So I may go on about it over and over but at the end of the day, calories are pretty darn important when it comes down to weight management. Whether you’re trying to lose, maintain or increase your weight, calories play a vital part in the equation. So understanding how your calories add up is a vital part of planning your nutrition.
What is a calorie?
A calorie is quite simply a unit of energy. Nutritionally we use calories to talk about how much energy food contains, whilst in exercise we often use calories to describe the amount of energy we have used up. It is balancing the equation between how much energy we’ve taken in to how much energy we’ve used that is integral to weight management.
- A calorie is a unit of energy.
- Everyone needs a different level of calories based on height, age, weight, activity levels and body composition.
- ‘Empty Calories’ are so known because of the food containing low nutritional value.
- All calories are the same, it is the nutritional value of the food itself that differs.
- Calories are essential to human health.
- Different macronutrients contain different levels of calories
How Calories Add Up In Macronutrients
Foods are often sorted into their macronutrient content; Proteins, fats and carbohydrates. These Macronutrients offer a different amount of calories per gram. By understanding how many calories each gram contains we can better plan the weights of our foods and eat according to our dietary needs.
- Protein contain 4 Kcals per gram.
- Carbs contain 4 Kcals per gram.
- Fats contain 9 Kcals per gram.
This means if we want 100 calories of fat or carbs in a meal then the portion of fat would be a lot smaller in weight. Despite the fact we do not recommend a low fat diet, it does show why fat can be easily over consumed.
Calories aren’t just found in foods but also in drinks and they can mount up very quickly. High sugary drinks such as fruit juice and sodas contain high levels of calories through carbohydrates. Alcohol in this case becomes its own Macronutrient and contains 7 kcals per gram, so take care when picking your mixer to go in your spirits.
Whilst I would never stop someone enjoying the occasional alcohol beverage, it is important to realise its calories will mount up quickly and is very much ‘Empty Calories’ as it offers no nutritional value at all.