Whenever we talk about eating and exercise, we often talk in terms of calories. Dining menus at any chain restaurant quote the number of calories in every dish and treadmills will tell you the number of calories burned. Dieters count calories at each meal; other people joyfully declare that calories don’t count on the weekend.
But what exactly is a calorie, anyway?
What Are Calories?
You may think that calories are only significant to dieters but we often hear that people eat lesser calories or burn more calories with exercise to lose weight. But it should be noted that they are important for everyone.
A calorie isn’t actually a thing, it’s just a unit of measurement. It measures the amount of energy in the food and beverages that we consume.
We all require this energy to live and stay healthy. So basically, everything we do relies on the energy that comes in the form of calories.
The food we eat becomes the fuel that runs for our bodies. Healthy food provides calories (energy) and mandatory nutrients to build strong bones and muscles.
Beverages also contain calories. But not all calories are good for you. Carbonated water, for example, is often referred to as “empty calories.” It means that they provide calories but have no other nutritional value.
What Are Empty Calories?
The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, dietary minerals, or vitamins.
Empty calories come from solid fats and added sugars.
- Solid Fats: Although these exist organically in many foods, they are often added during industrial food processing, as well as during the preparation of certain foods. Butter can be an example of solid fat.
- Added Sugars: These are basically sweeteners that are added to foods and beverages during industrial processing. These are filled with calories. The most common types of added sugars are sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.
Added sugars and solid fats make foods and drink more enjoyable. But, they also add many calories and are major contributors to obesity. Alcohol can also contribute to empty-calorie in your diet. One normal serving of beer can actually add 153 kcal to a person’s intake for the day.
How Many Calories Do You Really Need?
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or just stick to your current weight, you might be tempted to look up the suggested calories per day for your gender, age, and activity level.
To maintain weight, the chart below shows you your daily calorie limit. It\’s based on your age, activity level, and the BMI (body-mass index) of 21.5 for women and 22.5 for men.
To lose weight — It used to be recommended that to lose a pound per week you would need to decrease total calories by 500 a day.
Now researchers believe weight loss is a slower process and that a decrease of 10 calories a day leads to a loss of about one pound in a year, but it can take as long as 3 years to get there. The key is to be patient and work with a dietitian to help find the right plan for you.
The following chart should only be used as a reference point because every person is so different metabolically even when they are the same size and gender. The following suggested calorie ranges are generated using the Institute of Medicine’s estimated energy requirement calculation.
Calorie and Health
The human body needs calories to live. Without energy, the cells in the body would rather die, the heart and lungs would stop, and the organs would not be able to carry out the basic processes needed for living. People absorb this energy from food and drinks.
If people consumed only the number of calories needed every day, they would probably have healthier lives. Calorie consumption that is either too low or too high will eventually lead to health problems.
The calories in our food tell us how much potential energy they contain and it is not the only calorie that is important, but also the substance from which the calories are taken.
Below are the calorific values of the three main components of food:
1 g of carbohydrates contains 4 kcal, 1 g of protein contains 4 kcal and, g of fat contains 9 kcal.
As an example, here is the breakdown of how a person would get calories from one cup of large eggs, weighing 243 g:
- Fat: 23.11 g (23.11 g x 9 kcal = 207.99 kcal)
- Protein: 30.52 g (30.52 x 4 kcal = 122.08 kcal)
- Carbohydrate: 1.75 g (1.75 x 4 kcal = 7 kcal)
243 g of the raw egg contains 347 kcal. 208 kcal comes from fat, 122 kcal comes from protein, and carbohydrate provides 7 kcal.
High-Calorie Foods In India To Have In Moderation
- Whole Grain Bread
- Red Meats
- Dry Fruits
- Dark Chocolate
- Granola Bars
Low-Calorie Foods For Weight Loss
- Kidney Beans
Foods With Zero Calories
- Brussel Sprouts
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Bell Peppers
- Green Tea
- Carbonated Water
Calorie seems to be linked only to weight gain and obesity, but they are vital for health. They only pose a health risk when people consume more than the recommended amount. When thinking about calories, you should not be considering just your diet but also your level of physical activity.
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