Calories, calories and more calories; we hear about calories all the time and we’re told how many of them are in everything we eat. Calories are held in high regard for weight loss, but why are they so important? If we do not know why they are important, can we really concentrate on reducing our calories?
Calories are quite abstract when you consider them. They are not part of your food as such; there is no specific entity called a calorie in your chocolate bar. Calories are a way of measuring the energy content of your food, and therefore they have great importance in determining what exactly you’ll be getting out of the food energy-wise. Think about calories in the way you think about how tall you are – you do not contain feet and inches, but they are a unit of measuring a certain trait you possess.
Calories basically represent how much carbohydrate, protein and fat are in your food. Eating too many calories means taking in more energy than you need, with the result that the energy is tored rather than burned. This means it turns to fat on your belly, hips, arms and thighs among other places. Keeping track of your caloric intake and output is important even if the diet plan you are participating in does not require you to keep track of your calories.
While losing weight, it is helpful to keep track of your calories but when you are no longer losing weight is it still necessary to track your calories? It is if you are maintaining the weight you lost. If you are not trying to lose or maintain weight, you should be aware of what you are eating and the effect the amount of calories will have on your body.
If you eat less than what you need, your body will have to burn its stores, and therefore you will lose weight. Everyone is aware of how high calorie food means more chance of gaining weight, but it helps to understand how it all works, doesn’t it?
Of course, knowing how fast your metabolism works and how quickly you burn calories isn’t exactly something you can easily determine, but you can estimate how many calories you are consuming and burning easily enough – and this method is generally effective.
If you exercise, you’ll burn more calories. Of course, to exercise in the first place without almost passing out, you need to eat. You therefore need to balance how much you eat before exercising, with how many calories you have the potential to burn during exercise. The same goes for all daily activities, and your calorie intake should be adjusted according to how much of an active lifestyle you lead.
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copyright © Dannett Frey, Taking Care of the Written Word, 2010