Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Day 43 - Not all Calories are Created Equal

When we eat stuff, i.e. food, the chemical makeup of that stuff must be broken down into smaller chunks to be absorbed, transported and utilized by our bodies. This is not a passive process which means that we need energy to digest, or in other words, we require energy to produce energy. (Takes money to make money right?)

To assume that all calories are created equal is just silly. Carbohydrates are the easiest macronurtient to digest and therefore have the highest yield. Carbs, also known as sugar, is nature's form of jet fuel for our bodies. The problem is, our society seems to pack more and more and more sugar into everything, leading us to the point where we would never come close to burning off as much of that energy as we take in, leading to adipose tissue (body fat)...but that is a different blog topic altogether.

Anyways, carbs return about a 90-95% energy yield per calorie. What I mean by that is, for example, every 100 calories of carbs you take in, it requires 5-10 calories of energy to digest. 

Fats actually have a slightly higher energy yield than carbohydrates, ranging in the ballpark of 95-96%, but this should not be alarming as our diets require much less fat than carbs. What this means is that in 100 calories of fat, it takes about 4-5 calories to digest.

Protein has the lowest energy yield, which can actually be very beneficial for weight loss. Only about 70-80% of protein calories consumed are returned to the body when digesting proteins which isn't all that surprising as the body greatly prefers fats and carbs for energy whereas protein is mostly used for tissue repair. 

Regardless, proteins are highly recommended throughout the day for those looking to lose weight or are highly active. This is where a diet based on your lifestyle and activity level becomes most important. If you an extremely active person, you will want to take in more carbs so that you can sustain your energy levels.

On the other hand, if you are more sedentary, your primary fuel source for the day is going to mainly consist of fats, so carbs are not needed as much.

One of the biggest problems facing society today, is the overindulgence of carbs, with very little activity. The body stores extra "jet fuel" in the tank (body fat) for use later on...which never seems to happen.

Quote of the day:
"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
-Robert Collier