Trying to lose weight? Chances are that you must have heard a lot about calories and how you need to limit your intake in order to attain your weight loss goal. Many people limit their portion size, while some go on starvation mode to shed those extra kilos. Watching those calories are crucial to lose weight, but they are what keeps us alive! They are crucial for our heart to pump blood, lungs to supply oxygen, kidneys to filter blood and brain to do the thinking. So, before you embark on a diet to cut down your calorie intake, it is important to know a little more about it.
What Are Calories?
Scientifically speaking, a Calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1kg of water by 1°C. An average male should consume roughly 2,500 Calories a day, while a woman should consume 2,000. However, this depends on several factors, such as age, gender, and amount of physical activity. And it’s no wonder that a 25-year-old female athlete would need more calories than an 80-year-old man with very little physical activity.
Now, if you read the energy segment on food packaging, it is often written in kcal. (k=1,000).
Calorie And Its Role In Weight Management
Although there are many factors that affect the whole calorie game, it is often seen that a person who watches his/her intake is more careful about what he/she eats and how much. So, it is always useful to measure your calorie consumption for making healthy food choices. If you consume more calories than you burn, the excess is stored as fat and the same, if continued over a long time, will make you obese and vice versa. To maintain weight, you need to burn the number of calories you consume. The Mifflin-St Jeor formula will help you in this.
A medium-sized chocolate chip cookie has roughly the same number of calories as a glass of whole milk. But you don’t need an expert to tell you which of these is packed with nutrients. Although a calorie deficit diet is what you need to lose weight, watching what you eat, its nutritional value is equally important. Also, the amount of energy extracted from a food item differs from person to person.
Calorie Need Age, Gender & Other Factors?
Before figuring this out, you should first understand how your body uses the calories that you consume. The calories you consume are used in three ways: digestion (10%), physical activity (30-40%), other functions (60-70%). Thus, the amount of calories you consume, 10% of that is burned in digesting the food, 30-40% is used up in physical activity, such as running, stretching or just moving around. The body uses the largest portion of the calorie intake in the basic functions, such as in pumping blood, clearing out toxins, thinking, etc. This is known as basal metabolic rate, or BMR.
This can be calculated by the Mifflin-St Jeor formula:
BMR = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (5 x age in years) + S
S = 5 for men and -161 for women.
To calculate the total amount of calories you burn in a day, add to the above 10% of your daily calorie intake and the amount you burn by doing physical activity.
Tips To Do It
Here are some simple tips to follow to keep a check on calorie intake:
- Whenever you eat anything packaged, read the energy and nutritional label on the pack.
- Also, there are several websites and apps that can help you keep a log of your calories.
- In the end, it comes down to having a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating nutritional food.
Although an overused trope, remember “you are what you eat”. It might not be true, but would help you make better food choices.
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