Emphasize Calorie Quality Over Quantity
Focus On What You Are Eating, Rather Than How Much.
Although there is heavy focus on counting calories in regards to weight loss or preventing obesity, it is important to also focus on what you are eating. Calories are units of energy. Consuming too many calories will result in weight gain, and eating too few will result in weight loss. But does it matter where the calories come from? It turns out that it does.
Not all calories are the same. There are “nutrient-dense” calories and “empty calories.” Empty calories are foods that have high calorie-density. This includes foods high in sugar such as soft drinks, energy drinks, candy, ice cream, etc. and solid fats such as pizza, cheese, sausage, fatty meats, and butter. The quality of the calories we consume is what influences our weight and how we feel in the long run. Consuming empty calories can contribute to weight gain because the body holds on to fat in the absence of nutritionally dense food.
This is why it is important to emphasize the quality of the food we are consuming, rather than just the quantity of calories. You could be consuming the same amount of calories by eating nutrient-dense whole foods such as vegetables or empty calorie foods like pizza and ice cream that have limited nutritional value. Examples of low-calorie-dense foods that are nutrient-dense include:
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Good fats such as avocados
- Lean animal proteins such as fish