Debunking the Calorie In, Calorie Out Myth

When it comes to the weight loss journey, it’s essential to understand what works and what doesn’t- not only when it comes to losing weight but also for developing better overall health.  Learning how to navigate all the information when it comes to diet and healthy eating can be overwhelming.  The diet world is filled with a lot of misleading, false, and half-truth information, one that I’m going to address in this post is what is known as the calories in, calories out myth.  

When I think about the calories in, calories out myth, I recall past experiences of making choices of what to eat based on the number of calories foods had and the number of calories I was estimated to have expended that day.  This stems from the belief that in order to lose weight, you simply have to burn more calories than you consume.  While one could argue that there is certainly truth to this, as it certainly is true that to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume.  it can also be very misleading.  If we focused only on the calories of foods and beverages we would be making the assumption that your body processes and breaks down all calories in the same way, that essentially all calories are created equal and absorbed and used by our bodies in the same ways.  

While I’m not a scientist or an expert on digestion, I don’t think you need to in order to realize that your body is going to be fueled entirely differently by a 400 calorie chocolate bar than it would be by four apples at approximately 400 calories.  But too often, people can get fixated on calories alone as a way of tracking progress in their weight loss journey without focusing on the quality of nourishment those foods are providing their body and how their body is reacting to these foods, which only perpetuates the calories in, calories out myth.  

In order to lose weight, you want to focus on eating clean, real, healthy foods that are minimally processed and foods that come from nature as much as possible.  Real foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, animals, and fish that feed on a natural diet are what we want to focus on.  

When you provide your body with the nutrients it needs from nature, your body will begin to run more optimally and actually burn calories more efficiently.  

Since we know all calories are not created equal.  Let’s look closer at a few foods that are beneficial for you in weight loss.   

High Fiber Foods

High fiber foods can help you lost weight because the fiber helps you feel fuller longer; because it helps you feel fuller, it will help you eat less.  Fiber has also been shown to support the lowering of cholesterol levels and contribute ot a healthier gut overall. 

A few fiber-rich foods to consider adding to your diet are apples, raspberries, lentils, chickpeas, flax seeds, black beans, broccoli and pomegranate seeds among many others.  


Foods that are high in protein are great for losing weight as your body has to burn more calories in order to metabolize the protein.  Protein takes more time for your body to digest, which like fiber will leave you feeling fuller longer, while protein also helps prevent blood sugar levels from spiking.  Protein is always a great source to fuel your body. 

A few great sources of protein are black beans, salmon, cauliflower, eggs, oats, turkey, chickpeas, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds among many others.  

Foods to Avoid

One of the main foods you want to avoid are foods that contain empty carbs, that fuel sugar spikes and provide little to no nutritional value.  Foods that are considered empty carbs are things such as white rice, white bread, white pasta, bakery items made with white flour such as bagels and muffins.  

These are all highly processed foods, often filled with sugar, and contain very few nutrients, while also draining rather than supporting the body in functioning optimally.

Not all calories are created equal or treated the same by your body. Some calories fuel us, while others drain us.  Always choose quality calories that will nourish your mind and body over empty calories. Quality foods are one of the best investments you can make in your health and well being.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.