If a calorie is just a calorie…
Then all calories calories are calories and the body uses them the same way right?
Yes and No…
True calories are just calories and the body processes them so that they all eventually meet the same fate, but there is, in my opinion, a big difference between energy dense and nutrient dense foods.
Some will disagree, but I’ve never seen anyone gain excessive amounts of weight by eating most of their calories from whole food sources.
That’s not saying it’s not possible to gain an excessive amount of weight that way, it’s just much harder because of the sheer volume of food you would have to eat to create a surplus isn’t easy.
Okay, perhaps scoffing down 7 bags of nuts & dried fruit will provide enough calories to do that but who eats nuts that excessively? Even so, you would get to the point of feeling sick because you simply couldn’t eat anymore. It’s also worth remembering that when people who eat ‘clean’ do tend to gain fat for some ‘mysterious’ reason it’s because they are doing one of two things:
1 – The are secret eaters and binge on energy dense highly processed foods when no one is looking.
2 – Their ‘healthy’ snacks consist of dried fruits, mixed/coated nuts, and smoothies (While not terrible in terms of their quality they are the rare whole food exceptions that allow you to eat excessive amounts).
This then leads to the debate of energy balance.
In short, if your calories in match your calories out then you will be in ‘balance’ and thus stay the same weight, where as being in a positive will lead to weight gain or a negative for weight loss.
Again yes & no…
In real world terms you can technically eat what you want to some degree and either lose fat or maintain your weight, but it will come at a cost… You are more likely to have a negative impact on your health from poor food choices, regardless of being in energy balance or not, this is fact.
Look at the history books and you will see the correlation between the availability of more ‘convenient’ foods and an increase in illness/health degradation.
This is where taking a realist approach of 80/20 (mostly whole nutritious foods with a little of what you fancy) will help you maintain not only energy balance, but more importantly PSYCHOLOGICAL balance.
Psychological balance is the hard part, this is why people struggle, but that’s a post for another day.
What are your daily calories or TDEE?
We can’t tell you, hell, we can only really give you equations that will estimate where you are. Therefore we advice you speak specifically to a nutritional coach and have them help you work out what you need.
If you can’t afford a coach then our suggestion would be to use the Modified Harris-Benedict Basal Metabolic Rate Equation, you can use this link below to help you: