The 7 biggest myths about calories

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You might think you know all about calories. Many people have counted, cut, and added them up for most of their lives. But when it comes to losing weight, there is still a lot of confusion about counting calories. It turns out that many of the most common beliefs on the subject are actually just myths. Here are seven of the most enduring calorie counting myths, plus the facts, straight from the experts.

1. All calories are created equal

Many people believe that as long as they stick to a certain number of calories per day, they are eating healthy. This myth can hinder a balanced and nutritious diet. “You can’t compare 100 calories of salmon to 100 calories of soda,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, former director of nutrition at Good Housekeeping, who is based in New York.

She points out that salmon are packed with beneficial nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and protein – one of the reasons why the The American Heart Association recommends eat it twice a week – it works really hard to nourish your body. “With soda, it’s the opposite – those calories work against you,” she says. Not only do they lack nutrition, they are also high in sugar, and their consumption has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. past research shows. “It’s a complete mistake to think that all calories are the same,” says Cassetty.

2. Celery has negative calories

With only about 9 calories per stem, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it’s obvious how this myth started. It’s easy to imagine that chewing celery “washes out” enough of those calories to push food into negative calorie territory. “It’s an idea from another era,” says Cassetty.

Cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, and other water-rich vegetables are also sometimes considered negative calorie foods, but just like celery, it’s nothing more than a myth. “There are no negative calorie foods,” says Cassetty.

Related: What is the CICO diet and can it really help you lose weight?

3. Calorie labels are 100 percent accurate

What you see is not necessarily what you get when it comes to the calorie information on nutrition labels. “There is wiggle room for manufacturers,” says Cassetty. In fact, by law, food manufacturers can be up to 20 percent below the mark with this number, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that a product you eat that you think has 200 calories can actually contain up to 240 calories. A study published in the journal Obesity studied the accuracy of nutrition labels andfound that prepackaged ready meals contained an average of 8% more calories than their labels claimed. It can add up.

4. If you cut 3,500 calories, you will lose 1 pound

It’s an oversimplification of the science of calories, and hardly the way weight loss works in real life, according to Cassetty. “Overall body size, genetics, sleep, and stress can all complicate this general rule,” she says. As a body loses weight, the amount of calories it needs to maintain that weight decreases.

Calculations of 3,500 calories to one pound just don’t take that into account. According to a article in Today’s dietitian. Carson C. Chow, PhD, principal investigator in the Mathematical Biology section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is quoted in the article explaining: “Every 10 calorie per day decrease in calorie intake leads to an eventual loss of ‘a book. , but it can take three years to get there. “(You can consult the National Institutes of Health’s Body weight planner tool to try out this new math for yourself.) This rule of thumb is not as appealing to dieters as the 3,500 calorie rule, but it is more precise.

Related: The 16 Best Apps For Weight Loss: Diet Plan Tools, Fitness Trackers & More

5. Your body absorbs all the calories from a food

There is a difference between the number of calories that a given food contains and the number of calories that your specific body absorbs from that food. The number of calories you can assimilate may vary depending on the makeup of your gut microbiome, depending on research, among others. In other previous study, Harvard researchers even found that the number of calories can vary between raw and cooked foods. And then there is the fiber effect. Because your body doesn’t absorb fiber (it’s the indigestible part of plants), the amount of a food can also affect the calories you actually get. A small study involving 18 people, which was Posted in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have found that almonds contain more calories than they provide in a person’s diet. Almonds, in particular, are a source of prebiotic fiber, which we don’t absorb, according to Previous search.

Related: I Tried Noom For Weight Loss – And It Worked

6. The “calories burned” display on your treadmill or physical activity monitor is accurate

Many calorie counters live and die off the “calories burned” readings on their exercise equipment and fitness trackers. It’s very common for people to decide to eat an extra snack or have dessert based on a number provided by their device, Cassetty says. But one Stanford University study published in May 2017 in the Personalized Medicine Journal found that wearable fitness trackers are generally down 27%. “It’s a substantial amount. If you overestimate your calories burned so much, it can not only make it impossible to lose weight, but also lead to weight gain, ”she says.

“People don’t realize that by exercising they are subconsciously decreasing other energies expended throughout the day,” says Cassetty. Previous search supports the idea that after exercise, people can move less, stand less, or climb stairs less often. The body is always compensating, making small adjustments to keep the energy balance below the level of your consciousness. “It’s not necessarily something you can control,” says Cassetty.

“People do a really bad job of estimating how many calories they’re eating, and then they have an inflated idea of ​​how many calories they’ve burned with these devices,” says Cassetty. “You can really find yourself on the wrong side of this equation.”

7. Counting calories is essential for weight loss

Can Calorie Counting Be A Helpful Guide To Weight Loss? Sure. But you don’t have to feel like you’ll never lose extra pounds if you can’t commit to tracking every calorie, especially when research suggests otherwise. A study published in September 2017 in Perspectives on Psychological Science concluded that reducing calorie intake may not be the golden ticket to weight loss that people assume it will be.

And one study published in February 2018 in JAMA have found that other dietary changes, such as eliminating processed foods, can be just as effective for weight loss. Notably, the study was designed to determine whether a low-carb or low-fat diet was better for weight loss. Neither group counted calories, but received nutritional counseling. Both groups lost roughly the same amount of weight and what they had in common was a diet of whole natural foods, not processed foods. So count, or don’t count, but know that the best approach is the one that works for you.


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