Calories Part II: Bodyweight

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My last post outlined what a calorie is: the unit of measurement to represent the amount of energy in food. The calorie number in foods comes from the individual elements that makes up the food: carbohydrates, protein and fat. I’ll cover this in my next post on macronutrients

To lose weight, the body needs to be receiving less calories than it burns (a calorie deficit). To gain weight, the body needs to get more calories than it burns (a calorie surplus). To maintain weight, you need to eat the same number of calories that you burn (maintenance). If someone eats too many calories (too much food) the body can’t use it all as energy, so it stores the excess energy as fat (1) this is how weight gain occurs. There are no bad foods, or anything specific that causes weight gain, it is simply eating too much

The most common reason that people start tracking calories is to lose weight. It’s very difficult to guess the calories in food if you’ve had no experience doing it; two tiny biscuits might have 100 calories, or something you think is really healthy might be really high calories (eg. avocado). If something is ‘healthy’ this does not mean it is low calorie. This is important to understand, think about that for a minute. Tracking calories can be really eye-opening to how much energy is really in the food that we eat every day

I will do a detailed post on using the calorie tracking method as a diet, but that’s a here’s a quick overview: People usually start tracking their calories consumed so that they can control the amount of food their are eating. This involves figuring out the amount of calories you burn in a day and then eating less calories than this number… in order to lose weight. Some people track calories to gain weight, to make sure they are eating enough to fuel their performance, or gain muscle.

“Weight gain is the result of an imbalance between total energy intake (TEI) and total energy expenditure (TEE)” ” energy intake (food) is metabolized and used to fuel basal metabolism, thermogenesis and our energy expenditure (physical activity). Any excess is stored as fat in adipose cells for later use.” (1)

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2687326/

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