Are All Calories Equal?

In a word, no.

Let’s use the image above as the working example.

A big Mac is roughly 550 Cals, the brown rice and chicken dinner roughly the same, yet their macro composition is different.

The Big Mac is

  • high in fat (mainly from the sauce and non lean beef)
  • moderate carbs (in the form of simple carbs from flour in the bun)
  • moderate protein from the beef.

The chicken and rice dinner is

  • high in carbs (complex carbs in the form of slower digesting brown rice and asparagus)
  • moderate in protein
  • low in fat.

They have the same amount of Cals but the body will process each differently.

The most obvious difference between the 2 would be their level on the glycemic index, the flour in the bun from the Big Mac would digest a lot quicker than the rice therefore it would cause blood sugar levels to rise quicker which is what you don’t want.

Another contributing factor would be the sugar in the sauce of the Big Mac.

Aside from that the high fat content of the big mac (roughly 50% of your daily intake) would also contribute greatly towards the impact it has on your body.

Dietary Fat converts most easily into body fat when compared to carbs and protein, with carbs following and protein taking the most effort from your body to convert into fat.

This is why some people suggest a higher protein diet which is lower in carbs and fat.

Now for a one off meal this might not seem like a big deal but if you are eating meals throughout the day, throughout the month which are not balanced, leaning towards high in fat or simple carbs, your body is going to store more fat than it would if your diet was to consist of balanced meals, in which your body uses the energy from more efficiently.

Another important factor in how your body utilises energy is the timing of your meals, which I will get into in a following post.