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do you think a calorie is just a calorie?

the post about the PINK diet below and saying it had a shake for breakfast made me think.  I know a calorie is a calorie when it comes to weight loss/gain (if you could eat 10,000 calories of fruits & veggies you'd gain just as much weight as eating 10,000 calories of junk).

But would drinking a 500 calorie shake keep you feeling as full as long as 500 calories of solid food would?

Re: do you think a calorie is just a calorie?

  • it depends what's in it, but shakes/smooothies are notorious for tricking people into thinking they're healthy when they are a diet sabotage
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  • Hmm, interesting question.

    In terms of my body's math, I suspect that a calorie is a calorie - in other words, if I eat 500 calories of oreos or 500 calories of grapes, either way, my body is dealing with 500 calories. One of those things is full of chemical crap and the other is full of fruit sugars and natural things, but they're still 500 calories.

    On the other hand, some calories come packaged in stuff that helps me feel full longer and work better for me for weight loss. For example, I do really well if I have an egg for breakfast. If I have the same number of calories of cheerios, I'm starving by 10:00 and ready to eat my children.

    The math is the same for weight loss, but the way I react to them is not.

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  • image Julia-Henry:

    The math is the same for weight loss, but the way I react to them is not.

    This.  And I've heard (and experienced) that shakes do not keep you feeling full nearly as long as regular food.  I think it probably has to do with the fluid content being absorbed faster, so your stomach is emptier sooner than with solid food.

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  • image GnomeSweetGnome:
    image Julia-Henry:

    The math is the same for weight loss, but the way I react to them is not.

    This.  And I've heard (and experienced) that shakes do not keep you feeling full nearly as long as regular food.  I think it probably has to do with the fluid content being absorbed faster, so your stomach is emptier sooner than with solid food.

    I tried having smoothies for breakfast for a while.  They were about 400 calories and full of protein.  The result?  I was hungry by 9:30, and I peed every 20 minutes for 3 hours.  Awful.

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  • No. Not all calories are created equal. Shakes don't even keep me full, I consider them a snack at most.
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  • image mrsredrox:
    No. Not all calories are created equal. 

    absolutely. The one man Twinkie dieter excluded, more and more research is proving that the body handles different foods in different ways. 300 calories of nutrient, fiber rich whole grains are not used in the same way 300 calories of table sugar are.

    and I don't find shakes filling at all. I agree with whoever said it's because they're liquid and leave the stomach faster than solids. They're also lacking fat, and sometimes protein, two things necessary for satiety.  

  • It's not that simple. Gary Taubes has two great books that cover this: Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. They both cover the same subject matter but Why We Get Fat is a little easier to read and slightly less technical. It's fascinating how the body handles particular foods and how foods and hormones (insulin, leptin, etc) repsond to foods and signal the body to do particular things. Three hundred calories of crap food or smoothies don't "keep you full" because of the insulin response and corresponding cascade of things set off by it in your body which trigger hunger.
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  • I think a calorie count is merely a maximum measure of how much energy can be derived from a food.

    Even the healthiest human is not 100% efficient at converting food to energy. Think about how many variables exist from one person to the next: efficacy of chewing, different levels of stomach acid and enzymes available to break food down, different makeup of the gut microbiome, varying transport times through the digestive tract, condition of the interface between our gut and bloodstream, etc. Even in one individual these conditions can vary from day to day and over the years.

    That's not even adding in different foods to the equation. You can imagine some things are easier to digest than others. A smoothie, for example, is already pulverized to a liquid state, so you skip chewing and all of the time and resources it would have taken to do the breakdown by your mouth and stomach.

    Finally, our bodies react differently to the macro- and micro-nutrient content of the foods we eat. Like a PP mentioned, different foods trigger the release of different hormone levels which regulate things like appetite/satiety and fat storage: insulin, leptin, ghrelin, neuropeptide Y and others.

    Our bodies' main mission seems to be weight stability. Most weight stable people are not counting calories, points or tracking anything at all - their diets  fluctuate as a measure of calories - yet weight stays the same. There's a lot more to fat loss than just calculating 3500 cals = 1lb or whatever. 

  • image mrsredrox:
    No. Not all calories are created equal.

    No, calories are equal because it's a measurement unit for the energy provided by the food not some ingredient or component of food.  Just like an oz, pound, liter, gallon measures quantity, calories measure the energy that comes from food.  What you mean to say is the source of calories has different effects on the body and the body responds differently to the different sources of energy.

  • image Julia-Henry:

    The math is the same for weight loss, but the way I react to them is not.

    This.  A calorie is just a calorie as far as it's a unit of energy, but the way my body feels with different food can very a lot.  If you've ever done WW I think you learn this pretty quick, not all points are created equal.  I actually have been drinking smoothies for breakfast for months now and I find that it works for me when I keep it on my desk (I bring it to work in the am) and drink slowly.  I'm usually sipping on that thing for a good 2 hours and most days I don't snack between that and lunch and I'm fine.  If I slurp it down fast I will get hungry.  But the days I really have a hard time is when I have any sort of carb for breakfast, than I'm usually ravenous an hour or 2 later.  My smoothie today has 1/2 cup almond milk, a cup of chobani FF yogurt, a banana and half a cup of blueberries in it.  I feel like if I ate all those things individually it would actually make me feel more full/satisfied than drinking it blended, for what it's worth.  But the smoothie works for me.

  • image Mrs Manners:
    It's not that simple. Gary Taubes has two great books that cover this: Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. They both cover the same subject matter but Why We Get Fat is a little easier to read and slightly less technical. It's fascinating how the body handles particular foods and how foods and hormones (insulin, leptin, etc) repsond to foods and signal the body to do particular things. Three hundred calories of crap food or smoothies don't "keep you full" because of the insulin response and corresponding cascade of things set off by it in your body which trigger hunger.

    Read the whole book. It explained so much...

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  • a calorie is just a calorie for weight loss BUT not for health.

    I know plenty of people who are slab skinny.  Ie- wear size 0 or 2 and look great in clothes, but would not be caught dead in a bathing suit, because they have no tone and cellulite everywhere.   You can eat a donunt for breakfast, 5 cups of black coffee, a bag or doritos for lunch, more black coffee, and a taco bell burrito for dinner with water and be skinny... but you might have  heart attack at 40.

     

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