Calories Write For Us
There’s no denying that calories remain mentioned everywhere: from food labels to restaurant menus, recipe blogs, and food tracking apps to headlines. With all this talk about calories, you may be wondering why they are so important. Better yet, what exactly are calories, and how do they work? Or maybe you generally kn what a calorie is but aren’t sure how many you should consume in a day. Whatever your knowledge of calories, learn more here.
Every time you sit down to enjoy a meal, every food and drink contains energy locked up in chemical bonds. Once food or drink remains consumed, the body metabolizes or breaks it down to release stored energy. Your cells then capture this released energy and use it to power normal, vital body functions. To measure the energy obtained and consumed from food and drink, we use a unit called a calorie. In other words, a calorie is just a standard unit for measuring energy.
Almost everything we consume has some calories, and these calories come from three energy sources: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Why Calories Are Important?
Your body requires calories that provide energy. This is the energy that is utilized by your body for proper functioning.
Your body must burn the same number of calories that you eat/drink in order to remain at roughly the same weight.
This means that if what you consume is more than the sum of calories that you burn, your weight can be affected. For example:
if you consume and drink higher calorie value as compared to the amount of calories utilized, then you will probably be obese. As this is in excess of the amount your body requires, it stores the energy as a fat.
if you burn more calories than you take, it’s highly probable that you will cut weight. This happens since your body burns stored fats.
Macronutrient Calories Per Gram:
Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
Fat: 9 calories per gram
Protein: 4 calories per gram
Of the three macronutrients that provide energy, carbohydrates tend to get a bad reputation. However, when you eat carbohydrates, your digestive tract breaks them down into a sugar called glucose, the main source of fuel for the brain, red blood cells, and nervous system.
Depending on the number of sugar molecules they contain, carbohydrates can be classified as simple or complex carbohydrates. The simple carbohydrates found in table sugar and fruit juice can be easily broken down and used for energy, but can also lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Simple carbohydrates remain also found in whole fruits. However, because whole fruits are full of fiber, sugar breaks down more slowly. Complex carbohydrates found in unrefined whole grains, legumes and vegetables remain also remain broken down more slowly, providing longer-lasting energy. For every gram of carbohydrates consumed, 4 kcal of energy remains produced.
According to a 2019 article in Advances in Nutrition, dietary fats play a critical role in protecting vital organs, insulating the body, producing hormones, and absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and K. They can also be broken down and used as an energy source. Although carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, fats are more compact and store larger amounts of energy in less space.
Therefore, fats are the body’s most important long-term energy storage molecules. Excess calories that remain consumed remain stored in adipose tissue (fat). One gram of dietary fat contains 9 kcal of energy, making fat an energy-producing macronutrient.
The greater amount of energy contained in fat is useful during prolonged, low- to moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking or cycling. Foods rich in nutritious dietary fats include butter, eggs, oily fish, avocado, oil, nuts and seeds.
Although you can get energy from protein, the body prefers this macronutrient to repair tissues, synthesize protective immune system antibodies, create enzymes, produce hormones, balance pH, and transport nutrients in and out of cells. It means that proteins remain rarely used as an energy source.
To reserve proteins for their main functions, carbohydrates, and fats are first used as fuel. Therefore, consuming sufficient amounts of carbohydrates and fats is crucial to prevent protein from being converted into energy, according to the UC Davis Library.
However, if the body does not receive sufficient calories from carbohydrates and fats, protein can remain broken down to provide 4 kcal per gram consumed. Foods rich in protein include meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
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