Many people in the world are under-educated about proper nutrition and how to read food labels properly. This is causing an obesity problem which is turning into an epidemic in first world countries. People are realizing this and becoming concerned with their weight however some are still not sure how to combat the problem. Understanding calories and the recommended intake for a specific body type is the first big step to helping an individual to achieve their weight goals.
Lets begin with the definition of a calorie to understand it better. A calorie is just a unit of energy. Calories in a body are used as an energy source and fuel to keep the body moving. The calories are burned by a person's metabolism which breaks down the foods that have been consumed and determines how the body will use the fuel that it has been given. Typically, food macro-nutrients will be broken down and used by the body's cells. Calories will be used for energy and those calories that are not currently being used towards powering the body will be stored for a later use. These stored calories are stored as fat. Knowing how many calories the body needs to perform daily functions is important. By eating an appropriate amount of calories and burning them off will usually result in a loss of weight, while eating more calories than the body can use will result in stores of fat and a weight gain.
How many calories a person needs is decided by several variables. A person's age, current weight, activity level, and hormonal balance all play a part in determining a healthy calorie intake. A person who is younger, such as a child or teen, will need more calories than an adult. Their body is still growing and will be burning calories to do so. A person's current size can determine how quick energy is used and if there are stored energy reserves that can be used. Activity level will determine how many calories a person burns throughout the day. Those who have a profession that keep them moving throughout the day will burn more calories than those at a desk. On average, women need around 2,000 calories a day while men will need around 2,500. Men require a little more than women due to their higher ratio of muscle to fat.
In order to calculate a person's specific caloric needs, their Basal Metabolic Rate would need to be determined. The Basal Metabolic Rate will tell a person how many calories they need to function at a resting rate and to maintain the same weight they are currently at. If a person is looking to lose or gain weight, then they will need to consume a different number of calories than what their Basal Metabolic Rate is. In order to lose one pound per week a person will need to cut 500 calories a day from their current caloric intake.
A calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from however, there are better choices to make to help fuel your body. Sugary foods will not satisfy your body or its hunger like protein or healthy fats will. Read food labels and educate yourself on your food before you consume it.
Counting calories to stay on track with your weight goals is important. It will allow a person to be aware of how much energy they are putting into their body and how much energy they will need to expend to balance those numbers. Please bear in mind that a person should never consume less than 1,000 calories a day.