calories have values?

I am trying to lose weight and was doing pretty well for the first 10-15 lbs. Now, nada. I have a fairly restricted diet due to food allergies and intolerances, so all I am doing is counting calories and trying to be active. Are all calories equal? If I eat 100 calories of peanut butter, am I more likely to not lose weight than if I eat 100 calories of vegetables?

Simplistically, the reason calories for veggies are “better” is that to ingest 100 calories of veggies you’d have to eat a much larger volume of food than you would to get 100 calories of peanut butter (IIRC, 100 calories of PB is less than a teaspoon), and therefore you’d feel fuller with the veggies and not be inclined to cheat.

However there are in fact other factors at work that are very complex and there’s no concensus. Theories about your ‘plateau’ in weight loss could include: reduced metabolism and calorific requirements due to prior weight loss; reduced metabolism as the body’s reaction to calorie restriction; one that I subscribe to - alteration in your insulin levels due to the glycemic index of the foods you’re eating - i.e. the PB probably has a chunk of high-GI sugar in it which raises your insulin levels suddenly and makes it easier for the body to convert the sugars to fats - and also makes you crave more carbohydrates; whereas veggies tend to be low- or non-GI foods which keep your insulin on a more even keel. There is a shitload of debate about the above.

Calories have different nutritional values. 1,000 calories of green, leafy vegetables provide more nutrition than 1,000 calories of junk food. You would be more likely to lose weight by consuming calories with high nutritional content than empty calories. This is in a nutshell what Joel Fuhrman’s diet is about.

Foods have different nutritional values. Calories don’t. There are four calories in a gram of carbohydrate and a gram of protein; nine calories in a gram of fat. If you’re burning calories your body really doesn’t care much where those calories come from.

It’s when you’re not burning off the calories you consume that “empty” calories make a difference. But so do “full” ones.

If you’re restricting calories then it makes sense to limit calories from foods that don’t provide good nutritional value, and to eat foods that don’t leave you hungry. Peanut butter is fine for that purpose and so are vegetables. (Heck, peanut butter on celery is a good nutritional diet food.) As long as your choices are between a good food and another good food, you’re doing it right.

No, calories are not equal.

They are not the same in their capacity to cause fat gain. Protein, in particular, has a sizable thermogenic effect (calories completely unavailable to your metabolism).

They are also not the same in their capacity to promote water weight gain. Carbohydrates can promote water weight gain/hypertension.

Furthermore, they are not the same in terms of the satiety they produce. Protein is more satiating than fat, which in turn is more satiating than carbohydrate.

BTW I have recently discovered Fifty50 peanut butter, which has no sugar in it at all*. It’s a revelation - it actually tastes like peanuts. Recommended.

*It does have hydrogenated veg oil (=bad), which makes the texture the same as other mainstream PB brands, unlike the health-food peanut-only stuff which is claggy and separates.

So, if I understand this, the PB is more likely to convert to fat unless I exercise right afterwards, or close to when I eat it?

I wandered about that site and couldn’t find anything about his diet, other than some recipes. Which I wouldn’t be able to use because they included fresh fruit and vegetables.

Most of the time I am choosing good foods, but I do eat rice cakes because I crave salt, and I have a Fiber One bar in place of eating chocolate.

Oh! Huh. I thought eating a lot of protein was a good thing? I do tend to - eggs, cheese, the afore mentioned peanut butter, a little bit of beef. Damn veggies and fruits are hard for me to eat, tho I do eat bananas, canned corn, celery and spinach, just not a whole lot of any of those. How about chocolate? :smiley:

Fortunately that is a total non-issue for me. If I wasn’t taking medication that artificially raises BP I’d have hypotension and I totally do not retain water - never have.

Really?? I’ve found the opposite - I crave carbs in the form of bread, pancakes, waffles, donuts… I could go forever without eating meat and I’m not that into fatty foods but starch? Mmmmmmmm

Your question has many answers, depending on who you ask and who you believe. According to Dr. Atkins and other “low carb” advocates, only carbohydrate calories are likely to make you fat; fat calories and protein calories will not be burned unless you have no carb calories, and no stored fat on your body.

Not everyone agrees with that, of course, and I think that is because everyone’s body is different. I find the low-carb diet works very well for me. Other people have different experiences. You might want to give it a try and see if it works for you.

