Sunday, 25 March 2012

What Are Calories?

What are calories?

I think that a major problem is that people simply do not know what a calorie is. I hear and see people looking to lose weight and they purchase ‘low fat’ foods, and foods with reduced sugar. I am someone who does not advocate low fat foods because we need fat for our body so it is important to know what calories are and from there we can alter our diet to get the best from our bodies.

So what are calories?

Calories are, essentially, a measurement of energy. The technical definition of a calorie is how much energy it takes to change the temperature of one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. As a matter of fact, when talking about food energy, a calorie is actually 1000 times more than 1! On food labels we will find ‘kcal’ and this literally means 1000 calories. However, 1000 calories (1 kcal) is generally referred to as 1 calorie.

So calories are needed for us to complete our daily lives. We each have different calorie requirements and this number varies depending on what we do for our job, our hobbies and our social lives. For the average adult, calorie intake is from 1500 to 3000 on a daily basis. It is important that we know how many calories we need to consume and that we do not go over this amount, or indeed below this amount, as we will gain or lose weight and body fat accordingly. However, our body can only use so many calories at one time, so whatever energy is not needed is stored as fat. This means that eating too many calories is why people gain fat.

A calorie break-down

Overall calorie consumption is the key to weight control but here is a break down of the amount of calories in protein, carbohydrates and fats, per 1 gram of each:
  • Protein – 4 calories
  • Carbohydrates – 4 calories
  • Fats – 9 calories 
So calories are units of energy and we depend on them to live! Different nutrients have different amounts of calories in them, but it is overall calorie intake that we need to be aware of in order to control our weight and body fat storage.


  1. That is interesting about calories. I can honestly say I did not know any of this!