Do Calories Really Matter?

September 22, 2017

Do Calories Really Matter?

Yes - is the simple way to put it. But, that is not the right question to ask. What is more important is - What is the impact of calories on my body?

Calories are…

A calorie is a unit of energy, essential for human body and health. Our body needs calories to survive, and without energy our cells would die. The key is taking in consuming the right amount of calories and from the right sources. Each one of us requires a different amount of energy per day depending on our age, size, gender, activity level and goal.


All foods have a set of calories from the 3 main components:

• 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
• 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
• 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

This is why it matters where your calories come from. Although 500 calories from chips, crips or chocolate (mostly from fat / carbohydrates) and 500 calories delivered from vegetables, fruits and legumes (little healthy fat, carbohydrates / protein) are always going to be the same amount of 500 calories.

The difference here is WHERE the calories come from and WHAT nutritional value they have to offer you. Junk food calories are called = 'Empty calories', these are foods high in energy but very low in nutritional value.

Soft Drink  vs. Broccoli

Let’s imagine - that we consume 750 calories from soft drink and 750 calories of broccoli. Once the calories enter our body the soft drink is 100% sugar containing around 186 grams (46 teaspoons) of sugar per the 750 calories amount. This type of sugar is very quickly absorbed due to the drink not offering any fiber based sugars (glucose/ fructose). Glucose then spikes up your blood sugar, which increases storage of belly (and general) fat, increases inflammation, raises blood pressure, lowers testosterone in men, and contributes to infertility in women.

So yes, we would personally chose the broccoli!

Looking at the 750 calories from broccoli (thats around 21cups), these calories are made up mainly from carbohydrates and contain 67 grams of fiber. This is around 23% protein, 9% fat, and 68% carbohydrate. First of all, you’d never be able to eat 21 cups of broccoli in one go, because it simply wouldn’t fit into your belly. Either way a very few of the calories would actually get absorbed, and if they did they would get absorbed slowly as opposed to those from the soft drink - no blood sugar or insulin spike, and no storage of accessed fat.

From this example we can see that all calories are not created nor digested equally. Some calories can be addictive, others healing, some can be stored as fat, while some can boost the metabolism.

So let’s not sugar coat it - rather than looking at calories, what you really want to focus on are nutritional values of food in order to improve your health and general wellbeing.

Our Tip

  • Instead of counting your calories, try to include 1-2 vegetables with every meal, as well as some protein (lean meats, legumes).
  • Decrease the grains and starches to a minimum, and try to eat mindfully.
  • When you feel hungry, reach out for vegetables and protein as a snack.

We eat is just as important as when we eat - so we recommend to start the day with a good size - complex carbohydrates and protein filled breakfast with a little bit of healthy fat to keep you fuller for longer for a good day’s start (try almond butter and banana on toast, porridge oats with fruit and nuts, eggs with avocado, etc.). Having a high energetic dinner will not only be working your body overnight and give you an uncomfortable sleep but it more likely to be stored as fat as your body simply won't be able to use this energy up while sleeping.

If we would consume the right number of calories we need each day, we will probably enjoy happy and healthy lives. If our calorie intake is either too low or too high, we will eventually experience some health problems.

Point to Remember

Not everyone needs the same amount of calories. A person’s calorie intake should depend on several factors:

  • general health
  • physical activity
  • gender
  • weight and height
  • goal (weight / fat loss, weight gain)

You can watch a little video on 'What is a calorie' below:


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