Understanding Your Calorie Intake

Christine Zalnieraite

2020 Jul 29

3 min read

Almost every diet includes a recommended calorie intake. However, very few include the necessary information about what it actually means.
What is a calorie? What are its origins? And most importantly, how do you calculate them in meals? Let’s tackle all of these questions one by one.

What is a calorie?

To put it simply, a calorie is a unit, or a measurement of energy. Our bodies take it from the meals we eat and use it as fuel for everyday tasks – from walking to thinking, sleeping, or even creating new ideas with your brain. Even when we think that we’re not using any energy, our body organs are pumping it out every minute.

Unused calories are then stored as fat. Your body needs it, however, when you consume way more calories than your body can burn, it can easily lead to unwanted weight gain.

-There are “good” and “bad” calories. Nuts, berries, veggies, legumes, eggs, etc. – all of these are considered as “good” calories and should be the foundation of a healthy diet. 

-The “bad” calories usually come from high-sugar food, such as fizzy drinks, bagels, sweets, chocolate bars, burgers, and more. They give you pleasure and make you feel full (for a while), but they don’t provide your body with anything healthy or nutritious. In other words, these are just empty calories.

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How to calculate calories in meals?

Calories help you track your intake, set limits, and achieve desired results. 

Counting them is easy when you’re preparing home-cooked meals. Quite often, the whole “math system” is written on the back of the package. If not, then you need to use measuring cups and spoons – simply add up the numbers you get and see what’s the total.

The foods you choose are just as important. Aim to spread out your carbohydrate intake throughout your day and check if the calories you consume are aligned with your goal. Naturally, your calorie intake can always be adjusted if you suddenly start exercising more, or you feel like your weight isn’t going down even if you follow the diet plan. 

How calories affect weight loss?

To lose weight, you would need to consume fewer calories than you burn each day. That means, you should either cut back on the calories you consume or increase your physical activity to burn them off.  

Cutting back on carbohydrates will also help you to reduce the amount of “bad,” empty calories that your body tends to store. 

Written by

Christine Zalnieraite

Christine is a registered and licensed dietitian (RD, LD) with more than eight years of professional experience. Christine is an expert in dietetics that includes human nutrition and the regulation of the proper individual diet. She alters patient's nutrition based on their medical condition and individual needs. Education: Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Food Safety and two Bachelors of Science - Bachelor in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, and Human Nutrition and Food Safety. Also, she continues to deepen her knowledge in Ph.D. studies of Medical Science and Dietetics.

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