All About Calories

For several years, you must have heard about calories. Almost every person in this world knows that in order to lose weight, one needs to reduce calorie intake, and burn them too.

But just what are calories? A calorie is a unit of energy which indicates how much energy is needed to perform a task.

In terms of the human body, calories are needed by our body to do anything, even to breathe.

An average adult requires 2000 to 3000 calories per day, even if he or she is sleeping all day. So, eating this many calories will not lead to weight gain, as the calories you are consuming are being burned due to your physical activity.

The problem arises when you consume more calories in a day than you can burn.

  • How many calories do you need in a day?

BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of energy needed by your body to do basic tasks, including the heart for pumping blood, lungs for filling up with air, the body for keeping warm, hair for growth, the stomach for digestion, and all of those necessary tasks you might not even think about.

This amount of energy is required by your body, regardless of the physical effort you make during the day.

Generally, the larger your body is, the higher your BMR will be. For example, a 100 pound woman will need much less energy than a 300 pound man.

Extra calories that you consume in a day other than your BMR should be consumed in lifting objects, typing on the computer, walking to the store, working at the office etc. If you fail to burn all the calories you consume other than your BMR, they start depositing on your body in the form of fat, and this leads to unwanted weight gain.

  • How many calories do I need to burn to lose weight?

girl hiding a cookie behind her backThe amount of calories you need to burn to lose weight depends on your age, body weight, and the type of lifestyle you are living. In certain cases, nutritionists and doctors even prescribe a high calorie intake for people who are active athletes or those who need weight gain.

A person with an average activity level and metabolism needs to consume as many calories as he or she can burn in a day. If you think that you are consuming more calories than needed to survive and to perform your everyday tasks, then you need to decrease your calorie intake and increase the physical work you do in a day.

  • Why it is important to burn calories to lose weight?

The most obvious effect of calories is weight gain. We have already explained how consuming calories greater than your BMR can lead to deposition of fat and ultimately, weight gain. In addition to that, high calorie intake can also lead to unwanted changes in your body composition.

In the presence of insulin in your body, your body tends to deposit any extra calories in your fat cells to be used in the future. Insulin is a fat storage related hormone which escorts unused calories into fat cells. As a result, your body fat percentage is increased and fat starts depositing on different parts of your body, including abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, upper arms etc.

If you consume more calories than you can burn, you also pose higher risks of developing health related problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Eating high calorie foods also causes stress on your digestive system. Keeping all these issues in view, it is important to burn calories in order to lose weight.

  • Top foods with highest calorie count

Young smiling business woman prepared to eat pizza

Young smiling business woman prepared to eat pizza

The calories needed by your body should not come from junk foods, but from health foods. You should avoid foods that are high in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. The following foods have the highest calorie count, and should be avoided as much as possible:

  • Alcoholic beverages

Consuming alcohol in limited amounts can actually decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure. But excessive alcohol intake can damage your weight loss program. Alcohol can be responsible for your weight gain.

  • Meat

Being loaded with saturated fat and rich in cholesterol, this animal product should be avoided if you are planning to lose weight.

  • Fast foods

Foods like burgers, french fries, and pizza are rich sources of sodium and calories. Therefore, you should avoid them for a healthier life and weight loss.

  • Potato chips

These have too much of salt and fat. 100 g of potato chips can have 1000-1200 calories.

  • Egg yolk

One yolk from a single egg can give you 215mg of cholesterol and 80 calories. However, egg-whites are rich sources of protein.

  • Ice cream

Ice creams contain nothing other than fat. Therefore, these are a strict no if you plan to lose weight.

Other than these foods, you should also avoid consuming pie, nuts, donuts, cake, direct sugar, and chocolates. All of them have a high calorie count, which can come into your way of losing weight.

  • How to burn calories

If you want to lose fat and weight, you must know how to burn calories. Here are a few tips that can be helpful:

  • Build muscle

This is one of the best ways to lose weight fast. The more muscles you will have, the more calories you will end up burning. If you have more mass, your body will consume more calories for basic survival, which means that you will have an increased BMR.

  • Eat small, but frequently

Most people eat 3 large meals in a day. Nutrition experts suggest that a person should eat 5-6 small meals every day in order to burn more calories. Every time you eat, you start digesting food, resulting in burning of more calories.

  • Exercise

You burn more calories by increasing your physical activity in a day. Exercise is an effective way of burning more calories.

  • Don’t starve yourself

Most of the fad diet out there lead to some weight loss temporarily, but they harm your health in the long run. Mostly, the weight you lose is the water weight or muscle weight in your body, both of which are necessary for your well-being. Once you come back to your normal eating routine, you regain the weight that you lost.

  • Eat foods that can burn calories

There are certain foods that can actually help in burning calories fast. Such foods are those rich in vitamin C, proteins, and fiber. Avoid foods that are responsible for turning extra calories into fat, such as patisserie, cookies, ice cream, etc.

  • Practical everyday exercises to burn calories

Woman working out with arm weightsWalking and running are the most practical exercises to burn calories fast. All you require is a pair of good fitness shoes. Fast and vigorous walking, also known as aerobic walking, can be highly effective in burning calories, even more than running. Whether you are at work or at home, try to use stairs to climb up instead of traveling in a lift. This is one of the best and practical exercises to burn calories.

Some people make climbing the stairs more difficult by carrying some weight while climbing. If you carry 1-3 pounds of weight while climbing the stairs, you tend to burn much more calories than running or skipping. Swimming and bicycling are also great exercises to burn calories, but you need to take some special time to get involved in such activities. However, if your office is nearby, you can decide to bicycle to your office everyday.

A person’s weight is vital to their overall health.  If you follow these tips, you will get healthy and stay healthy.