Consuming right amount of calories is the key on maintaining a good health. Every individuals requires different amount of energy each day, depending upon age, sex, and size and activity level.
What is calorie?
A calorie is a unit of energy. Calories are usually used to measure the energy content of foods. In nutrition, calorie refers to the amount of energy derived from food & beverages consumed and the energy expenditure.
Health and calories
Human body requires calories to survive. The body requires energy to carry the basic processes needed for living. If an individual consumes only number of calories needed every day, they may probably have healthy lives. Too low or too high calorie consumption may lead to numerous health problems. The substance from which calories are derived is an important factor to consider.
The calorific values of three main components of foods:
- 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 kcal
- 1 gram of proteins contains 4 kcal
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 kcal
What is the amount of energy required by the body?
Total energy requirement of an individual is made up of following components:
Energy required for basal metabolism (For an adult, 1Kcal/hour for every kg of body weight).
Energy required for daily activities such as walking, sitting, standing, etc.
Energy expenditure for occupational work. This is further classified as light, sedentary, moderate and heavy work.
Image source: Webmd
Daily calorie requirements depends on:
- Age: Growing children, teenagers and during pregnancy & lactation requires more calorie intake.
- Lifestyle: The amount of energy required by body depends on the type of lifestyle you have. Sedentary lifestyle requires less energy but active lifestyle doing heavy work requires more energy.
- Size: Height and weight has an effect on the energy expenditure. High BMI of the individual is required with increased energy requirement.
- Hormones: Such as thyroid hormones disorder. Hyperthyroidism is related with increased basal metabolic rate resulting in high energy requirement.
- Overall general health of the individual.
When should we eat?
Time of the day when a person eats can shape how effectively their body uses calories. A large breakfast may help to control body weight. A large breakfast containing approximately 700 kcal is ideal for losing weight and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
Healthy weight maintenance
To maintain healthy weight, balance of amount of calories consumed and amount of calories burned through physical activities to be maintained.
Losing weight: Expending more energy than consumed by a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing physical activities helps in weight reduction. Cutting calories without taking the foods is usually not a sustainable way to lose weight.
Image source: ecaloriecounter.com
Gaining weight: Eating more calories than the body uses each day, helps to gain weight. Reduce calorie intake without starving yourself. It is recommended to make some permanent changes to maintain a calorie deficit in long term, without feeling starved. Diet and lifestyle changes have helped people to lose weight.
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