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Blog What is a Calorie?


What is a Calorie?

  • by Michelle
  • February 21, 2010

Most people have heard the word calorie before, but very few actually know exactly what a calorie is.  In the health and nutrition world a calorie is the potential energy in food and the amount of energy the body uses, according to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.  Calories are found in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and when the body digests them they release nutrients into the bloodstream, which are then converted to either glucose or blood sugar.  Any nutrients the body does not need to use right away for energy are stored as body fat, whether they are carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. 

The average person should aim to eat approximately 2,000 calories per day for women and around 2,500 calories per day for men; however, this will vary greatly depending on activity level and lifestyle.  People looking to lose weight should aim to take in fewer calories than they burn per day, because 1 pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories.  The key to weight loss is to create a calorie deficit.  For the average person to lose 1 pound of fat in 1 week they must create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day for the 7 days in the week through healthy eating and exercise. 

Food for Thought

Try starting a food journal and write down everything you eat in a day and calculate how many calories you are ingesting per day.  It’ll be interesting to see how your calorie intake compared to the recommended norms.  A great resource for tracking daily food intake is www.caloriecount.com.  This is a free website and not only does it calculate calories, it will also calculate if you are meeting your daily requirements for all the recommended vitamins and minerals.

Eating a slice of cake containing 500 calories will take approximately 1 hour of cardiovascular exercise to burn off.  Perhaps if you know you are going out for a big dinner, try and reduce the amount of calories you consume earlier in the day to allow for more calories at dinner.  This does not mean to starve yourself because this could cause overeating due to excessive hunger by dinner time, but opt for healthier lower calorie foods for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Email Michelle@CORE-Condition.com for more information regarding calorie intake and healthy eating ideas.

Michelle Roots BA KIN, CSCS, PES