Choose the right types of calories.
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Think of your body as a seesaw. You remain in balance when the number of calories you consume equals the amount you expend through biological processes and physical activity. You run into problems when you teeter too far on either side. That is, when you have more calories than your body needs, or not enough. Caloric balance plays a central role in maintaining a healthy weight. Weight gain results from eating more calories than your body needs. The type of calories you're eating too much of matter also.
Why It Matters
Where you get your calories from matters as much as how many calories you consume. It's difficult to eat too many calories when you're following a healthy, whole-food, mostly plant-based diet. Those who consume excess calories are typically getting too many from sugar and saturated fat. Added sugars such as those found in cookies, cakes, candy and sodas provide excess calories. Because they also offer few to no nutrients, they are referred to as empty calories. Saturated fat foods like pizza, ice cream, full-fat cheese and fatty cuts of meat provide empty calories also.
The Domino Effect
Your body stores extra calories as fat in cells throughout your body. Because eating too many calories increases fat storage, you gain weight. Being overweight greatly increases the risk of developing other health problems. Overweight and obesity increase the risk of developing gallstones, sleep apnea, reproductive problems, certain cancers, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke.
Increased Cardiovascular Risk
Excess calories are stored within the body in the form of triglycerides, which circulate through your blood. Getting too many calories from simple sugars, such as table sugar, contributes to high triglyceride levels, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Triglycerides are part of your lipid profile, along with high-density lipoprotein, a good form of fat, and low-density lipoprotein, a bad form of fat. Having too many triglycerides circulating through your blood increases your risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Stanford University researchers analyzed population-based data to determine whether a link existed between sugar intake and Type 2 diabetes risk. The study found that for every 150 calories a person eats from added sugar, the risk of Type 2 diabetes gradually increases. The analysis included food consumption from 175 countries. The study found no other food component, other than sugar, was linked to an increase in Type 2 diabetes risk. Researchers published the results in the February 2013 edition of the journal "Plos One."