Much like an ounce is a unit measure of mass, a calorie is a unit measure of energy. A calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. So, in fact a calorie is a calorie.
An ounce of lead and an ounce of gold are two very different things yet both are still an ounce. The two metals have very different values. An ounce of lead is worth about $0.006 and an ounce of gold is worth about $1,300.00 because they have different properties.
In the context of nutrition, there are important differences between calories, depending on the food sources. Different food sources have different properties. The number of calories from two different food sources can be equal, yet have very different properties, and therefore have very different effects on your body. For example, 1 oz. of cooked chicken breast is 28 calories, 1/4 oz. of white sugar is 28 calories, and 1/3 oz. of 100 proof vodka is also 28 calories. Eating the chicken breast helps repair muscle tissue, eating the sugar spikes your insulin release system and drinking the vodka has an entirely different effect. So although a calorie is a calorie, it makes a HUGE difference where those calories come from in terms of transforming your body. Eating the right number of calories is important, and eating calories from the right food sources is equally important.
There’s no getting around the laws of physics. If you want to lose weight you’ve got to put yourself in calorie deficit. The only way your going to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. A good nutrition plan optimizes your available calories that you eat every day. A great place to start is to make sure that most of your calories come from whole intact foods. You should also avoid refined carbohydrates like white sugar and flour. My new book, Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job, demystifies the calorie plus a whole lot more. I explain how our bodies utilize different macronutrients and walk you through how to build a complete nutrition plan. My program also includes complete cardio and resistance training plans. It’s a proven transformation guide that will have you looking and feeling your best.