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Not all calories are equal

Some calories contribute more to weight gain than others.
Some calories contribute more to weight gain than others.
Photo by:FBellon via Flickr

A calorie is the same as every other calorie, right? Your body treats all calories the same. If you eat too many calories, you gain weight, at least that's what the diet industry tells people. The question is, how true is that 'conventional wisdom'?

According to Dr. Robert Lustig from UC San Fransisco, there is a great deal of difference between the types of calories you put into your body. In his talk for UCTV title 'Sugar: The Bitter Truth,' Dr. Lustig argues that calories that come from fructose and sucrose are not at all processed well by the human body. In fact, he makes a case that high fructose corn syrup is a toxic substance, and that we have been slowly poisoning ourselves for decades. Most of the increases in chronic diseases over the past several decades correspond with the introduction of high fructose corn syrup into our diet.

Our bodies were made to process glucose, which is fuel that all of our cells can use, but we do not process fructose and sucrose the same way. Only a small portion of these substances actually get turned into energy our bodies can use. The rest is turned into fat and dense LDL, the kind that clogs arteries.

Unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup has made its way into most of the processed foods in the grocery store. Our consumption of sugars has skyrocketed over the past 50 years, and along with it, or chances of getting all manner of chronic diseases.

But what about fruit? The sugar in fruit is also fructose, so isn't that a problem?

Not as much. Where ever fructose appears in nature, it is accompanied by fiber, and a host of other micro nutrients. This fiber slows the rate of absorption, so the body has more of a chance to process the fructose. Fiber also speeds the hormones that seend signals to the brain telling your brain that you should stop eating. High fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, dulls those receptors, and you have more of a tendency to overeat.

While it is true that consuming too many calories will lead to weight gain, some calories speed that weight gain.