As you stand in the grocery aisle and reach for your favorite “healthy grain” cereal… you flip the box over and look at the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates… you begin to wonder if 200 calories of cereal equals the same nutritional value found in 200 calories of scrambled eggs?
Are all calories the same?
We asked ourselves the same question. We wanted to know if eating more fat or protein created weight gain or actually supported weight loss.
Are all calories equal or could eating more of one type of macronutrient (fat) actually be healthier and give you a better metabolic advantage than eating starch or protein?
For at least 40 years the standard Western diet of eating low fat and healthy grains has been touted as the best way to eat. Eating six servings of grains a day is supposed to be good for you.
Instead, this diet of refined carbohydrates and added sugar has been linked to sudden cardiac death, diabetes, obesity, dementia, and even cancer. As it turns out all calories are not created equal. There’s a massive difference in how it will affect your ability to lose weight, your appetite, and your health.
A Perfect Tropical Diet from The Kitavans of Papua New Guinea
In 1989 one of the last populations on Earth that had dietary habits closest to our ancestors live on the island of Kitava one of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea.
The Malinowski study found that of the 23,000 people living on the island, there were no indications of heart disease.
So what are the Kitavan’s eating differently than the rest of us?
The Kitavan’s remain quite active and vital even into their late 80’s and 90’s. Their diet consists mainly of yam, sweet potato, taro, banana, pineapple, watermelon, tropical fruits, coconut, and fish.
Less than .2% of their diet came from: dairy, sugar, cereals, and alcohol. Their saturated fat consumption is high due to the large quantity of coconut in their daily diets.
However there were no indications of stroke, diabetes, dementia, or congestive heart failure found in the natives of Kitava. None of the inhabitants were overweight, none suffered from acne, or high blood pressure.
If you only focus on the total number of calories eaten over the macronutrients the differences between the Kitavan’s and our standard Western diet becomes obvious.
Are All Calories the Same? Comparing Fat and Protein to Refined Carbohydrates
When your body looks for energy to burn, it will always use carbohydrates first for energy. The carbohydrate calorie is converted to glucose.
It’s then processed by the liver to be used for fuel. If there’s an excess of glucose not used then that energy is stored and turned into fat by the body.
Now, your body can also use fat for energy instead of glucose. If you eat mainly fats your body will start to use its fats store as energy. As your body gets used to burning fat for energy it will start to use body fat and this creates weight loss. Scratching your head yet? Hang on it gets better…
Should you eat more protein as well? Protein helps retain muscle, but the myth of eating high protein to build muscle needs to be more closely examined.
If you eat too much protein then the body converts the excess protein to glucose – which it then stored as fat. But, you’d have to eat large amounts of protein at every meal to trigger this bodily process. Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or up to 40% of your total calories.
Eating Fat to Burn Fat
Fat is used by the body to provide nutrients and aid the absorption of vitamins A,D,E, and K. It provides essential fatty acids that helps in proper cell renewal and function.
So while fat may get a bad rap, your body will run optimally on a higher fatty diet.
By eating carbohydrates, the most rapid source of energy for your body – your body never has a chance to access stored fat to use it as fuel. That’s why we continue to get fatter from eating refined grains and sugars.
So what should you eat since all calories are not the same?
- Juice, sport drinks, HFCS, honey, and agave
- Grains, breads, cereals, and pasta
- Soy, corn, and canola
- Synthetic sweeteners, MSG, and artificial dyes
- Grass fed meat (beef, bison, and buffalo)
- Organic or wild fish, seafood, chicken, pork, and eggs
- Coconut products: Coconut flour (in moderation), coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut water
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Fresh herbs and spices
- Dairy, go for grass fed butter, cream or cheese, avoid low-fat dairy
Weight loss depends on the quality of the calories eaten as well the total amount. You don’t need to be vegetarian, limit fat, or eat Frankenfoods like Tofutti ice cream to lose weight. Eat more fat and enjoy your food!