I did do Atkins about three years ago and lost a goodly amount of weight fairly quickly, and then ended up with - what is that called, you get from eating too much fat? - I forget what it is called, but it was because it was too difficult for me to eat enough veggies to balance out the protein and fat.

Peanut butter won’t “turn to fat” if you don’t exercise right after eating it.

Digestion takes time. The nutrients that are in the foods you eat are not available right after eating them.

Protein and fat take longer to digest than carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates (whole grains) take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, etc).

It’s a balancing act. The restricted calorie intake for one day won’t be evident today. Maybe not even tomorrow. The exercise you do today won’t give you a toned body tomorrow.

We’re talking long-term project here.

Before you started your diet you were at equilibrium between how much you ate and how much you burned (assuming your weight was constant). The calories you burn during the day is dependent on your weight (heavier person burns more). So what happens is that as you lose weight, your daily calorie burn will also go down. If you cut 300 calories from your diet and you exercised for an extra 200 calories a day, you will lose weight until you reach a new equilibrium. You’ll lose the most at first and then the change in weight will slow down.

What is your weight now? Do you have the actual numbers for how many calories you are eating now vs. then and how much exercise you are doing?

If you have plateaued, it may be time to make more changes to your diet and exercise.

One thing you should be aware of is how your body will change your metabolism if it thinks it is starving. If you are losing weight by mostly cutting a lot of calories from your diet, your body may mistakenly think it is starving and slow its metabolism. This means your daily burn rate goes even lower and you burn even less calories during the day. One way to combat this is to reduce your calorie intake slowly. So if you’re currently eating 3000 calories a day, slowly reduce it to 2000 over a long period of time rather than cutting 1000 calories out right away. Another way to combat the metabolism change is to do strenuous exercise. The exercise will cause your body to up your metabolism.

Calorie Count at makes it easy to calculate how many calories you’re taking in and how many you’re burning, and also provides feedback on the quality of the nutrition entered into it.

Their weight-loss program is based solely on counting the daily net total of calories burned subtracted from calories taken in. I used it for that once and with their method reached my weight-reduction goal in a matter of weeks (so that I could zip into a tight dress for a party, and I can still zip into it, so there may be hope for keeping it off long-term as well as short-term).

PB already is fat (well, mostly fat): it doesn’t need to be converted into fat before being stored as fat, it simply needs to be put away. Calories in the forms of sugars/carbs can be converted into fat for long-term storage, or merely put away in the liver as a long carb called glucagon. Calories in the form of proteins aren’t used to store energy: if you’re eating so many proteins and so little fat/carbs that the proteins are going to be stored for energy rather than used to build/upkeep muscles, they need to be converted first.

Hmm, that may be the issue. I am not really able to exercise much due to various health issues, so I’d have to cut calories. THAT will not be easy! :slight_smile:

I weigh approx 175 and eat 2000 or less calories a day (well, I will go back to that after Christmas). Exercise level is sporadic - I attempt to do household chores daily and maybe 2-3 days a week I do significant walking. OTOH, if I have overdone it there will be days when all I do is sit.

I may have “shocked” my body - I have no idea how many calories I was eating before I started the diet last summer, but it was significantly more than 2000. For example, I had no idea that a small chocolate milkshake is 800 calories! So I suppose it thinks it is starving - I suppose that is why I have low energy? I guess after Christmas I should slowly work my way back down to 2000?

Thanks for this! I’ll play with it over the holiday.

Definitely cutting calories can cause a loss of energy. Your body may go into a conserve mode where it doesn’t burn as much energy for non-essential systems. Plus, the less energy you have the more likely you are to sit around and conserve even more calories, which makes the body even happier. How much easier would it be if you could tell your to just relax and go with flow.

Imagine if you had a wood-burning stove. If you have plenty of wood, you might throw lots of logs on the fire to keep your whole house nice and warm. But what if one day your wood delivery guy didn’t show up and you panicked and thought he would never show up again? You might start to ration out your logs (fat stores) to make sure they lasted as long as possible.

Your body will eventually adjust to this new level of calories and your metabolism will go back to normal. I wouldn’t recommend eating more to get around this. You’d have more energy, but you won’t lose more weight. You’re already here, just keep pushing through.

Stay as active as possible. The extra activity will force your body to up your metabolism. It will think “I’m losing weight because I’m doing a lot of work” instead of “I’m losing weight because there is no more food.”