Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Is a Calorie Just a Calorie? Food Quality and Weight Loss

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

processed foods, calories, nutritionFor many years statements like “a calorie is a calorie” and “everything in moderation” were uttered by many health professionals to explain that in regard to weight loss, controlling total calories consumed is the most important factor. That is to say, it does not matter what you eat; whether it be a salad or a fried chicken leg, as long as your total calories remain below a certain number, you will lose unwanted pounds.

Research now suggests that this is not necessarily true. All calories are not equal, and the source of calories does much to help or hinder our weight loss efforts.

Data from a study that surveyed 122,000 men and women for 20 years found that more significant weight gain was linked to the consumption of potatoes (chips, baked, fried, or mashed), sugar-containing soft drinks, butter, refined grains, desserts, processed red meats, and fruit juices. In fact “a single-serving bag of potato chips added to one’s daily intake tacked on 1.69 pounds over 4 years.” Additionally, the study participants who experienced weight loss reportedly ate more yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.  The reason for this is simple...the body uses more energy to break down nutrient dense foods than it does to metabolize processed items.

It is becoming more and more apparent that what we eat is just as important as how much we eat. What can you do to help your employees make the most nutritious food choices? Adding healthy vending options and cafeteria discounts on fresh fruits and vegetables is one option. Implementing a well-rounded workplace wellness program can be a great resource for educating your employees about making the best choices when it comes to mealtime and incorporating exercise for weight loss and preventing weight gain.

Topics: weight loss calories weight control