There is a lot of confusion about the word Calories. Calorie is just another word for energy or fuel. Your body burns calories to create energy, or it stores them for energy at a later date.
There are calories that are better for your body to burn. Just like there is better fuel for your car. Calories come from macronutrients such as; Protein 4/g, Fat 9/g, Carbohydrates 4/g and Ketones 4.7/g. All macronutrients are important to the body, and they all have a job. As you can see fats are more than double the calories as any other macronutrient, but they have special traits that make them very important in the diet.
Fat Qualities 9 calories per gram
- Make you feel full by turning on the hormones that turn off hunger
- Hormones are made of fat, specifically cholesterol
- Insulation for nerves
- Hair and nails require fat, as well as skin
- Fat is broken down slowly
- Fat can be converted to ketones by the liver
Ketone Qualities 4.7 calories per gram
- Ketones can be burned as fuel by every cell
- The brain does use sugar for fuel also, but ketones are a cleaner fuel and the brain does not need insulin to use either fuel.
- Ketones are proven to reduce inflammation, increase mental acuity and focus, increase energy, reduce insulin resistance, reduce cravings… and more
Protein Qualities 4 calories per gram
- Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and repairmen
- Proteins deliver nutrients, enzymes and hormones to the cells
- Proteins are broken down slower than carbs.
- Protein can be converted to sugar by the body to provide energy to the brain and cells in the case of starvation.
Carbohydrate Qualities 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates provide fiber, minerals, and vitamins
- Carbohydrates are broken down easily and offer quick fuel, but are also stored as fat easily if they lack fiber and are not burned off with exercise soon after consumption.
- Simple carbs can be addictive, and turn off the Full sensor – allowing you to overindulge and have cravings.
- The cells of the body require insulin to use the sugar in carbohydrates
A note about fiber… fiber is so important in the body. Often people who reduce carbs do so at the expense of fiber. Without fiber the body misses out on so many things. Fiber has no calories and is not digested in the small intestines. Fibers either pass through or get broken down in the large intestine and help clean the colon, feed beneficial bacteria, helps you feel full, manage diabetes and create short chain fatty acids like, acetate, butyrate and propionate which are ketogenic. So in the effort to count calories, please remember to increase your dietary fiber.
I usually tell people to not get too hung up on calories, but it’s important to understand what they are and how your body burns them. You can use the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator above to determine how many calories your body burns in a rested state. This gives you an idea of why you must eat a certain amount of food daily to continue to live. Calories are not the enemy. Calories are necessary for life and the quality of the calories you choose to put in your body are how you determine your long term health and fitness. Calories in – does not equal calories out!