Candy Bars vs. Vegetables - TLC The Littleton Clinic

Candy Bars vs. Vegetables

Calories in and calories out is how you can achieve your ideal weight right? If this were true than most of us would be at our ideal weight.

With an estimated 2 out of 3 adults in the U.S. being overweight, or obese the calories in and calories out model of weight loss isn’t working. Food is more than just calories, it’s information that our cells need to function, information that our metabolism can use to either run efficiently or sluggishly trudge along. And not all calories are created equal. For instance, let’s look at how the calories from your favorite candy bar affect your body.

When you consume that candy bar or other sugary, refined carbs or even fruit juices, your gut quickly absorbs the fiber-free sugars, fructose, and glucose. The glucose spikes your blood sugar, starting the domino effect of high insulin and a cascade of hormonal responses. The high insulin increases storage of belly fat, increases inflammation, and raises triglycerides; it lowers HDL, raises blood pressure, lowers testosterone in men and contributes to infertility in women.

What’s worse? Your appetite is increased because of insulin’s effect on your brain chemistry. Insulin blocks your appetite control hormone leptin. What does this do to you in the long run? You become more leptin resistant, so the brain never gets the “I’m full” signal. The result? Your body thinks it’s starving and your pleasure reward center gets triggered, driving you to consume more sugar and fueling your sugar addiction.

Now, let’s look at what happens when you choose your favorite vegetable instead of a candy bar.

Your favorite vegetable (for instance kale) is full of fiber and low in carbohydrates and sugar. You’d have to eat a large amount of kale to reach the same number of calories that your favorite candy bar would provide. You would have no blood sugar or insulin spike, no fatty liver, and no hormonal chaos from eating a serving of kale. The fiber in the kale would also cause your stomach to distend, sending signals to your brain that you were full. And, you would get the many health benefits of kale (optimizing your metabolism, lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, detoxification, etc.).

Healthy eating should focus on quality over quantity. Real foods like colorful vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats are going to give your cells the information they need to function at their very best.

So, choose your favorite vegetable over that candy bar and think quality over quantity. Your body will thank you in the long run!


  • Bruno says:

    Any suggestions for “grab & go” items. You see a lot of items for sale at counters, especially when I travel. I can see the need for food prep ahead which requires discipline and practice when planning meals/snacks for taking with you to work.

    • TLC Staff says:

      Hi Bruno. That is a good question. Most grab & go options are poor choices. Some better options that aren’t too hard to find are almonds or other nuts, olives, hard boiled eggs, or low glycemic fruit like an apple.

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