Monday, December 18

What is a Calorie?

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It’s just a measurement, like a mile.  While a mile measures distance, a calorie measures the amount of energy in the food you eat.  Calories represent energy.

The calorie was discovered, or defined, by Professor Nicolas Clement in 1824, and we have been counting them ever since!  Every pound of body fat contains 3500 calories and is approximately the size of a brick.  That’s a lot of energy!  That means if a person are 10 pounds overweight, they must use up 35,000 calories to lose that 10 pounds.

We typically get our energy from the food we eat during the day and not from our stored energy (fat).  As a matter of fact, fat is the last place our body looks for energy because it takes the longest amount of time for it to convert fat into a usable energy source – about 30 minutes of low level activity.  So, what we need to do is eat only what our body needs (about 350 calories per meal) so it won’t squirrel the excess away for a rainy day, and exercise at least 30 minutes to use up some of that unsightly stored energy.

To find out how many calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight, click Calorie Calculator.  Remember, a calorie is energy so this calculator will tell you how much energy you need to consume per day to maintain your current weight at your current activity level.

There are many energy bars and drinks in the marketplace today. They sound like they are good for you, and they can be a healthier choice than candy bar.  However, the term “energy” means “contains calories”, and you may be adding extra calories without realizing it with that energy bar.  They often have more sugar than you’d expect and do very little to boost your energy levels. You’d be better off reaching for a piece of fruit or a healthy sandwich using whole grain bread because you get more vitamins and minerals from whole, balanced foods.

Our bodies are efficient machines that store calories in the form of fat for future needs. Our bodies need energy to function, and we measure that energy in calories.  Knowing how much energy we need throughout the day and then eating only the amount of calories we need – no more – will help us to stay healthy and avoid becoming overweight.

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