Is a Calorie a Calorie?
In a very simplistic view, changes in body weight are the result of our energy balance. This can be summarised in the equation: Energy In – Energy Out = Energy Balance. If we eat (and drink) more energy than we expend through exercise, activities of daily living and our basal metabolic rate (the energy we need to keep our basic bodily functions going) we end up in a positive energy balance and our body weight increases.
Not all Energy is Created Equal
While the simple energy balance equation is a good starting point, not all energy (kilojoules or calories) is created equal. Eating 1000kJ of energy can influence our body composition differently depending on the composition of macronutrients of the 1000kJ. Macronutrients are carbohydrate, protein and fat and how much of each of these we include in our diet can influence our body composition. Eating 1000kJ of carbohydrate will have different effects on our physiology compared to eating 1000kJ of protein. There will also be different influences on body composition depending on the type of macronutrient as carbohydrates are not all created equal, just as the type of fat and protein included in our diet can have an effect.
Combining fat with fibre (carbohydrate) prolongs the time it takes for food to travel through our digestive tract  and leads to a greater sense of fullness after eating, compared to eating fat alone. Adding fat or protein to a carbohydrate-rich meal lowers the blood glucose response compared to eating carbohydrate alone . Getting the right balance of protein can also help maintain metabolically activity tissue (muscle) while losing body fat.
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1. Samra RA (2010) Fats and Satiety. In: J. P. Montmayeur and J. le Coutre, editors. Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects. Boca Raton (FL).
2. Akhavan T, Luhovyy BL, Brown PH, Cho CE and Anderson GH. Effect of premeal consumption of whey protein and its hydrolysate on food intake and postmeal glycemia and insulin responses in young adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2010;91: 966-975.
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