Calories are talked about everywhere. Especially in the case of a diet, or fitness, but also when stabilizing weight. Weight and calories are very much linked: we lose weight thanks to lower calorie intake, we gain weight when there is an excess.
What is a calorie?
A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy. Our body needs the energy to function, this energy is a calorie. Calories are therefore our energy engine.
In terms of health, we often deal with kilocalories, often indicated per 100g of food.
1 calorie represents about 4.18 Joules. The Joule is the international unit of measurement for energy values.
What are the calories used for?
They are one of our most basic needs, related to the need to eat. They are our fuel to keep our bodies functioning throughout the day. Every day we burn calories through our daily physical activity and we also consume calories through eating.
Today, in this age of dieting and well-being, we often tend to believe that a calorie is dangerous and that it is only there to make us gain a few pounds. But a calorie is much more beneficial than that!
All food is composed of calories, which will be our energy. In the course of a single day, the body will constantly spend this energy that they constitute: by moving, we will, of course, spend them. But our body also has a great need for them, day and night. Indeed, to think, the brain needs it, as well as the heart, the lungs, etc and also to think.
They serve, quite simply, to provide us with enough energy to keep our body and organism functioning properly. That is why it is not advisable to eat much less than we need. The body would be undernourished and would not be able to make the same efforts, which could be harmful to our health.
Where do we find them?
In food and drink. Food or drink is an energy intake because it contains calories.
Food brings together several large families:
- Carbohydrates (sugar)
- Lipids (fatty acids)
- Proteins (amino acids, proteins, peptides)
Each of these families does not have the same energy intake. Carbohydrates, sugar, provide a large amount of energy but will have a short action. They will be quickly assimilated by the body and stored if they are not spent quickly. A sweet soda will provide 140 kilocalories, compared to an apple, which contains only about 50 kilocalories. The apple, in terms of energy, will be slower to assimilate than the soda.
Among the biggest energy intakes, the caloric intakes, we have sugars, bad fats, and alcohol. This is what we’re going to call rich foods. They are not rich by chance but their caloric intake is enormous.
Caloric intake requirements
Caloric requirements vary according to many parameters, including age and gender. It is estimated that a woman’s daily caloric requirement is approximately 1800 kilocalories. For a man, 2000 kilocalories.
To calculate the number of calories you need daily, simply calculate your basal metabolic rate
Depending on our daily activity, we will have a greater need for caloric intake or a lesser need. Usually, the body tells us that if we are hungry, which our body is asking for, it needs it.
Weight and caloric intake
The body regulates itself; it knows what it needs and how much it needs. Our weight is stable as long as the daily caloric expenditure equals the intake.
In other words, if we have a too low intake, the body will have to draw on its reserves and there will be a loss of weight. This is the principle of most diets.
If the caloric intake is too high compared to what is needed, the body will store, which will lead to weight gain.