Do you remember the first time you heard the word “calorie”?
It was probably in science class when calorie came up for the first time.
At that time, calorie meant the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celcius.
“Calorie” is actually a unit of measurement as taught in science class.
So, what has made it such a big deal in dieting, ever wondered?
Our bodies are a multi-function system.
Consequently, this system requires a lot of fuel to keep running.
This fuel is driven by the food we eat.
However, in order to measure the amount of food our bodies require, we need to use a unit of measurement.
That is why we use calories as an indicator of the amount of energy different types of food provide our bodies with.
Not only food, but drinks also provide our bodies with energy and hence are measured in calories as well.
How Our Bodies Process Energy
When food enters our stomachs, it gets mixed with acids and enzymes to get digested.
Carbohydrates, which is the primary source of energy, breaks down into glucose.
This glucose is released into our bloodstream to provide our bodies with the needed energy.
Some of it, however, is stored in our bodies for later use.
This process happens through insulin, which is the hormone responsible for using and storing glucose in our bodies.
When insulin is released from our pancreases, it tells our different body cells to open its doors to the incoming glucose from the blood.
Once welcomed in, our cells transfer the glucose into energy to function.
It could use right away or store it for later use.
It is through this process that our body makes its fuel.
Yet, it is very important to balance the amount of glucose in the bloodstream with the amount of released insulin to keep proper functionality.
However, if we eat food that contains too many calories, more than the amount required by our bodies, this calorie excess will be stored in our bodies as fats.
Too many fats could be harmful to our bodies and can cause unnecessary weight gain.
The Harris-Benedict Formula
Keeping an eye over your caloric intake is very important both for your health and your weight.
A famous equation for calculating how many calories do you need per day is the Harris-Benedict equation.
The equation estimates a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Your BMR is the rate of your metabolism, which differs from one person to the other.
In other words, it is the rate by which your body converts calories into energy while at rest.
655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).
For men, it is:
66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).
However, once a person starts to move and exerts some effort, this formula changes into what is known as the active metabolic rate (AMR).
Active metabolic rate is the conversion rate of your calories into energy while being active.
That is why there are different formulas for different activity levels
- Sedentary (little or no exercise): AMR = BMR x 1.2
- Light activity (exercise 1-3 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.375
- Moderate activity (exercise 3-5 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.55
- Active (exercise 6-7 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.725
- Very active (hard exercise 6-7 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.9
So, if you want to lose weight, then you need to increase your activity level and decrease your calorie intake.
When you do so, your body will start burning the stored fats inside it, and it’s a win-win.
How Many Calories Do You Need to Lose Weight?
According to AMR formula, if your BMR is 1500 and you are moderately active, then your AMR is equal to 2325 (1500*1.55).
On the other hand, one kilogram of fat is equal to 7700 calories.
So, in order to lose half a kilogram per week, you need to decrease your calorie intake by 550 calories per day.
Hence, your equation would be 2325-550=1775 calories per day.
You can do so by either reducing your caloric intake or by exercising or both.
To calculate how many calories you consume daily, keep this in mind:
- Protein includes four calories per one gram
- Fats include nine calories per one gram
- Carbohydrates include four calories per one gram
- Vegetables 5 servings per day
- Fruits 4 servings per day
- Grains 6 servings per day
- Dairy 3 servings per day
- Protein 8 servings per week
- Nuts and seeds five servings per week
- Fats and oil three servings per day
It is usually measured per 100 grams of food.
For example, 550 calories per 100 grams of oil will fill one-fifth of your stomach, while 550 calories per 100 grams of protein would fill two-thirds of your stomach.
Consequently, eating low-calorie-dense food makes us feel full while decreasing our calorie consumption.
As low-dense-calorie food mostly contains water and fibers.
On the contrary, high-dense-calorie-food is food rich with calories and hence consuming too much of it will contribute to our body weight.
In some cases, high-dense-calorie-food could help people with underweight problems gain weight fast, especially children.
Calorie Dense Food
Although very famous in many cuisines, including Egyptian cuisine, rice is a high-dense-calorie food.
Butter contains 102 calories per tablespoon.
Though an essential cooking ingredient, butter is a high-dense-calorie food.
Despite being many favorite’s dishes, pasta is serious high-calorie-dense food.
4- Mixed Nuts
A 200 calorie per quarter cup food, mixed nuts are a good energy booster, yet should be consumed cautiously.
5- Yellow Cheese
The master chef for many plates, cheese adds a richness experience only it can do.
Unfortunately, yellow cheese contains 115 calories per slice.
So, cheeseburger, cheese steak, melted cheese sandwiches, and eggs and cheese are expensive fatty choices.
6- Protein Shakes
Yogurt berry shake, chocolate banana shake, yogurt apple shake, and many others are high-calorie-dense shakes.
With 200 calories per serving, protein shakes are an excellent way to put on weight.
The healthy, yet, high-calorie-dense food contains 180 calories per half!
Though very beneficial it must be added wisely to your dishes if you plan to lose weight.
8- Red Meat
That is why red meat servings per week should be limited in a weight-loss plan.
Tofu contains 363 calories per cup, which is 44 calories per 100 grams.
Although it is a very rich creamy ingredient in deserts as well as smoothies and a good replacement of protein, yet, for weight losing champions tofu is an expensive choice.
The delicious orange fish that has many health benefits including, but not limited to the richness in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, potassium, selenium, antioxidants, and protein, has another side to it as well.
Salmon is also a high-calorie-dense food, as it contains 206 calories per 100 grams.
So, while you enjoy the dish be watchful over your intake.
As essential as milk is for many of our mood boosters like ice cream, milkshakes, and dairy milk chocolates, milk is also a high-calorie-dense food.
With 298 calories per cup, people on a diet should stay alert.
12- Sweet Potatoes
The delicious addition to many plates is also a high-calorie-dense option.
Sweet potatoes contain 101 calories per 100 grams, which is 285 calories per mashed cup.
Though delicious as well as very healthy because it is rich in calcium and vitamin B, it should be kept under control.
A Final Word
Even though energy is vital to our bodies and we need it to stay active and well-functioning, it should be well-observed.
Too much energy could lead to fat storage and consequently body weight.
The amount of energy consumed by our bodies is measured by the number of calories we take.
Our body intake of calories is measured by basal metabolic rate (BMR) equation, which is the rate of our metabolism in an idle state.
However, since we are hardly in a permanent idle state, the active metabolic rate (AMR) equation measures our rate of metabolism at different activity levels.
After measuring both our BMR and AMR, one can determine the number of calories one needs to cut off from his daily intake.
Half kilogram loss per week entails a 550-calorie reduction per day.
While it is a good idea to watch your calorie intake, it is also essential to reduce your consumption of high-calorie-dense food which includes, rice, red meat, milk, yellow cheese, pasta, avocado, and many others.
So, who is ready?