What Are Calories?
A calorie is a unit of energy. It’s normally used to measure the energy content that a food or a beverage provides. Although most people associate calories with foods, anything that has energy contains calories. There are two main types of calories: small calorie (cal) which is the amount of energy that is required in order to raise the temperature of one gram of water by a degree Celsius. A large calorie (kcal) is regarded as the amount energy that’s needed to raise a kilogram of water by a degree Celsius.
Calories which contain low amounts of nutrients are regarded as empty. Note that foods which have empty calories don’t have antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids or dietary fiber. Empty calories mostly come from added sugars and solid fats.
• Added Sugars
Added sugars are also known as sweeteners. They are usually added to beverages and foods during the manufacturing process. Food and drinks with added sugars contain high amounts of calories. The most common source of added sugars is the fructose corn syrup and sucralose.
• Solid Fats
They naturally exist in various foods but they can be added during food processing. Solid fats, just like added sugars, are used to make beverages and foods more sweet and enjoyable. However, these empty calories are the main causes of obesity. Foods and drinks which contain the highest amounts of empty calories include pastries, cookies, ice cream, energy drinks, sausages, bacon, soda, fruit drinks, pizza, and many others. A 400-calorie meal that consists of vegetables and fruits is better than a 400-calorie snack.
The human body needs energy in order to function. This means that if all factors are held constant, the human body requires calories in order to perform basic tasks. It is estimated that around 20 percent of the energy/calories that we take is used by the brain for metabolism. The remaining is used in rate of metabolism i.e. energy required when a human is in the resting state. In addition to that, this is the energy that is required for basic functions such as breathing, digestion, blood circulation etc. Note that when the environment is cold, the body needs more energy to maintain the normal temperatures while the vice versa is true in a hot environment. Overall, a human being requires calories in order to carry out both simple and rigorous functions.
Calories and Wellness
For the body to function, one needs calories. Without energy, all the body organs and cells would stop functioning and die. The energy that’s required for these activities is obtained from foods and beverages. However, most people are consuming too many calories than what’s required daily and this normally leads to obesity. Consuming low amounts of calories, on the other hand, could lead to serious health problems. A single gram of carbohydrate, for instance, contains 4 kcal. A gram of fat has 9 kcal while a gram of protein has 4 kcal.
Calories Required Per Day
How many calories do you need every day? Well, the number of calorie intake that an individual is supposed to take per day depends on factors such as lifestyle, size, sex, height, age, and health in general. Generally, it’s recommended that women take around 2,000 calories daily and men 2,500. Infants and kids of up two years need 1000 calories per day while males from 16 to 18 years require around 3,200 calories. There are also factors which affect the calorie intake and they are the fat-muscle ratio, bone density, and age.
But as a person gets older, the rate of metabolism tends to go down. As a result of this, their energy requirements also decline. For instance, females from age 19-25 years need 2000 calories daily but this amount declines to 1,600 when they reach their 50s. The time of the day which a person eats affects how the body utilizes the calories. If you want to lose weight and lower the risk of diseases such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes, a large breakfast that contains around 700 kcal is good. The time when a person eats matters just like what they eat.
Reducing Calorie Intake and Weight Loss
In order to lose weight, the body needs fewer calories than what it burns daily. However, it’s important to reduce the calorie intake in an effective way without starving yourself. For you to gain weight, your calorie intake must be more than what’s leaving and the opposite is true. But how can you reduce your daily calorie intake without starving yourself?
1. Eat Protein-Rich Foods
Foods which have high amounts of protein can significantly reduce appetite. Proteins are major sources of nutrients when help to promote health and wellness. Consuming protein-rich foods helps to reduce food cravings, binge eating, and calorie intake. By reducing the calorie intake, proteins create a deficiency in the body which leads to the conversion of fat to fuel. Protein is also a filling product that increases the rate of metabolism. Research studies show that increasing the amount of protein that you consume in a day also increases the number of calories that are burned. The best thing about protein-rich foods is that they help to reduce the number of calories that you consume and increase the number of calories the body burns.
2. Avoid Foods and Drinks That Are Rich in Sugars
Sugary foods and beverages are usually linked to weight gain. And as a matter of fact, most obese or overweight people are often advised by nutritionists to avoid consuming foods and drinks that are rich in sugars. Beverages with added sugars such as fruit juices, sodas, chocolate milk, and others lead to rapid weight gain. Individuals who take sugary foods and drinks daily have an increased risk of becoming obese by 50 percent. Furthermore, the harmful side effects of sugar is not only weight gain but also other serious health effects. The best sources of sugar are plant-based products such as fruits.
3. Constantly Hydrate
One thing that can naturally lead to weight loss is constantly drinking a lot of water. Sufficient amounts of water in the body can increase the number of calories burned by up to ninety minutes. It is advisable that a healthy human being should take at least eight glass of water per day. This can make you burn almost 100 more calories. It’s important to note that the timing of taking water is important. Taking water before meals helps to reduce the amount of food that you’ll take. Overweight people are usually advised to drink water before meals as it helps to inhibit much food intake. This will automatically lead to a lower consumption of calories.
Apart from water, beverages such as green tea and coffee are also amazing. They are caffeinated drinks which help to boost the rate of metabolism leading to the conversion of fat to fuel. A study conducted on a group of overweight people show that those who drank half a liter of water thirty minutes before taking meals led to an average weight loss of 45 percent. Overall, drinking water before meals and a good healthy diet usually leads to amazing weight loss results.
Exercise programs such as weight lifting usually increase the burning of calories. When you are inactive or less active, the body stores more calories than what is burned for energy. It’s because of this reason that the inactivity leads to low metabolic rate. A reduced rate of metabolism leads to weight gain and loss of the lean muscle mass. Its common knowledge that muscles are regarded as active metabolically.
To reduce the fat-muscle ratio, weightlifting and exercising help to exert more pressure on the muscles. This helps to increase the rate of metabolism and reduce muscle loss. The perfect workouts for well-toned bodies are sit-ups, squats, pushups among others. Cardio also helps to increase the conversion of fat to fuel e.g. swimming, walking, running and jogging.
5. Consume Low-Carb Food
An effective way of reducing appetite and accelerating weight loss is by reducing the number of carbs. Reducing the number of carbohydrates, especially the refined ones can easily help to enhance the feeling of fullness. This can make a person to lose almost twice more weight compared to low fat diet. In addition to that, a low-carb diet also provides other benefits such as reducing the effects of diseases such as high blood pressure. Aside from that, it also helps to alleviate symptoms of metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2.
The Bottom Line
Generally, the number of calories which a person needs per day depends on various factors. Do you want to lose weight or maintain it? Do you want to gain weight? Factors such as gender, current weight, level of activity, metabolic rate, height, and age are also crucial. For a healthy weight, ensure that the number of calories meets your daily requirements. If you want to lose weight, then a lifestyle change is important. Apart from reducing your daily carb intake, exercising, and properly hydrating, the foods you take should be rich in protein and fiber. Don’t forget to reduce your calorie intake.