Breaking down calories

June 9, 2018 by From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

You see them counted on food labels and now on restaurant menus. But do you know what calories are?

Anya Guy, a Mayo Clinic dietitian, says calories are units of energy. And even though they are all technically the same, the effect they have on your body can differ depending on what kinds of you eat.

"A calorie is a unit of energy," Guy says. "It is calculated for various types of foods, more so in the categories of calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat."

She says calories are all technically the same.

"In the laws of science ... all calories are created equal, but our body breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat very differently," she says.

And, while 1,000 calories from a fast food burger and fries are technically the same as 1,000 calories from lean meats, fruits and vegetables, Guy says there are other health implications you should consider when picking which foods to eat.

"I recommend the majority of your calories come from unprocessed or minimally processed whole foods, since the quality of your calories can impact your weight and your overall health," Guys says.

She says everyone's calorie requirements are different. But getting 2,000 calories a day from lean chicken, whole grains, fruits and vegetables is going to keep you healthier than getting 2,000 a day from processed foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats.

Explore further: Does your diet contain empty calories?

5 shares

Related Stories

Does your diet contain empty calories?

January 31, 2018
Whether you count the calories you consume every day, it's important to recognize when you might be filling your body with junk food that provides no nutrients. And, as Jason Howland reports in this Mayo Clinic Minute, many ...

High-calorie foods fit for a diet

June 4, 2018
(HealthDay)—Not every food you eat has to be low-calorie when you want to lose weight.

Some great 50-calorie food choices

May 28, 2018
(HealthDay)—Tired of munching on carrot and celery sticks to stay on the diet track when your stomach starts growling?

Nuts have fewer calories than previously thought

March 22, 2018
Not all of nuts' calories are taken up by the human body; on some of them, the body gets a free pass, according to studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

The bad habits that lead to weight gain

April 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's no secret that weight gain results from consuming too many calories. But at its core is an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy habits.

Readjusting calorie consumption as you lose weight

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you find that your weekly weight loss is slowing down, maybe it's time to readjust your calorie intake.

Recommended for you

Children of problem drinkers more likely to marry someone with a drinking problem: study

December 18, 2018
Children of parents who have alcohol use disorder are more likely to get married under the age of 25, less likely to get married later in life, and more likely to marry a person who has alcohol use disorder themselves, according ...

A co-worker's rudeness can affect your sleep—and your partner's, study finds

December 14, 2018
Rudeness. Sarcastic comments. Demeaning language. Interrupting or talking over someone in a meeting. Workplace incivilities such as these are becoming increasingly common, and a new study from Portland State University and ...

Study shows magnesium optimizes vitamin D status

December 14, 2018
A randomized trial by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers indicates that magnesium optimizes vitamin D status, raising it in people with deficient levels and lowering it in people with high levels.

A holiday gift to primary care doctors: Proof of their time crunch

December 14, 2018
The average primary care doctor needs to work six more hours a day than they already do, in order to make sure their patients get all the preventive and early-detection care they want and deserve, a new study finds.

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.