Updated: Sep 29, 2020
How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh I can't eat that it has too many calories"?
We honestly can't relate because we surround ourselves with people who love food a tad too much to calorie count. We've found our tribe yo! But as trainers, I know that understanding how calories work is key to learning how to make the necessary tweaks to your diet and you all know by now that what you eat and how much you consume directly influences how fast you will see results and how long they will stick around.
WHAT ARE CALORIES?
The amount of energy in an item of food or drink is measured in calories. When we consume (in food & drink) more calories than we use up, our bodies resort to storing the excess as body fat and if the cycle continues of always consuming more than you use, you will over time begin to put on weight. As a guide, an average man needs around 2,500kcal (10,500kJ) a day to maintain a healthy body weight. For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000kcal (8,400kJ) a day. These values can vary depending on age, size, and levels of physical activity, among other factors. (so if you use them, make sure it's just as a guide - visit your local dietician for a personal plan).
CALORIES & ENERGY BALANCE
Our bodies are simple, they need energy to keep our organs functioning and when we eat and drink, we put energy into our bodies. This energy is used up in everyday movement simple functions like breathing, sleeping or running. So in order to maintain a stable weight, the energy we put into our bodies must be the same as the energy we use by normal bodily functions + physical activity. So the key here is to find a balance between the energy you put in and the energy you use.
CHECKING CALORIES IN FOOD
Ever seen that little block of nutrition information on the back of a product and thought, "Meh, how do they expect us to understand this?" Understanding the calorie content of the food and drink you consume will help you ensure that you aren't consuming too much. While researching this topic, I came across a cool website that serves as a guide for calories in foods depending on serving size and also gives you an idea of the kind of activity you can do to burn the calories consumed.
Check it out here: Food Search
READING FOOD LABELS
Calorie counting many shop-bought foods is less intimidating than you might think, the information often appears under the "Energy" heading and is given in kcals short for kilocalories and also in kJ which is short for kilojoules. *different names, same thing A "kilocalorie" is another word for what is commonly called a "calorie" so 1,000 calories will be written as 1,000kcals. Kilojoules are the metric measurement of calories. To find the energy content in kilojoules, multiply the calorie figure by 4.2. Many labels will state the number of calories in "one portion" of the food but, keep in mind that the manufacturer's idea of one portion may not be the same as yours. So if you are to make use of the calorie information use it to assess how a particular food would fit into your daily caloric intake.
The more vigorous the physical activity the more calories will be used, example fast walking will burn more calories than walking a moderate pace. So if you find yourself gaining weight it could mean that you are eating and drinking more calories than you are using, so you already know what you need to do to start seeing change - tweak your diet and get physical!