Everyone has heard some talk in their life about calories. Watch your calories. Limit your calories. Don’t consume this percentage of calories. But the biggest thing most people wonder is What Are Calories? Read on for more information on what are calories and how they can help you lose weight.
No. They are not little creatures, but on some days it might feel like they are in your closet making everything you own two sizes too small.
Calories Are a Unit of Measure
Calories are a unit of measure, similar to measuring ounces or inches. A calorie measures the amount of energy that you get from a food or beverage. In order to sustain energy and keep going throughout the day, you need to consume calories so that you can fuel your body.
I am sure that many parents have given this analogy to their children: Your body is like a car. It will only be able to run for so long until you need to get more gas (food). If you don’t get gas, then your car (body) is going to eventually stall (lose energy).
If you haven’t used that analogy with your kids, I urge you to. It’s the simplest way to explain to a child why eating is so important. Especially during those fussy-food toddler years.
How Are Calories Calculated?
Calories (cal) are calculated based on the amount of energy is needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram or 1000 grams of water by one degree (Celsius). So when you see 4 calories, it is equivalent to 4000 grams or 4 kilocalories (kcal). Since this is the basic unit of measuring calories, without getting scientific, I’ll stick with this basic info for now.
To figure the correct amount of calories that you need to consume each day visit: Calculator.net.
Calories and How They Affect Your Weight
Since calories are the units of energy you need to keep your body moving, it’s essential to know what your daily calorie intake should be.
- Maintaining weight — Your weight will stay the same when the calories you eat and drink equal the calories you burn.
- Losing weight — You will lose weight when the calories you eat and drink are less than the calories you burn.
- Gaining weight — You will gain weight when the calories you eat and drink are greater than the calories you burn.
How To Choose the Right Calories
Choosing what to eat is not a difficult task. Most times adults are in a rush and choose something that leftover in the fridge, an apple sitting in the fruit bowl, and a can of soda. Or in desperate times, we run to a fast food joint, where we know the calorie intake for a small burger, is enough for three days.
When choosing foods, the most accurate advice that can be recommended is to be mindful!
Choosing foods that are high in calorie with no nutritional value will cause you to gain unnecessary weight, as well as not contributing to your daily vitamin and mineral values. When looking for foods that will maximize your calorie intake look for the following: low-fat (as opposed to non-fat), whole grain or whole wheat, good fiber source, and ultimately something that is low in calories in general.
Empty Calories are foods and beverages that may be high in calories, but provide little or no nutritional value. The classic example is soda. Regular soda can be loaded with calories, but when you read the back of the can there is no nutritional value that this item can bring to your day. It’s not to say that I don’t love a glass of ice cold cola, but I am very wary about how much and how often I drink it.
Another example is the obvious candy bar. Yum! A Snickers bar sounds great right about now, but when I think of the calories, fat, and lack of protein and fiber in this food, I’d prefer to pass right over it.
So chose foods that can contribute to your diet in a positive way for your day and your health.
There really isn’t any rules when it comes to calories because everyone’s caloric intake and need is different. In general I always advise my nutritional clients the following:
- If it doesn’t have a label, eat as much as you want! — These foods are usually going to be fruits and vegetables. Although they may be higher in sugars than other foods the calories are lower and the fat is much, much lower. I mean think about the last time you saw a nutritional label on an apple. Does that even exist? PS: Send me a picture if you do!
- Eat bright! — The best foods to eat are those that are bright in color. Yellow, orange, red, and purple are excellent choices. These vegetables or fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Eat with a purpose— Before you take a bite out of something, stop for one minute and assess how well the calorie to nutrient value is. At the end of the day, will you regret it?
How do you manage your calories on a daily basis?