All Calories Are Not Equal In Menopause

You’ve heard it a hundred times: Burn more calories than you eat, and you’ll lose weight. Sounds easy enough.

But have you considered if 100 calories from chocolate chip cookies equals 100 calories from apples? What about 100 calories in a soda versus 100 calories of broccoli?

You’ve found out the hard way that calories are only equal on paper. It’s a different story when they hit your hips. Without knowing how or why, you do know 100 calories of broccoli isn’t going to cause love handles like a soda will.

As a complex machine, your body processes various types of calories differently. What it does with a cup of broccoli is not the same as what it does with a cup of chocolate chips. Just ask your thighs!

Now that you’ve reached menopause, weight is a bigger challenge than ever. It’s even more frustrating when you have to cope with so many annoying symptoms of menopause. Before you give up, here are some tidbits about food and calories that might give you the edge you need.

When it comes to food, skip the white stuff.

When it comes to diet, white is bad. That means flour, sugar, potatoes, and all the good stuff made out of those ingredients like cookies, crackers, bread, cereal, and potato chips. You know, all those snacks you reach for when you want some comfort food. Your body isn’t going to burn those calories like it would green leafy vegetables, cheese, and meat. Why? All that white stuff causes a spike in insulin and sends out a message to store fat. Yikes!

It also goes through your digestive system quickly, leaving you hungry again in just a short time. So not only is your body trying to store fat you don’t need, you may eat more to satisfy your hunger, causing you to pack on even more unwanted pounds.

Not all food calories become part of your body.

Some of the calories in protein and high fiber foods are burned up or excreted during digestion. That means not all of their calories make it into your body. With those foods, 100 calories in doesn’t mean 100 used. On the other hand, when it comes to fat and carbs, almost all of the calories survive the digestive process so 100 calories in means just that — 100 calories in your body.

There’s more good news about protein and fiber. Unlike carbs, it keeps you feeling full longer. You’re less likely to overeat or graze between meals if you fill up on foods high in fiber and protein.

When it comes to sugar, fructose and glucose are not equal either.

Fructose and glucose may appear identical calorie-wise. They even share the same chemical formula. Yet, how your body metabolizes them is quite different. Fructose causes your body to create and store fat. Although it can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables, fructose also causes more cellular damage than glucose. Because of the different chemical reactions, your body may crave more fructose than glucose.

You’ll gain weight from eating too much of either type of sugar, but belly fat, which can be a risk factor for stroke and heart attack, is more common with fructose. And while fructose has a low impact on blood glucose levels, glucose is know to raise blood sugar levels.

If they aren’t equal, is it worth counting calories?

Since all calories are not equal once consumed, you might think it’s not important to count them. But think again. Knowing how many calories are in your meals helps you be aware of what you are eating so you can keep your calorie intake at a healthy range. And remember, even if you choose better foods, a diet of 5000 calories is going to cause obesity if you aren’t a supreme athlete who is burning excessive calories. Similarly, a 1500 calorie diet made up of candy bars and potato chips isn’t healthy either.

When it comes to counting calories, remember to pay attention to where they are coming from. Keep in mind that 500 calories of ice cream does not equal 500 calories of carrots. Choose your calories wisely and create a varied but balanced diet that you will stick to for the long haul.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.  Reprinted with permission: All Calories Are Not Equal In Menopause

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