Research studies have supported the notion that all calories are not equal when it comes to leading to body fat accumulation. For instance, all foods increase our metabolism to some degree, which scientists refer to as the thermal effect of food. However, when people eat different meals containing the same number of calories but with different nutrient compositions, in some cases they burn more calories in the couple of hours that follow. In particular, foods with more calories from protein and unsaturated fat tend to increase calorie burning more than if those same calories came from carbohydrate and saturated fat. So less of the food calories would be available for fat storage.
Energy nutrients such as protein and unsaturated fat are not easily converted to fat and are ideal choices to substitute for saturated fat and simple sugars.
Furthermore, certain types of unsaturated fat can play additional roles in influencing our ability to make fat from excessive diet-derived carbohydrate and amino acids. Some studies have shown that eating a diet that derives more of its fat from good sources of omega-3 PUFAs (for example, fish) may actually decrease our ability to make fat from excessive diet-derived carbohydrate and amino acids. This is another good reason to eat a couple of servings of fish weekly or to take a fish oil or an algae omega-3 supplement.
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