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Myth Or Fact: Is a calorie just a calorie?

Amber Pankonin MS, RDN, CSP, LMNT

There are many claims today about how reducing calories in the diet is not the only key to weight loss.  The focus has shifted to the source of calories and not necessarily the amount of calories that are consumed.  I have also seen suggestive headlines that you can simply lose weight without giving up a single calorie or without having to do any form of physical activity or exercise - this is simply not true.

Calories that accompany foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber such as fruit and vegetables are definitely a smart choice. However, I believe that you can balance those choices with more indulgent choices throughout the day and still succeed at weight loss — especially when you include physical activity in your daily routine.

With the amount of nutrition and calorie information available and with so many great selections to choose from, I don’t just think but instead know that it is possible to achieve weight loss by reducing overall calories and including physical activity everyday. Diet beverages are just one of the proven tools for reducing caloric intake, while still allowing yourself a treat.

At the end of the day, all calories count—from any source. The body of science is clear and supports that a calorie is still a calorie regardless of the source and that weight loss can be achieved through making independent choices and including physical activity. Balance is key.

Amber Pankonin MS, RDN, CSP, LMNT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, passionate about food, nutrition science, and agriculture. She works as a nutrition communications consultant, adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and blogger at

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