Updated: Jun 12, 2020
Over the years, we’ve been led to believe that “a calorie is a calorie”. That weight loss is simply a math equation. A matter of calories in vs. calories out. Eat less and move more.
But does a calorie of coconut oil cause the same metabolic response as a calorie of sugar? The simple answer is: no. There are plenty of differences between the two. Sugar will increase blood sugar levels and generate insulin secretion from the pancreas. Coconut oil, on the other hand, will not. When coconut oil is absorbed in the small intestine and transferred to the liver, there is no significant rise in blood glucose or insulin. The two foods have drastically different hormonal and metabolic bodily responses. This is why it is critical to understand quality (the source of food) versus quantity (how many calories it contains).
It is important to note that up to 50 percent of your individual calorie burn is related to processes in the body that cannot be readily tracked. Processes such as room temperature, sleep, altitude, and breath rate.
The calories we consume daily all play vital roles in our bodies. Calories don’t just provide us with the physical energy we need to work out and exercise. They are also responsible for the following among other things:
Bone, protein, and muscle production
Kidney and liver detoxification
Excretion of toxic waste (bowels)
Given that our caloric intake is responsible for all of the above, how could we possibly have complete control of what or where our caloric intake is going towards? Much of these processes occur subconsciously and are beyond our control. If we don’t intake enough calories on any given day, our bodies will simply cut back on its duties and create a host of problems. A sudden reduction of calories-in causes a similar reduction in calories-out and the body will balance its energy budget.
To further this notion, understand the following:
Calories are needed to heat the body. If fewer calories are available, body heat will be reduced resulting in feeling cold more often.
Calories are needed for the brain to function. If fewer calories are available, cognition will be reduced and one will find it difficult to concentrate on tasks.
Calories are needed to physically move the body. If fewer calories are available, one will find themselves more lethargic and weak during physical activity, and movement will be limited.
Calories are needed for hair and nail growth, repair, and strength.
If fewer calories are available, brittle nails and hair loss may occur.
This is how your body naturally reacts – by reducing its energy expenditure. This is because the body is smart and will work itself for survival. It will shut down to preserve itself. The body’s energy budget must be balanced. How our bodies store fat is more a matter of how our hormones are functioning and communicating rather than how many calories are being taken in and are being expended on a daily basis.
Rather than putting the central focus on calories, our diet’s focus should be to fuel and nourish our mind and body. This includes our brain, which requires adequate caloric intake for cognition and focus. Is it any coincidence that we get tired and lose motivation when we try to eat less and exercise more? It’s not that calories don’t matter. They certainly do. But in order to stay in control and respect our biology, it’s essential to consume enough of the right calories and avoid ones that create metabolic and hormonal chaos within.