Why a Calorie is NOT a Calorie

Myth: Calories are the most important part of the diet

It is true that all “calories” have the same amount of energy.

1 calorie (Kcal) = 4184 Joules of energy

When it comes to your body, things are NOT THAT SIMPLE!

  • Refined carbohydrates are not good for you
    • This includes added sugars like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup
  • Refined carbohydrates tend to be low in fiber and they get digested and absorbed quickly
  • This leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar
  • Hence, they have a high glycemic index (GI)

When we eat a food that spikes blood sugar fast, this leads to a crash in blood sugar a few hours later and then we get cravings for another snack (probably high in carbs L)

  • The two main simple sugars in the diet are glucose and fructose
  • Glucose can be metabolized by all of the body’s tissues
  • Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver

Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone.”

  • It goes up when we are hungry and down when we are satiated
  • Fructose leads to higher ghrelin levels (more hunger) than glucose
  • Fructose does not stimulate the satiety centers in the brain

A high consumption of fructose can cause:

  • insulin resistance
  • abdominal fat gain
  • increased triglycerides

Note: Fruits also have fructose but in addition, they have fiber and water which can mitigate the negative effects of the fructose.

  • Low-carb diets lead to more weight loss, often 3x as much
  • People start eating less calories without trying
  • Even when calories are matched between groups, the low-carb groups lose more weight
  • Low-carb diets also cause significant water loss and reduce excess bloating

Low-carb diets tend to include more protein than low-fat diets

  • Protein uses energy to metabolize and turn into glucose used throughout the body


  • It goes directly to your liver, where it starts manufacturing fat
  • Triggers more insulin resistance and causes chronically elevated blood insulin levels
  • Now, everything you eat gets stored as dangerous belly fat
  • You also get a fatty liver, which generates more inflammation

Now you can see just how easily 750 calories of soda can create
biochemical chaos.
In addition, the soda contains no fiber, vitamins, or minerals.
These are “empty” calories devoid of any nutritional value.
But they are “full” of trouble.


  • First, you wouldn’t be able to eat 10 cups of spinach, because it wouldn’t fit in your stomach
  • If you could, what would happen?
  • They contain so much fiber that very few of the calories would actually get absorbed
  • Those that did would get absorbed very slowly
  • There would be no blood sugar or insulin spike, no fatty liver, no hormonal chaos
  • Your stomach would distend sending signals to your brain that you were full
  • You would also get many extra benefits that optimize metabolism, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and boost detoxification


Bottom Line:

  • Refined carbohydrates (high glycemic index) lead to faster and bigger spikes in blood sugar, which leads to cravings and increased food intake.
  • Even though fructose and glucose have the same chemical formula, fructose has much more negative effects on hormones, appetite and metabolic health
  • Low-carb diets consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets, even when calories are matched between groups.
  • Different calorie sources can have vastly different effects on hunger, hormones, energy expenditure and the brain regions that control food intake.
  • Even though calories are important, counting them or even being consciously aware of them is not at all necessary to lose weight.
  • In many cases, simple changes in food selection can lead to the same (or better) results than calorie restriction.


  1. Davinder Singh says:

    I am a calorie counter. I am having heck of a time losing weight and body fat. Now, I am going to try your method. However, there is one problem: I have a gout problem. How do I handle this in your, low carb and higher protein diet?

  2. Dr. Judith Wermuth says:

    Dr. Singh’s educational comments and explanations are extremely helpful. I recommend that everyone who receives these message reads them carefully. They can change one’s health and life.
    It is also admirable that Dr. Singh takes the time to write these comments and to educate his patients. Putting so much effort into this task shows clearly how much he cares about his patients and about the public in general. This initiative comes from the heart of someone who should serve as an example among colleagues and in the medical world as a whole.

  3. Arthur Kendy says:

    Thank you so much for this helpful information.

    Wish you used a bolder font. Quite a strain on my eyes trying to read it even after enlarging.

  4. Sally Ann Jacobs says:

    Dr. Singh,

    This was an unusual and fascinating email, well written and right to the point. I recently began keeping a food journal, in an effort to lose weight and greatly appreciate these insights. Many thanks!

    My best regards,

    Sally Ann

  5. Joseph Frisa says:

    As a person who is in the process of changing lifestyle and eating habits I found this article very informative and inspiring. I’ve lost 14 of the 40 pounds I need to shed in order to make myself both healthier and more mobile. The method used to drop the weight has reflected Dr.Singh’s theory that focusing on calorie counting as opposed to calorie value will ultimately doom you to failure, No need to starve when you can eat an ample amount of intelligent calories and still achieve your goal.
    Now that Dr. Singh is attending to my back and knee problems I’ll be able to start going to the gym again and add regular exercise to my weight loss regimen.
    Dr.Singh, thank you for the additional and valuable information I’ll need in order to achieve the goal of a healthy and, as a result, more productive existence.
    You’re a great guy but the less I see of you, the better !

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  7. Chamomile says:

    The exsrteipe shines through. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

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