As a nutritionist, I’m often asked, “Is a calorie a calorie?” Well, according to the laws of thermodymanics, yes, all calories are created equal (at least on paper). But —and this is a big but— the way the body breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat, the three main sources of calories in our diet (four if you count alcohol), and the effect they have on our bodies differ vastly. There are semester-long courses that explain just how our bodies break down, burn and store each of these four calorie sources differently, but since this is a 750-word blog post, I’ll try do my best to briefly explain why not all calories are created equal.
In addition to being a potent and flavorful source of energy, fats slow digestion, deliver important fat-soluble vitamins to the body, and provide important building blocks for every one of our cells.
All dietary fats provide about 9 calories per gram but, as you likely already know, some fats are better for our health than others. For example, polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, found in foods like wild salmon and flaxseed, have protective, anti-inflammatory properties, whereas artificial trans fats have been linked to increased inflammation and heart disease. More...