Should you reduce or replace your calories? Not all calories are equal. While all calories contain the same amount of energy, calories from fresh foods react differently. Consider a donut, a kale salad with olive oil dressing, and a broiled chicken breast.
The donut contains calories from sugar that your body immediately digests and absorbs into your bloodstream. Once there, the blood sugar triggers an insulin response, followed by a cortisol release. If your body does not quickly burn these calories, your body converts them as body fat. One donut can cause many problems: two donuts double the sugar, the calories, and the body fat.
The green leaves in your salad provide calories from healthy carbohydrates and fiber.
Green leaves are slowly digested, even requiring additional calories for the digestive process. Also, it provides bulk and fiber that may pass through your digestive system without being fully digested or absorbed.
The olive oil in your dressing is a fat (lipid). Here, it is a healthy fatty acid that remains undigested in your digestive tract until it reaches your small intestine. After digestion, your intestines absorb olive oil and burn it as fuel or store it in your liver for future use. Olive oil and avocados are examples of healthy fats, compared to the unhealthy fats found in butter, cheese, red meat, and full-fat dairy products.
The broiled chicken breast provides calories from lean protein.
The digestion process begins in your mouth as you chew and ends in your stomach. The acids in your stomach break proteins down into amino acids. Your body absorbs the protein and then uses it to build or repair your body. The human body does not burn protein as fuel when you eat carbohydrates or fats.
If your goal is a lean, muscular or toned body with less stored body fat, doesn’t it make sense to consume fewer calories from simple carbohydrates (donuts) and more calories from healthy carbs (kale), lean protein (chicken), and healthy fatty acids (olive oil)?
You may have also been told that the only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit. Both options are effective, but there is a third option that will help boost your weight loss. Replace “bad” calories from sugars and saturated fats with “good” calories from complex carbohydrates, Omega-3 fatty acids, and lean proteins.
Instead of choosing between replacing or reducing calories, do both!
Reduce the number of calories you eat daily to create your calorie deficit and replace the empty junk calories with healthy calories. Start by eliminating sugars (cookies, donuts, cakes, etc.) and saturated fats (butter, cheese, and ice cream). Also, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains: foods filled with complex carbohydrates and fiber. Doing so will fill your stomach and leave you satisfied with nutritious foods and fewer calories!