Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Do Calories Count?

Nutrition can be very confusing! One person may say the Paleo diet is best, while another says low-carb is the only way. You surf the web and talk to friends about which diet is best and everyone has a different opinion. You hear words like "macronutrients," "grams," or "metabolism," and after a while you begin to get lost in the maze of nutrition! You begin to wonder if food groups or diets even matter. After all, a calorie is just a calorie - Right?

Let's try to settle this nutrition debate once and for all: Is a calorie just a calorie?
The answer: Maybe. It depends on your goal.

If you have more than 30 pounds to lose, then it is likely just about calories - at least for now! It's often best to start by simply cutting back on the amount you eat rather than making your diet too complicated. This is especially true if you want to lose a significant amount of weight or if you are just getting started. See what results you get first by just eating less before you get too picky about your diets.

If you only have a few pounds to lose, then it may be more than just calories. The closer you get to your weight goal the more detailed your diet may need to become. This is especially true if you are working to build muscle and lower your body fat rather than losing actual weight. You also may need to get more specific with your diet if you're not seeing any results after several months, or if you have a specific health condition that is affected by your diet, like diabetes.

The Take Away Message: When it comes to your weight, in the end calories are what matter! Too many calories from anything (yes, even fruit) can cause someone to gain weight. The QUALITY of your diet still matters though. The 50 calories from a Honey Bun are a lot different than 50 calories from an orange! Even if you start by just focusing on calories, aim to eat healthier foods that provide important vitamins and minerals (like an orange). It's also a lot easier to eat fewer calories when eating healthy. For example, the calories of one Honey Bun are equal to the same calories of 7½ oranges, but I bet you're not going to eat 7½ oranges for breakfast today! You may be planning for one Honey Bun though? So remember, a calorie may be just a calorie but make the most of them by eating healthy!

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