Counting calories is a part of any successful weight loss regimen. It is not enough to just count calories, as their quality also matters. Choosing good calories over bad calories is necessary if you are to lose the weight and keep it off. Here are some things you should know about good and bad calories that will help you make healthy food choices.
Good Calories vs. Bad Calories
Good calories are those that provide an adequate ratio of calorie count to nutritional value. Foods containing loads of good calories will provide plenty of lean protein and healthy fats, along with many essential vitamins and minerals. Ones that are high in fiber and micronutrients are considered to be full of good calories as well. Bad calories on the other hand come from refined flours and sugars, artificial ingredients, and unhealthy fats. Foods containing these ingredients are typically high in calories, yet provide little nutritional value.
Why are Bad Calories so Bad?
Bad calories wreak double havoc on your weight loss efforts, because they contain ingredients that are difficult for your body to process. In addition to slowing your metabolism, ingredients such as refined sugars can negatively affect the hormones in your body that regulate hunger, fat metabolism, and weight loss in general. Because of this, so-called “bad calories” are often said to count twice. In other words, a 2,000-calorie per day diet containing bad calories might actually cause you to gain weight, while a 2,000-calorie per day diet that is full of good calories would help you to shed pounds.
The Role of Carbohydrates
When it comes to weight loss, another common misconception is that all carbohydrates are the same. The fact is that simple carbohydrates contain only one or two sugars, making it easier for the body to break them down. Complex carbohydrates are more difficult for your body to break down; however, they also provide you with a higher content of vitamins and minerals. As such, you should include both simple and complex carbohydrates in your diet to ensure you are getting the proper balance. Both types will provide you with approximately four calories per gram.
How Important are Healthy Fats?
Not all foods containing fat should be labeled as bad calorie foods. Fat provides you with nine calories per gram, and is necessary in order to help you absorb Vitamins A, D, E, and K. For optimum weight loss, include plenty of foods that are high in unsaturated fats such as salmon and nut butters, and avoid the unsaturated fats found in whole milk and butter. Use olive oil rather than butter whenever cooking, but even then be sure you do so sparingly.
The best way to ensure you are taking in more good calories than bad is to choose single-ingredient foods whenever possible. Aside from that, you should avoid highly-processed foods and instead stick with lean meats, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables to provide you with adequate energy and Nutrition.