Sunday, March 28, 2010

Understanding the concept of calories

Calories can be difficult to understand because you hear so many different things from different sources. But here is the basic idea: your body needs a certain amount of energy per day to function properly .i.e. to digest food, walk, talk, exercise, etc. The amount of energy your body needs depends on your weight, age, gender, and how active you are. We get calories from food, and through metabolism, these calories are converted into energy. So the amount of energy your body needs is directly proportionate to how many calories you need.

If you consume more calories than your body needs, your body stores the excess as fat. When you work out, you burn the excess calories; which means you are essentially burning off the fat. This is how you maintain your body fat ratio. This is why it’s important to understand that there's no magical way to lose weight. It comes down to two things: exercise and diet.

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in every day. Visit for a tool to help estimate how many calories you burn per day based on your age, weight, gender, and level of activity. Note: it’s just an estimate. The amount of time it’ll take you to lose weight just depends on how many calories you eat minus how many calories you burn daily. When this value - i.e. amount you take in minus amount you burn - gets to about 3,500 calories, you have effectively lost about 1 pound or 0.45 kilograms (since 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat).

Different levels of physical activity burn different number of calories depending on intensity. Please visit for a summary of about how many calories are burned with different types of exercises.

If you have more questions, please leave a comment or start a discussion on the Eights and Weights Facebook page here. Also, if there are individual fitness topics you'd like to hear more about, please leave a note on the Facebook page.

My motto for the week: To truly live better, strive to understand what your body needs.


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