Special Report

17 Things Nutritionists Want You to Know About Calories

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6. The source of the calories is more important than the amount

It matters where the calories come from. This, Jacobson says, is the most important thing people should remember about calories. “The range of nutrients you get in your diet is also of the utmost importance.” Not just the macronutrients — fats, carbohydrates, and protein — but micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, too, are crucial for the body’s optimal functioning.

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7. Focusing on metabolism may not be a good idea

Trying all kinds of foods and methods with the sole purpose of possibly speeding up your metabolic rate can have a boomerang effect, Jacobson explained. An individual needs to eat his or her healthiest diet and maintain an active lifestyle; the rest will follow naturally. “It is about being [healthy], not thin,” she added.

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8. There is no need to obsess over metabolism

Lean mass is associated with a higher metabolic rate, according to Jacobson. In other words, two people can weigh the same; however, the one with more body fat will burn calories more slowly, she noted. There are several ways you can boost your metabolism — such as building muscle — but the change will be very small, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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9. Strength training or cardio to burn more calories?

“Weight-bearing exercise burns calories, but cardio is best,” Jacobson said. A person who weighs 155 pounds will burn 112 calories in 30 minutes if he or she lifts weights, according to Harvard Medical School. The same person will burn almost 300 calories if he or she runs for half an hour at 5 mph. So, by session, cardio burns more calories than weightlifting. To avoid bulking up, simply do more reps per set, at a lower weight, Jacobson noted.

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10. Elaborate coffee drinks contain many calories

Many people forget about calories in liquids and focus only on food. But there are many “offenders” on the market. “I actually hate to see people downing coffee drinks every day, or a few times a day,” Jacobson said. “These jumbo-sized cups are full of simple sugar syrups and high fat creamers.” A simple cup of coffee is OK, she noted. Any sugary drinks, even fruit juices, contain significant amounts of calories. And don’t forget alcoholic drinks, which also contain more calories than many people may realize.