Do you usually look at the calories of a food to see if it makes you fat or not? Read on to learn more about excess calories in your diet and how they are stored.
Until a few years ago, the energy value of food and the belief that calories turn into fat were the focus of attention in weight loss diets. Energy balance was almost the only parameter to be evaluated.
Today, this is not the only aspect that must be considered. The type of food we eat, the primary nutrients they provide us, how our hormonal system responds, or the time we spend between meals are other aspects that also significantly impact our body composition.
What Are Calories, And What Happens When We Overdo It?
Calories are a measurement we use to evaluate the energy a food provides us. Calories give the body the fuel to perform vital functions and create structures.
After food is digested, different cells release and use the energy it contains. The energy that is not used at that moment is stored for later use:
Our body’s first energy store is the muscles and liver, which store energy through glycogen.
The other energy reserves are adipocytes or fat cells, in which the energy we do not use accumulates in lipid form.
This is why we say calories turn into fat because when we exceed our body’s immediate needs, the excess energy is stored in fat.
Far Beyond Calories: Other Aspects To Keep In Mind
Calories are one of the determining factors when it comes to diet and weight gain or loss. In reality, what we assess is that consumption and expenses are balanced. However, other aspects also come into play and are related. Among them, we find the following:
Nutritional Composition Of Foods
Calories do not work in the body similarly if they come from different macronutrients. For example, proteins have a greater satiating capacity and thermogenic effect than fats and carbohydrates.
On the other hand, specific metabolic pathways are activated depending on the general composition of our daily diet. This also affects how we metabolize calories and how they become fat.
Final Calories That End Up Absorbed
We must remember that sometimes, we do not absorb the total energy that food provides. Some factors influence this aspect, such as the food’s type of cooking and the state of our intestinal flora.
Calories give us energy, but how we process and use hormones regulates all that energy. Any influence on our hormonal system will eventually change how we use and store calories.
The Satiating Effect Of Food
Not all foods satisfy us in the same way. A meal’s predominant nutrient or preparation will make us feel more or less satiated.
When the stomach is complete, it sends signals to the brain that make it understand that we should not eat anymore. Therefore, the total calories consumed should be approximately the same at the end of each meal.
Calories Turn Into Fat: A Question Of Quality
When we want to tackle a weight loss diet or gain weight, we look almost exclusively at the amount of calories we eat. Although this may be necessary on these specific occasions, we cannot forget the quality of the calories.
The exact amount of calories will not have the same effect on our body, whether from one type of food or another. It is essential to evaluate the types of foods that are part of the diet. Today, we know that highly processed foods are directly related to:
- Increased risk of obesity.
- High blood pressure.
- Metabolic problems
- High LDL cholesterol, among others.
Therefore, it is advisable to maintain an adequate dietary pattern in which fresh and unprocessed foods predominate, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, eggs, etc. In addition, we should very occasionally consume processed dishes, snacks, cookies, and sweets.
If we base our diet on foods from the first group, their impact on metabolism, satiety, or thermic effect will be much more balanced than if we eat more foods from the second. This way, excess calories won’t become fat as quickly. In the long term, this will bring benefits to our health.
Also Read: Risks Of Using Laxatives For Weight Loss