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Is a Calorie a Calorie?

Nutrition and nutritional science is often controversial in the sense that there may be vast disagreements over individual aspects of it.   And perhaps one of the biggest is the question “Is a calorie a calorie?”   While this seems obvious at first glance, the simple question hides a bit more nuanced debate.

Is a Calorie a Calorie?

The basic debate over whether or not a calorie is a calorie comes down to the following question: is all that matters to the body calorie/energy balance (i.e. calories in versus calories out) or do the source of those calories matter.

How you answer that question sort of depends on what you are talking about.  Are we talking about weight loss?  Fat loss?  Health?  Fullness?  Something else?    This matters but few will define their terms ahead of time.  And this just leads to people arguing across one another, making points about different things.

Now in the simplest sense, a purely energetic one, a calorie is a calorie. … Keep Reading