Sunday, 29 December 2013

A calorie is not a calorie

I have started a new job, which I absolutely love. However this means I don't have as much time to prepare delicious and healthy meals. So I've been on the hunt for quick, healthy, satisfying options and the clear winner of which I can't get enough of are coconut chunks.

 They are so delicious, filling and very good for you. Ignore their fat content as these are good saturated fats! Ignore the calorie count as a calorie is not a calorie, which will make sense in a bit. I have eaten as much as a whole packet a day and have actually lost weight in the last two weeks. I did feel like I needed to do some research on why coconuts are so good for you so I may preach with substance. And so I've consulted nutritionists, health-minded women at work and even my GP!

A calorie is not a calorie - the words of Robert Lustig - an American pediatric endocrinologist. I was recommended to look up Robert Lustig by my doctor in South Kensington who after learning I am studying naturopathic nutrition launched into several sites I must check out so that as the new generation of health I am one step ahead and able to better bridge the gap between conventional medicine and naturopathy. A relationship that has brought about much controversy. I was excited to find that what he told me is very much in tune with my naturopathic lecturer and so I looked up his recommended sites of which I'd like to share the following. 

Why a calorie is not a calorie

1. Fiber. You eat 160 calories in almonds, but you absorb only 130. The fiber in the almonds delays absorption of calories into the bloodstream, delivering those calories to the bacteria in your intestine, which chew them up. Because a calorie is not a calorie.
    2. Protein. When it comes to food, you have to put energy in to get energy out. You have to put twice as much energy in to metabolize protein as you do carbohydrate; this is called the thermic effect of food. So protein wastes more energy in its processing. Plus protein reduces hunger better than carbohydrate. Because a calorie is not a calorie.
    3. Fat. All fats release nine calories per gram when burned. But omega-3 fats are heart-healthy and will save your life, while trans fats clog your arteries, leading to a heart attack. Because a calorie is not a calorie
    4. Sugar. This is the "big kahuna" of the "big lie." Sugar is not one chemical. It's two. Glucose is the energy of life. Every cell in every organism on the planet can burn glucose for energy. Glucose is mildly sweet, but not very interesting (think molasses). Fructose is an entirely different animal. Fructose is very sweet, the molecule we seek. Both burn at four calories per gram. If fructose were just like glucose, then sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) would be just like starch. But fructose is not glucose. Because a calorie is not a calorie.