Nutrients vs Calories – Do You Know the Difference?

Written by Dr. Michael S. Boss

The lifelong struggle to become healthy and sustain health and wellness may stem from the constant battle and worry of the calories that one takes in on a daily basis.  We are taught from a young age that it is all about the calories.  “Calories in, calories out”!!  That is the mantra of most doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, trainers, and so-called experts.  The problem: it doesn’t work. Scientific studies have proven this and I see it every day. The vast majority of American’s adult and child are greatly overfed and undernourished. Simple metabolic blood markers indicate that about 90% of the clients I see initially are malnourished for one reason or another. They are eating every day, often times large amounts, but they are malnourished.  Some of them are not even heavy, but they are what I like to call “skinny fat people”. What I have found is that once they intake the proper nutrient rich foods, they heal, repair, re-build, look, and feel great!  Follow up blood tests confirm that they are healthy on the inside as well.


To get the real idea, let’s look at a few definitions:

FOOD:  Any nutritious substance that is consumed in order to maintain and sustain life and growth and to repair and furnish energy.

NUTRIENT: A substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of metabolism and life.

It is pretty clear that food and nutrients are taken into the body to maintain life and growth, sustain growth and repair, provide energy and support metabolism.

In Contrast, a CALORIE is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree, I.E., a unit of energy-producing potential equal to this amount of heat contained in food.

Donut ShapeYou notice that there is nothing in the definition of a calorie about nutrition, growth, repair, building, healing, or anything about sustaining life. It is basically an energy producing potential.
Yet the calorie is all that people think or worry about. “How many calories are in that? How many calories are in this?”

We must understand that not all calories are built the same! One gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories. One hundred calories of kale provides a plethora of vital health bringing nutrients that allow your body to function properly and at a high level.  The same one hundred calories of cinnamon buns or pasta or refined boxed breakfast cereal contains little to no usable nutrients as well as compounds such as phytates that actually block the absorption of other nutrients and lead to malnutrition and the breaking down of the body. Think about that tomorrow morning!  “Calories in, calories out” doesn’t work because not all calories are built the same.

The problem in the USA is that so many low to no nutrient dense “foods” are eaten daily. Many of them are even considered “healthy” like cereal, diet drinks, no fat products, and other miracles of modern science and marketing.

Balanced Meal

If you have tried the outdated “calories in, calories out” approach and seen no results, you likely have a metabolic issue that needs to be investigated and addressed. Health, real health, is largely about the quality of nutrients we put in our bodies because the nutrients are what make our bodies function. It is also about getting your bodies’ systems to function the way they are meant to function.  Even if you are ill or have a chronic disease, your body functions can be restored with the right nutritional evaluation and approach. Stick to good, whole, live, and organic (when possible) foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  These all provide health forms of carbohydrates full of fabulous vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, enzymes, phyto-nutrients, proteins full of repairing and building amino acids, and good fats that provide energy and support the brain and nervous system.

It is the nutrients that support normal metabolism, healing, repair, and function, not the calories. Nutrients are like the gas we put in our cars. If you put bad fuel or not enough of the right fuel into a Ferrari, are you going to get high performance?  NO, you are not! It is the same with the foods we put in our bodies.

Most people make vital mistakes every day with the things they put into their mouths through the food choices they make.  A lot of it is due to marketing and the way you are taught to eat. Did you know that the advertising firm who developed the USDA food pyramid is the same firm that created ads for McDonalds??

Your food and nutrition choices make a huge difference in your health, vitality, and longevity.  Learn the best choices and it will make a huge difference in your life.  Check back next time and we will expand on your knowledge and understanding of how the body works and what it needs to work best!!!


By Michael S. Boss, DC, FIAMA


Dr. Michael S. Boss has been a practicing chiropractor, health, and wellness practitioner for over 21 years. Dr. Boss concentrates on promoting wellness and restoring health in people through the areas of functional healthcare, nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, hormone function and balance, chronic diseases, nutriceuticals and more. Co-Host of the ELEVATE LIFE Wellness hour on 550 KTSA, Dr. Boss is currently writing his first book and is Co-Founder of the Wellness Initiatives of ELEVATE LIFE WELLNESS LLC in San Antonio Texas.

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Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author, Drew Canole, and the associated are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury.

It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician.

Drew Canole and claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.

Drew Canole

Ceo at
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.

As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.


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