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Why a Calorie Isn't Just a Calorie in a Paleo Lifestyle

In practicing a Paleo lifestyle, in which you try to eat like cave men, it is important to differentiate between the types of the calories you are putting in your body. Conventional thinking abides by the theory that people become overweight because they habitually eat more calories than they can burn off.

Under this theory, those extra calories lead to an individual becoming overweight and, eventually, obese. It's a simple equation of calories in, calories out. The amount of calories you eat does matter, but there's much more to it than that. Here are two key points you must understand:

  • All calories aren't created equally. The most fattening foods in the grocery store aren't the ones that are highest in calories. The most fattening foods you can eat are the foods that wreak havoc on your blood sugar and insulin levels: poor-quality carbohydrates.

  • The amount of total calories you consume is less important than the quality of the calories you eat. When you eat concentrated sources of carbohydrates that cause a strong insulin response, you gain weight.

Some examples of carbohydrates that trigger this unfavorable insulin response include grains, dairy, fruit juices, soda, alcohol, potatoes, and corn — these are all found on the Paleo "no" list.

When you eat carbohydrates from the Paleo "yes" list, you regulate your insulin and store less fat. Paleo-approved carbohydrates, like leafy greens and other vegetables, are bound up by fiber, so they elicit a low insulin response and your blood sugar remains low.

Even though a calorie isn't just a calorie, it's still important to eat just the right amount. Luckily, you come equipped with a natural means to figure out just how much you need to eat on any given day — and living Paleo will help you tap into that innate calorie meter so you feel satisfied and energetic.

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