before all the calorie counters out there gets upset, take a nice deep belly breath; I'm not going to dispute Mr. Newton’s law, because calories do matter. It's just that we don't need to count them when we are trying to lose weight.

First off, when we speak about weight loss, the majority of people (in my experience) looking to lose weight are speaking about losing body fat, and are also usually requesting the most efficient method of achieving it. In order to figure that out, we need to understand what causes adipose cells (fat cells) to accumulate fat. Super logical so far, yes yes? The answer to that can be found in this book, and it is the following: “high blood glucose elicits the release of insulin, which speeds the uptake of glucose by tissues and favors the storage of fuels as glycogen and triacyglycerols, while inhibiting fatty acid mobilization in adipose tissue.” Cool cool. Simply put, this means that eating sugar and carbs increases insulin levels in our bodies due to the spike in blood glucose. Insulin transports glucose to the liver and our muscle cells as glycogen in small amounts, and into fat cells as fat (triglycerides) in unlimited amounts, while also inhibiting the breakdown and utilization of fat.

This is why a calorie is not a calorie. To lose weight efficiently and to make the fat loss sustainable, we need to take into consideration what biochemical responses the foods (calories) we eat will demand in our bodies. Let’s take quinoa vs butter as an example; 500 calories of quinoa, vs 500 calories of butter to be specific. The quinoa contains about 80 grams of carbohydrates, which as we’ve learnt now, will demand a completely different biochemical response in our bodies as opposed to the butter, which contains zero carbohydrates. When we eat the quinoa, our blood sugar (glucose) will spike, and as a result, our pancreas will produce insulin, which we know stores fat instead of burning it. The exception here are people with type 1 diabetes, as these people have an autoimmune response that attacks the cell of the pancreas that makes insulin. But for everybody else, this response occurs. Butter on the other hand will obviously not result in a spiked blood sugar, and therefore no insulin spike occurs either. Big difference, and relevant in the quest for fat loss.

Disclaimer: I am not telling you to buy a stick of butter and chew on it, I’m only using quinoa and butter as a way to explain the difference in biochemical response.

There’s unfortunately more bad news linked to the release of insulin; your appetite and sense of fullness will be affected. Ghrelin, the hormone responsible for our feeling of hunger is actually triggered more by insulin than the actual need for food, in combination with leptin (our hormone responsible for fullness) being disrupted by the insulin. So now you’re hungry, and you don’t get full. Crap, right? Good news though is that you can actually balance this out by making dietary changes, that are way easier than counting calories. Try consuming a diet filled with veggies (focus on the ones that grows above ground, less carbs), good quality protein and plenty of good, saturated fats such as grass fed butter and coconut oil. So basic. So simple, and SO damn efficient. XO