Some people count calories religiously at each meal while others joyfully declare that calories don't count on the weekend. If you're just starting out on your fitness journey, you might stare at on the back of a cereal box looking for calories. A measly cup of cereal has how many calories? But what actually is a calorie? How is it measured? Is it a reliable measure to help you monitor the food intake? Let's dig deep.
But what exactly is a calorie, anyway?
As you know, we humans need the energy to breathe, to walk, and to exist. The science of nutrition tried to determine, through the use of calories, the amount of energy found in each food item to help us define what to eat. A calorie is simply a unit of measurement. Calories and Kilocalories (k/ cals) indicate the amount of energy in an item of food or drink. This is the vitality once processed will give us the fuel we need. The use of calories in nutrition was an attempt to measure the amount of energy a given food provides and how much of it we need daily in order to live. It is used to measure how much energy we use, whether that is through exercise, or normal bodily functions like digestion, breathing, blood circulation, cell renewal, or muscle tissue repair. Remember, calories come both in food and drink form.
Where do we obtain calories from?
We obtain calroies from three primary sources in our diets. What we commonly call as macronutrients. Each of which contains a given amount of energy per gram.
- Protein contains 4 k/ cals per gram
- Carbohydrates also contain 4 k / cals per gram
- Fats contain 9 k / cals per gram
Note: Please note that those who devour alcohol, shouldn't disregard it. Liquor also contain calories (7 k / cals per gram) as it is made through aging and refining of natural sugar or starch.
How many calories should we eat per day?
As a guide, to maintain healthy body weight,
- An average man needs around 2,500kcal/ day
- An average woman needs around 2,000kcal/ day.
- These values can vary depending on age, size, and levels of physical activity, among other factors.
Are all calories made equal?
Yes and no. They are in that one calorie represents the same amount of energy, regardless of where that energy comes from. However, in nutritional terms, some calories have more value than others. The key lies in how your body metabolizes the calories you eat or drink. Two foods might have an equal amount of calories; however, they are often not equally healthy. When it comes to sugar, for example, we ingest either fructose or glucose. They're both sugars, but our bodies react to them in very different ways, and the more sustainable source is glucose. Some foods have no calories at all, such as water and fiber.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The basal metabolic rate is the number of calories that our body needs to function whilst at rest. When we are resting, our heart is beating, we breathe, our mind is working, liver functioning and so on – all of this requires energy (calories). Eating healthy isn't about maintaining a very strict calorie-controlled diet, where you feel hungry all the time. It's about eating healthy. There are many different ways to lose weight and to maintain good health. Portion control and choosing nutrient-rich foods are important factors, too.
Each time we exercise, it takes calories (energy) to make that exercise happen. The number of calories burned for each type of exercise will vary depending upon the weight of the person – larger people tend to burn more calories. One thing about exercise is that it raises your metabolic rate not only while you're working out, but your metabolism takes a while to return to its normal level.
Online Fitness Coaching to the rescue!
As long as you burn what you eat, you will maintain your body weight; and if you burn more than you eat, you are sure to lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight, the best approach is to exercise regularly, get your calories from nutritious sources, and maintain a proper fitness routine. You can get a great workout right in the comfort of your home. What's more, you don't need a gym for this. Our fitness experts here at Stronglife can put together an online fitness program that works best for you. If you need help in losing weight and lead a healthy life, please contact us, we can help you reach your fitness goals with our best online fitness coaching and nutrition plans!