Calories – a word you often come across when watching your weight. Counting calories is a healthy habit and quite the fashionable trend. Just knowing the word or counting calories will not help though. Here is some more information on how calories work. This will bring you a step closer to your health goal.
Calories -What are they?
Every living being requires energy to survive. A calorie was first defined by Professor Clement in 1824 as a measurement or unit of energy. Almost everything we eat, except water, provides us with calories. Every food contains some macro and micro nutrients, which, apart from providing calories, have an important role to play in our metabolism.
1 gm of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gm of fat = 9 calories
1 gm of protein = 4 calories
In terms of micro nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber and some plant chemicals do not supply calories.
Calories – How many do you need?
Calorie requirement of every individual is decided based on factors like height, age, weight, sex, the daily activity level and your body composition. The recommended average daily calorie intake is of 1940 calories for women and 2550 for men. Larger people with more muscle, need more calories. Calculate your basic calorie requirement.
Calories and weight loss?
For weight loss, it is essential to consume lesser calories and burn excess ones that are stored in the body as fat.
A] Consuming lesser calories – this can be done by keeping a track of calories you consume throughout the day. Simply substitute high calorie food (fried, otherwise fatty, sugar-laden food) with fiber-rich, low-calorie food (whole grain cereals, veggies, fruits, green leafy vegetables). High fiber food also helps you in cutting down on the quantity intake, leading to further calorie reduction. Subtracting 500 calories every day will lead to 500 gm weight loss per week. You may be interested in a sample 1200 calories Indian diet plan for weight loss .
B] Burning excess calories – Increase your physical activity level by changing your lifestyle. Take up an exercise that suits your body and age. Exercise like jogging, running, walking, swimming, gymming and cycling will help in losing those extra calories.
What if I go on an extremely low calorie diet for speedy weight loss?
A very low calorie diet is the gateway to ill-health. It may give you great results in the beginning but, it ultimately leads to muscle loss, fat storage and a slower metabolism. In extreme cases it may also lead to gall stones and cardiac problems. Consuming a minimum of 1100 – 1200 calorie diet every day is the recommendation by medical authorities.
If you are already consuming only a 1200 calorie diet, do not reduce your calorie intake any further. Instead, try to burn around 300 calories through exercise or any sport. Get active by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk from office to your home.
Is the source of the calorie important?
Well, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie… but the calories derived from protein and carbohydrates are considered to be healthier, as a more complex process is required in processing these calories which in turn increase your BMR.
These macro nutrients also have some very important roles to play in the body mechanism.
Fat provides more calories in comparison to carbs and protein. It is processed in a simple way, making your system sluggish. The excess calories are easily converted to fat and this results in weight gain. [You may be interested in reading our article butter vs margarine].
Calories remains a common factor of consideration in case of weight loss, weight gain and weight maintenance. It is all about how you apply the mechanics of calories.
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