Calories: What are Calories?
Written by Diet Bites
Information on calories: What they are, why we need them and how many to keep our body in a state of optimum health.
Calories Defined in the Daily Diet
Without calories, we wouldn't feel like going out and having fun at the mall on those days when we call in sick to work.
So what are calories? Why do we need them?
In simple layman's language the word 'calorie' is another word for 'energy'.
This is how the body recognizes the energy in the foods and beverages we consume in the daily diet:
- Foods and beverages in the daily diet are based on caloric content rather than energy content.
- The body recognizes caloric content as energy content.
- The body needs the calories in the foods we eat to use as energy to fuel the body's needs.
- Calories reside in almost 100% of the foods that we eat. Even evil-tasting rice cakes contain calories - but you sure wouldn't think they would. Anything that tastes like cardboard shouldn't contain calories, but yes they do.
- Zero calorie foods are commonly referred to as foods with 'empty calories', offering zero nutritional values.
When you think about your mode of transportation, why type of fuel do you put in the tank? Would you ever consider putting kerosene in the tank? What about natural gas? Batteries in the fuel tank? While all of these components work to produce energy, they are considered poor sources of fuel for vehicles.
Just like the foods within the daily diet; while we have a plethora of tasty foods to choose from, some foods make better choices than other foods.
While a donut tastes heavenly, our body would be happier if we fed it an apple - just like Eve did to Adam. Or was it a pomegranate?
Nonetheless, the point is when we choose foods that are healthier choices we are fueling our body with nutrition. Our energy level will be higher than if we'd opted for the donut over the apple unless we also consumed three cups of full-blown coffee with the donut as caffeine is a natural stimulant.
As to the different types of fuels, some years back my husband and I were returning home from a camping trip in our ancient jalopy. We've never been rich - never will be. People are either born extra good looking or rich; unfortunately I was overlooked in both categories. Nonetheless, we were driving on fumes and ran out of fuel before we reached a station. My husband used the camping fuel we had leftover to add to the tank. While it wasn't the best fuel for our vehicle, we made it home.
This situation is sort of like enjoying the unhealthier food over the healthier food. While both foods offer energy for the body, the better food choice of the apple over the donut assists the body in running smoother and longer.
Calories Defined in Activity, The Calorie Burn
We've all heard the phrase 'the calorie burn'. For me the phrase depicts a raging pit of fire with me tossing calories into it; trouble is - most weight loss plans go up in smoke when it comes to adding exercise to the daily routine. A restricted-calorie diet is difficult enough to follow - but we have to add all that huffing and puffing to the equation to speed-up weight loss. It's just not much fun, is it? I'm getting all hot and sweaty just thinking about it.
But the bottom line is that when we incorporate activity and exercise into our daily diet the body burns calories - remember that calories equal energy. This is important to remember because the types of food that we fuel the body with will impact the way we feel amid exercise as well as throughout the day.