The term ‘Calories’ are used in many places, such as in food labels and restaurant menus. You can even see the number of calories burned as you get on your treadmill. So what exactly do we mean by the word calories?
The word ‘calorie’ refers to a specific unit of measurement. It is used to measure the amount of energy found in a particular food or the amount of energy burnt by your body.
How many calories are needed by your body?
The answer to this question depends on the following factors:
- Physical Activity – The amount of energy that you use depends on your daily physical activities.
- BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate – This refers to the amount of energy that is needed by your body when at rest to be able to continue performing vital functions (i.e. for breathing, heart beating, etc.).
Calories are fuel
Your body needs fuel, and this fuel refers to calories that you obtain from food. As mentioned earlier, calories are required in order to keep your vital organs working. You also need calories when your tissues are growing and repairing. The more active you are, the more calories you will burn. Lesser movement means the fewer amount of fuel consumed by the body. Therefore, those who are living a sedentary lifestyle and who sit for long periods of time should limit their calorie intake. If they do not, weight gain is inevitable.
If your body is burning more calories than what you take in, you are allowing your body to burn your energy reserves. Your body has stored these reserves in the form of fats. As you allow your body to burn more of your fat reserves, the more likely you will lose weight. Complete awareness of your calorie intake and expenditure is considered an integral part of every weight loss program.
A healthy diet and a successful weight loss program require you to track not just your calorie intake. You should also track the number of fats, proteins and nutrients you are consuming daily.
It is very important to understand your own calorie requirements. I have heard many times that on average a female needs to consume around 2000 calories per day for weight maintenance. I never bothered checking my personalized calories requirement. To be honest with you, I was stunned to see that I should not go beyond 1600 calories per day to maintain the same weight. To start losing weight, my calories intake per day were not supposed to exceed 12oo.
No wonder I have been accumulating and storing unnecessary ‘energy reserves’. My approach to the diet has changed since then.
The number of calories consumed per day for weight loss or weight maintenance is highly personalised. If you are interested in checking your personal calories requirements, you can click here.
If you are not into calorie counting (yes, I tried doing that but later have given up on that), start managing weight by managing your body insulin levels. I am sure you heard about intermittent fasting. The book by Dr.Fung, “The Obesity Code”, is such an eye-opener. I think I read it in a couple of days. He masterfully explains why diets fail and how to stop dieting and lose weight by creating ‘fasting’ and ‘eating’ windows around your schedule.