All about Calories and Weight loss
Have you been trying to lose weight for some time now? Then I bet you must have come across the word ‘calories’ more time than you can count. The word is simply saturated on the internet and yet not a lot of people seem to understand it fully. I mean, if you are trying to lose weight, what you should be aiming at are ways to work the calories to your advantage and make them your enemy. In fact, the first rule of thumb is calories are not your enemy. Continue reading this article to learn more.
What are calories?
Of course, everyone knows a calorie is a unit of energy, in simple terms, it is a measurement unit.
A very common misconception is that calories are bad for you, this is simply not true, after all, everybody needs the energy to function properly. Essentially, we all need calories to survive but like almost everything on this earth, there is a disadvantage to it just as there are advantages. Calories can cause weight gain when excess calories stored in the body are not burned off through physical activities. What do I mean by all of this? Let me break it down further for you.
Classes of calories:
- Low-calorie food:
Low-calorie food is calories that are considered small or little because of the food size being served. Essentially, calories cannot be dissociated from what we eat, and during the course of this article, we will learn a lot more about it. Common foods that are widely low in calorie content are veggies and fruits. Some examples include a cup of broccoli that has about 15 calories, one stalk of celery contains 10 calories, one corn ear contains 123 calories, and one orange has 70 calories. So, you see vegetables and fruits have some of the lowest calorie content. Small calorie or cal also falls under this class, a small calorie is energy needed to increase the temperature of 1g of water by 1 degree Celsius.
- High-calorie food:
Foods like this are also generally known as calorie-dense food. This class of calories has a high amount of calories measured relative to the size of the food being served. Common food that has high-calorie content includes fat or fatty food, oil or oily food, sweet or sugary food, fried food, and butter. High-calorie food consumers have a higher tendency to gain weight from the excess calories gained from the food. Junk food is generally also considered high-calorie food. However, some very nutritious foods are far from being junk foods that are also high in calorie content. For example, every cup of quinoa contains about 222 calories, a cup of olive oil contains about 119 calories, even avocadoes have 227 calories per one and whole grains that are considered very healthy have about 648 calories, the same amount as a bar of dark chocolate. Dried-up fruits like raisins are specially packed with a lot of calories. High calorie or large calorie is also referred to as kcal, a large calorie is energy needed to increase the temperature of 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius.
- Empty calorie food:
Empty calorie food is meals that have zero or very little nutritional value, common examples of this are solid fat and added sugar. Essentially, empty-calorie foods have all the qualities to make you gain weight from the excess calorie intake but they offer no additional nutrients except for a few popular junk foods like pizza and cheese that has proteins and calcium, somewhat. There are so many popularly consumed food items that are empty-calorie food and they include sodas, processed meat, ice cream, donuts, pastries and cakes, cookies, and sausages.
Daily calorie requirement:
The daily calorie requirement for both men and women differ slightly, however, the lifestyle of every individual is different because while some live a very physically active lifestyle, some live a more redundant and mobile life where physical activity is minimal. Another difference in people would be the different rate of metabolism, what this means is that even though women are required to take in fewer calories per day, if a woman’s metabolism rate is very high, then her calorie intake would naturally also have to increase.
The daily calorie requirement for women is 2200 kcal daily, while men need 2700 kcal daily.
Other factors that might impact our daily calorie intake include;
- Health factors
- Height of the individual
- The shape of the body
- Daily physical activity of the individual
Like I said at the beginning of the article, our body needs calories to survive, we get energy from the calories and nutrients we get from food. Every class of food has a standard calorie content and they are as follows;
- A gram of fatty food has 9 kcal
- A gram of carbs has just 4 kcal
- A gram of protein meals also has 4 kcal
While it is advised to watch your calorie content to lose some weight, you also have to watch your calorie content to make sure you are not consuming below your daily calorie requirement, especially if you live an active life. The amount of calorie intake is just as important as the quality of the food that provides the quality, so you have to be mindful of the type of food you consume.
Research shows that having a big breakfast containing about 700 kcal is a good way to lose weight. Surprised right? It’s been proven that the time of day you consume food is a big determining factor of how efficiently your body can utilize the calories from the food or store them up as excess fat in your body. Having a big breakfast also reduces the chances of having high cholesterol, diabetes, or a heart condition.
Dieting and weight loss:
Dieting is the process of regulating food intake for the primary purpose of either losing weight or maintaining a healthy living. Taking note of the number of calories you eat daily to better understand how to maintain a healthy life in the form of exercises or physical activities is important. An average individual can burn 112 calories after a mile’s run. If you consume more calories than you burn out or work out, it leads to weight gain. Calories can work for you or against you if understood and used efficiently. Aside from the purpose of weight loss, it can also be used for weight gain. People could consume very few calories in a day, way less than their daily requirement and the body, because it is always in need of energy to function, would utilize the fat present in the lean muscle mass in the body and burn that out. This could even put the person in a state of ketosis and could lead to extreme weight loss and accompanied by other side effects like severe headache and bad breath also known as ketosis breathe. This is also called being in a state of caloric deficit.
These are the two major reasons people engage in dieting and as far as calories and weight loss are concerned, there are 2 types of calorie dieting.
- A low-calorie diet, and
- Very low-calorie diet
Low-calorie diet plan:
A low-calorie diet plan is a dieting plan that offers women about 1000 – 1200 calories in its food plan in one day. For men, it offers 1200 – 1600 calories in a day. This is a good way to lose some weight, the calorie content in this diet can differ based on different factors like gender, age, and weight. Men essentially have a higher requirement number because they have a higher metabolic rate and they are more likely to have a more active lifestyle.
Extremely low-calorie diet plan:
In this type of diet plan, the individual is mostly required to replace their regular meals with liquid formulated meals like shakes – liquid shakes. The daily calorie intake for this diet plan is about 800, it is very little it requires the attention and recommendation of a specialist or doctor before embarking on this dieting plan.
How to reduce calorie intake to improve weight loss:
Now that we have a better understanding of calories, let us talk about how to reduce our calorie intake to lose weight. There are different ways to go about this but I will only talk about the most efficient and commonly used;
- Cut down added sugar drinks and fruit juices: Several studies have shown use that sugary drinks have a direct link to obesity. Popular sweet drinks like chocolate milk, sodas, fruit juices
- Be active/Exercise: When you are on a calorie diet, your body responds naturally to this by conserving your body’s energy and reducing your metabolism rate. Like I mentioned before, this can also lead to loss of muscle mass and because muscles are naturally supposed to be metabolically active and your body is fighting it not to be, it could lead to a lot of fatigue. To prevent this, experts have advised that you can exercise and work your muscles to make sure they remain metabolically active, this will also stop your metabolism from slowing down.
- Drink water: This may seem very basic and random but it is a very useful trick that a lot of people are unaware of. Drinking water can help you lose calories by increasing the rate you burn calories.
- Increase protein intake: Protein is another great way to lose weight because it not only reduces appetite, it also increases the metabolism rate of the body.
- Reduce carbs: There’s a reason people engage in a low-carb diet, a low-carb diet is proven to be more effective in weight loss in comparison to calorie dieting. There are some other proven ways to lose weight and burn excess fat creating calories in the body and it includes, intake of supplements.
In conclusion, weight loss should be approached methodologically and you should stick to a particular method for a while before switching to another method of weight loss if no change is noticed. Also, remember, before engaging in the extremely low-calorie dieting plan, you should talk to your doctor or an expert, especially if you have a preexisting medical condition or you’re pregnant.
Regards BeautyFit® Australia Team