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Calorie Definition and Why We Count Them

Calories in Food

Different types of food provide different levels of energy. That is, the three macronutrients are not all equal in the number of calories they provide. Protein and carbohydrate have less than half of the calories per gram as fat does.


Macronutrient Calories per Gram:

  • Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram

  • Fat: 9 calories per gram

  • Protein: 4 calories per gram


Because fat provides more calories per gram, many healthy eaters try to limit the amount of fat in their diet. But some types of fat are necessary for a healthy body. Polyunsaturated fat, for example, helps you to maintain a healthy heart. And even though carbohydrates provide fewer calories, some carbs are not as healthy as others. Refined carbohydrates, for example, are considered empty calories.


So are all calories the same when it comes to weight loss? Experts generally agree that a calorie is a calorie. It doesn't necessarily matter where your calories come from. To lose weight, you need to consume less and burn more.1


However, some calories provide weight loss benefits. For example, calories from protein are helpful in building and maintaining muscle. When you have more muscle, you are better able to stay active during the day and burn more calories. And calories from foods rich in fiber help you to feel full and satisfied throughout the day so you eat less and slim down. Calorie isn't actually a thing, it's a unit of measurement. A calorie measures the amount of energy in the food and beverages that we consume. We all need this energy to live and stay healthy. Everything we do relies on the energy that comes in the form of calories.


Calories and Weight Gain


Calories in food provide essential energy, but if you consume too many you will gain weight. Excess calories are stored as body fat. Your body needs some stored fat to stay healthy. But too much fat can cause health problems.


So how do you make sure that you don't eat too many calories? It's important that you understand your caloric needs. That is the number of calories your body needs to perform basic metabolic functions and daily physical activities. You can calculate your caloric needs using an online calculator.


Calories in Food

Different types of food provide different levels of energy. That is, the three macronutrients are not all equal in the number of calories they provide. Protein and carbohydrate have less than half of the calories per gram as fat does.


Macronutrient Calories per Gram:

  • Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram

  • Fat: 9 calories per gram

  • Protein: 4 calories per gram


Because fat provides more calories per gram, many healthy eaters try to limit the amount of fat in their diet. But some types of fat are necessary for a healthy body. Polyunsaturated fat, for example, helps you to maintain a healthy heart. And even though carbohydrates provide fewer calories, some carbs are not as healthy as others. Refined carbohydrates, for example, are considered empty calories.


So are all calories the same when it comes to weight loss? Experts generally agree that a calorie is a calorie. It doesn't necessarily matter where your calories come from. To lose weight, you need to consume less and burn more.1


However, some calories provide weight loss benefits. For example, calories from protein are helpful in building and maintaining muscle. When you have more muscle, you are better able to stay active during the day and burn more calories. And calories from foods rich in fiber help you to feel full and satisfied throughout the day so you eat less and slim down.




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