The Calories in Food

You probably know you need to reduce your calories in food intake if you want to lose weight. But what is a calorie anyway? A calorie is actually a scientific measure of energy. For scientific purposes, a dietary calorie is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to raise one kilogram of water one degree Celsius in temperature. While the calorie measurement has fallen out of use in scientific applications, it is still used to measure food energy.

Eating fat can make a person gain weight more easily. Not all foods deliver energy equally. For example, one gram of fat is equal to nine calories while one gram of protein is equal to four. Calories are basically food energy but if you take in more than you burn off, they will accumulate in your body as excess fat.

Your daily caloric requirements depend on several factors.

Some factors that come into play include your weight and activity level. A 200 pound male who leads an active lifestyle can consume more calories every day and not gain weight, than a 200 pound female who leads a sedentary lifestyle.

When losing weight you need to burn off more calories every day than you take in. When you do that, your body burns stored calories in order to meet your energy needs. Calorie calculators are very useful in helping you determine the optimum amount of calories in food you need to eat each day to lose or maintain your weight. Some calculators tell you the amount of calories you need based upon your gender, weight and activity level. Others tell you how many calories you burn per hour of activity.

When you consistently consume too many calories, or take in more than you burn off, your weight will slowly creep up over time. It may be a slow enough process that you don't even realize it, especially if you gain a half a pound a week or so. However, in the same way, you can balance your calories so you burn more than you take in most days and you can slowly lose weight over the course of a year in a healthy way that is easier to do than sticking to a suddenly extreme diet.

Certain foods, particularly those high in fat, are calorie dense. That means you consume a lot of calories in a small amounts of food. This includes things like candy bars, donuts and fast food.

Other foods are nutrient dense and lower in calories. That means you can eat a large portion and still consume few calories. These foods include vegetables and fruits. By eating nutrient dense, low calorie foods, you can fill up your stomach so you don't feel deprived. At the same time you will be consuming a healthy, nutritional diet.


Healthy foods low on calories

For example, a cup of raw, chopped broccoli has only 30 calories. A medium raw carrot has 25 calories in food, one small apple has 55 calories and a small banana has 72.

A medium pear has about 98 calories. Compare that to the nutritional facts on the foods that you normally consume and you can see how making smart food choices impact the number of calories you consume each day.


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