High-quality Calories – The Not-so-secret Secret to Weight Loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When it comes to weight loss, the concept of the British Nutrition Foundation Quality Calorie (QC) has gained prevalence as a very important one in the fitness world.

It’s a concept that basically encourages us to not just look at the number of calories we’re consuming but also the quality of those calories (and of our diet as a whole) to help us on the road to getting enough of all the nutrients we need.

Not just protein, carbs, and fat, but vitamins, minerals, a fiber, as well.

It’s a concept that encourages us to limit our intake of concerning nutrients such as free sugars, salt, and saturated fat… all while increasing our intake of low-energy-density foods, quality nutrients, and wholesome vitamins and minerals.

It’s a concept that aims to help us think about the big picture of our diet, and create simple swaps that turn our diet into a much more healthy and effective one, all while remaining on the same calorie count.

Today, we’re going to explore that concept in a little bit more depth, so you can learn to leverage it in your day-to-day fitness and dieting efforts.


When it comes to nutrition and weight loss, there are a couple of blatantly obvious factors that everyone watches out for. You know – the number of calories you consume, how much you exercise, how many meals you munch on every day, all of that.

But I hope we can all agree when we say – all calories are not created equal. There are factors *way* more crucial beyond just a plan calorie count and the number of macros you consume on a daily basis.

To quickly identify whether or not a source of calories is indeed high-quality, ask yourself:

  • Where does this food come from?
  • How was this food processed?
  • What’s added to it?
  • What’s the density of energy (calories) inside a gram of this food?


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a study a couple of years ago in which they dove deep into exactly the questions I mentioned above and tried to find out what’s the healthiest food option category out there for people looking to lose weight.

Here’s what they found out:

For starters, they decided to classify foods into 4 major groups, based on the extent to which they’re processed.

Here are those 4 groups:

  • Minimally processed/unprocessed foods – vegetables, beans, meats, eggs, whole grains.
  • Processed ingredients – salt, butter, oil.
  • Processed foods – canned foods, bread, cured meat.
  • Highly-processed foods – sweet snacks, packaged foods, poultry, chips, cake, etc.

All of the study participants spent two weeks on a diet consisting of highly-processed foods, then spent the following two weeks on a diet of foods from the first category (that are minimally processed.)

They found out that the people who ate highly-processed meals ate an extra 500 calories every day, even though both of those diets *initially* contained the exact same amount of proteins, carbs, fats, and fiber.

They concluded that the reason this happens is that eating processed foods results in feeling less full, and therefore ultimately leads to eating more total calories throughout the day compared to a diet of unprocessed foods.


The study concluded that this happened because of two very important factors – protein and fiber. Protein and fiber tend to be very common in unprocessed foods, with the addition of helping you feel fuller for longer.

Highly processed foods tend to be high in sugar and salt, both of which are not only useless calories, but also tend to stimulate cravings and make you want to eat more of that specific food.

But unprocessed foods are chock-full of protein and fiber, both of which add to satiety, make you feel fuller, and are both low in calorie-density.

Researchers concluded that this is the reason why even when other factors are matched, study participants still had a higher calorie intake when their diet consisted of largely processed foods.


Just remember it’s not just about calorie counts. Even though it’s difficult, you can technically achieve a calorie deficit on a diet consisting of processed foods.

But it will be much harder, you’ll be having salt and sugar cravings throughout the day, and you’re much more likely to end up in a calorie surplus (not to mention throw your blood sugar levels off balance.)

Instead, if you want to not only lose weight but stay as healthy as possible, focus on quality calories.

If you want to base all your dieting efforts on one concept, let it be this one. (It’s on par with 80/20.)

When you start choosing unprocessed food options, you’ll find yourself feeling much fuller, you’ll feel much better, and you’ll lose weight sustainably and effectively.

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