“Eating too many calories, despite their source, will lead to weight gain,” Miller explained. “Eating fewer calories than the body burns throughout the day will lead to weight loss. The goal for weight maintenance is for the calories ‘in’ to equal the calories ‘out.' With that being said, the source of calories can significantly impact your blood sugar levels, energy, heart health, digestive system, immune system, appetite, mood—the list is extensive." For this reason, she said, not all calories can be considered equal.
“Calories from protein help promote satiety, which is why it is recommended to have about 25 grams of protein per meal,” Miller explained. “Look for lean sources so that you get the protein without excess calories. Calories supplied by whole grains, fruits and vegetables offer a slew of health benefits, the first of which is improved digestion and blood sugar regulation from dietary fiber intake. Dietary fiber also helps keep us full and satisfied, which may lead to a reduced intake of calories throughout the day if consumed in adequate amounts—aim for 25 to 35 grams per day.”
When it comes to comparing calories keep the following in mind: “Vitamins and minerals are supplied extensively through fruits and vegetables. They help support a healthy body. Whether it’s the immune, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, endocrine, neurological, or integumentary (i.e. skin), vitamins and minerals keep your body at its best,” Miller said. “Fruits and vegetables are also naturally low in sodium, fat and calories, making them an even better option for acquiring nutrition.
“Calories supplied by processed meats, fried foods, high-fat meats, sugary drinks, high-fat and high-sugar sweets, and other non-nutritive foods cause calories to add up fast with little to no nutritional benefit. In addition to being void of vitamins, minerals and fiber, many of these foods, if consumed regularly, can lead to cardiovascular complications, diabetes, and weight gain or obesity. It’s easy to gain weight and throw blood sugar levels out of whack when these types of foods are consumed in large portions on a regular basis. So look for calories that supply your body with healthful nutrients. You’ll have more energy, better health and a smaller waistline.”