A calorie is NOT a calorie.
Likewise, a carb is NOT a carb.
As I type this, I think I can already hear the haters hating.
Where my IIFYM peeps at? I’ll get to you in a minute.
Okay, so NOT all calories are created equal.
I can’t believe I just opened this bag. In fact, I’m overwhelmed at the task I’ve just laid of for myself. Please bear with me as I try to narrow my focus so as to not explain all 2098439 angles and instead explain one truth I believe is most impactful:
Not all carbohydrates are created equal.
It’s important to distinguish between carbohydrates.
They don’t all “count” the same.
Especially if you are trying to monitor your carb intake, it’s imperative to consider the role of fiber.
<<<<< REWIND <<<<
Nutrition Science 101
Protein “counts” differently than fat or carbs.
Fat and carbs “count” differently from each other.
And carbs “count” differently within themselves.
A few weeks back, I had to bite my tongue while a friend of mine touted chocolate-covered almonds as being “actually not that bad for you.” She then went on to compare the amount of calories contained in these chocolate-covered almonds to the amount of calories contained in plain almonds.
- Not dissing chocolate-covered almonds. They are delicious. If the ingredients are high-quality, there are many nutritional benefits.
- “Actually not that bad for you” in what way? Are we just talking about caloric density?
- The macronutrient profile of chocolate-covered almonds versus that of plain almonds will reveal a difference in carbohydrate ratios.
Number 3 is key.
Let’s break it down.
Carbohydrates can either be sugars (simple carbs), starches (complex carbs), or fiber (including soluble and insoluble).
- Sugars are easily broken down, easily utilized. I think we all know about sugars. [I’m brushing over this because the glycemic index angle and the “sugar is the devil” angle have both been overplayed.]
- Starches are chains of single sugar units, which take a little more effort to digest.
- Fiber, on the other hand, “counts” as a carb but is indigestible.
Did you catch that?
Fiber “counts” as a carb, and you’ll see the grams and the calories show up on a nutrition label–BUT, your body won’t take energy from it.
Instead, your body uses the fiber to
expel waste poop.
That right there is why not all carbs are created equal.
That’s why a carb is not a carb.
One ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of carbohydrate (which translates to 24 calories on the nutrition label). However, half of the carbs come from fiber, meaning your body will only be able to utilize 12 of those carbohydrate-sourced calories.
Compare this to a 1-oz. serving of chocolate-covered almonds, which provides 12 grams of carbohydrate, with 9 of them from sugar and only 2 from fiber.
Plain almonds: 161 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g carbs, 6 g protein
Chocolate-covered almonds: 151 calories, 11 g fat, 12 g carbs, 3 g protein
SURPRISE: Chocolate-covered almonds are a lower calorie treat!
Even glycemic load and thermic effect aside, what we have here is a classic case of calorie quality. The calories in these two snacks are not the same.
So now to speak to the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) followers out there…
The truth of the matter is this: Monitoring caloric intake and macronutrient ratios works. Ultimately, I believe you will have success operating under this approach. But I also think you are out of your mind if you consider the 100 calories in a handful of Skittles to be equivalent to the 100 calories found in an apple. Your energy level, your health indicators, and your quality of
waste elimination poop do not consider them equivalent.
And since I feel weird leaving that previous sentence as my last…
Other benefits of fiber consumption include positive correlation with lower incidence of heart disease and some types of cancers, increased satiety value of foods, lowered blood cholesterol, and improved rate of digestion.
Finally, we’ve arrived to our customary 5-minute bodyweight workout!
2 min bear crawls
1 min jump squats
1 min push-ups
1 min bear crawls
*If you aren’t sore, you aren’t doing it right.
P.S. Caloric quality ties in pretty closely with hormone optimization. If you are looking to lose weight and/or function better (higher energy level, better sleep, enjoyable degree of libido), Pat’s got lots of solutions for you in his new Inner Circle, which currently features a Hormone Optimization Challenge!