I queried my posse of nutrition-minded friends. “What IS a calorie?”
While most people know what a calorie does – gives us energy, fuels us, and sometimes if we eat enough of them, adds weight to our bodies – they’re not exactly sure how to define it.
A calorie is a unit of heat. It is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one(1) gram of water one (1) degree Celsius. All calories come from either carbohydrates, proteins, fats or alcohol.
• Each gram of carbs contains 3.75 calories.
• Each gram of fat contains 9 calories.
• Each gram of protein contains 4 calories.
• Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories.
Calories listed on food packages are actually kilocalories (1,000 calories = 1 kilocalorie). A food calorie contains 4,184 joules. A joule is a unit of energy. (A calorie is a measure of energy.) Four joules is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
Most of us think of calories in relation to food (and weight), as in “This piece of cake has 360 calories. I’ll blow my entire day if I eat this.”
A calorie is also a unit of measurement of energy produced by food when it is used in the body. We need calories to fuel us. If we ingest more fuel into our bodies than we need for the amount of activity we do, our bodies will store this unused fuel. It may be stored as fat, or muscle, if we perform enough muscle-building exercises (i.e. weightlifting).
It’s a simple matter of calories in and calories burned. You “burn” calories (fuel) when you perform physical activities, and you also burn calories just by sitting still, breathing and even thinking. A person who is physically active can eat more calories each day without gaining weight, because this person is using the fuel she pumps into her body, rather than storing it!
Are all calories created equal?
Calories from fat are easily converted to body fat – only 3 percent of these calories are used up in the conversion process. Carb-calories, by comparison, are less easily converted to body fat, as up to 25 percent of these calories are used up in the conversion process. (Something for the anti-Carb people to think about.)
25 Treats Under 300 Calories
Spread the word … NOT the icing!
Janice Taylor is a Life & Wellness Coach, Cert. Hypnotist, author,columnist, seminar leader and 50 pound big-time-loser.
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About Our Lady Of Weightloss"Janice Taylor is a 'kooky genius'"
~ O, The Oprah Magazine
Janice Taylor is a Weight Loss Coach and Certified Hypnotist, author, artist and motivational speaker. She is the author of Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal and All Is Forgiven, Move On: Our Lady of Weight Loss's 101 Fat-Burning Steps on Your Journey to Sveltesville (publication date May 15, 2008). Janice is also the creator of the popular e-newsletter Kick in the Tush Club and a 50-pound big-time-loser.
Books By Janice:
- 10 Simple Steps: How to Survive a Tough Day
- End the Madness: Create a Better _____ ?
- Motivational Musing: Yes? Yes! Yes?
- Motivational Monday: The Psychology of Body Esteem
- Coach Yourself Thinnish: Expect a Miracle
- Click Yourself Thinnish: Dogs Listen, do you?
- Jean Nidetch, founder Weight Watchers, Dies at 91
- Kick in the Tush Tuesday: Showing Up Matters!
- Puzzled? How to Wear a Tomato
- #OneWord Thursday: #Sunrise – Wake Up Already!!!