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Low Cal – High Cal, What’s a Calorie?


Calories — We count ‘em, lower ‘em and sorta know we want to burn ‘em but what are we really talking about when we say calorie?

In scientific terminology, one use of the word calorie is used to measure the energy value of foods. The measurement equals the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by one degree celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere.

The food we eat becomes the fuel that runs our bodies. Drinks also contain calories, but sodas, for example, are referred to as “empty calories,” meaning they carry no other nutritional value; but the calories definitely still count.

The four sources of calories are:

• Fat = 9 calories per gram
• Protein = 4 calories per gram
• Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
• Alcohol = 7 calories per gram

Clearly, fats and alcohol have a much higher caloric density than carbohydrates and proteins, so it’s obvious that a 6-ounce serving of steak will be much more expensive calorically than 6 ounces of cauliflower.

The calorie used by dietitians and food scientists and found on food labels is actually the kilocalorie (also called Calorie and abbreviated kcal or Cal), or 1,000 calories. It is a measure of the amount of heat energy or metabolic energy contained in the chemical bonds of a food but it’s still the same ‘ole calorie you and I know.

The energy in foods is present as chemical energy; it can be measured by the heat evolved when the food is oxidized or combusted. The caloric value of a food may be determined by burning weighed samples of the food in an oxygen atmosphere in an apparatus called a calorimeter (or “bomb calorimeter”), which is designed to allow measurement of the heat released.

The physiological fuel value of a food or a food component may then be determined by measuring the heat of combustion of the food and then multiplying the heat of combustion by correction factors for incomplete digestion and incomplete oxidation of the food in the body.

As a rough guideline, recommended daily energy intake values for young adults are: 2500 kcal/d for men and 2000 for women. Children, sedentary and older people require less energy; physically active people more.

So a key message in all of this information is that a calorie measures the energy in food and beverages we take in. We all need that energy to live. Everything we do relies on the energy that comes in the form of calories.

No matter the form of your calories, if you consume more than you burn then you gain weight. About 3,500 calories adds up to about 1 pound. This applies whether the calories are food calories coming in, or calories (burned by exercise) going out of body fat.

Knowing this information then tells us if it takes 3,500 extra calories to gain a pound, all it takes is to cut 3,500 calories to lose one. This is best achieved by cutting some calories from your regular diet with simple changes, such as choosing reduced-calorie beverages daily and burning additional calories by exercising on a regular basis.

Reducing your caloric intake by and/or burning a total of 500 calories a day will lead to a one-pound loss each week, a healthy and sustainable rate at which to lose weight. The most important thing to remember is to not cut calories too drastically. Not only can it “backfire” and actually prevent weight loss, doing so puts your health at risk.

Pamela Klim 

Pamela Klim is an Advocare Independent Distributor residing in Bettendorf, Iowa. Pam’s passion is helping others achieve optimal health and wellness, weight loss, and/or sports performance with Advocare. Founded in 1993, they have set the industry standard for safety testing and cutting-edge science, using only the highest quality raw materials obtainable to make their supplements. Advocare’s full-spectrum line of supplements are for men, women, and athletes, and cover everything from weight loss, energy and mental focus, and sports performance to overall general health and wellness. They have been designed for anyone who wants to feel better, look better, and perform better every day. Pam also helps others share the products and pursue the Advocare income opportunity. For more information, please contact Pam at 563-940-2295, by email: klimwellness@gmail.com, or website: www.advocare.com/03034246.

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