A calorie is a unit of energy contained in foods and beverages. When you eat or drink something, your body uses calories for energy. However, calories in excess of what your body can use are stored as fat. That means that individuals who want to maintain their current weight must eat only the calories he or she can use, and those who want to lose weight must eat fewer calories than they use each day so that their body must burn fat for calories. Taking in the right amount of calories is essential to health and fitness, but with so many different foods to choose from, this can be easier said than done.
Calculating Calories in Food
Every food has a different caloric value. Foods that are high in fats and carbohydrates generally have more calories than those that are low in protein or fiber. For example, an apple has about 80 calories and a chocolate chip cookie has about 450 calories. Memorizing the caloric values of different foods is nearly impossible, but there are a number of tools available to help. There are a number of calorie calculators online or available for mobile devices, and calorie counts are posted on all prepackaged foods. A growing number of restaurants also list calorie counts on their menus or online.
How Many Calories a Person Needs
The number of calories a person needs is determined by a number of variables. These include the individual’s age, weight and activity level. Regular exercise or physical activity burns calories and also tends to make an individual’s resting metabolic rate higher. This means that the individual burns more calories when sleeping or sitting around than someone who doesn’t exercise regularly. Younger individuals also tend to burn calories more quickly than older ones, as do taller and larger people. To find out exactly how many calories you should be consuming, consult with a doctor or nutritionist.
Calories are burned through physical activity. Even sitting still watching television or sleeping burns calories. Vigorous physical activity and exercise that raises the heart rate burns more calories, but may not burn as many as you think. For example, running a marathon burns about 2,500 calories, which is the equivalent of fewer than three cheeseburger combo meals from a fast food restaurant.
Getting the right number of calories doesn’t have to be difficult. We offer online tools that can help you track your calories and plan your diet so that you consume a healthy number. Check out our calorie counters and diet planners today.