Food Calories


A calorie is a unit of measure used to indicate the energy value of a particular food or beverage. Counting calories is a time-honored method of weight control. It is a simple formula. When the energy you consume equals the energy you expend, your weight remains the same. If you take in more calories than you use up through your metabolism, daily activities, and exercise, you will gain weight. If you take a fewer calories than your body needs, you will lose weight.

Of course, it is not all that simple to lose or gain weight, as the number of weight loss books and programs available attests. It appears that the calories from certain foods, especially fats and oils, are handled differently by the body. An individual's metabolism has a big part to play as well. If your metabolism has slowed because of repeated sessions of dieting, or if it has been boosted by a program of physical activity, your ability to gain or lose weight is similarly confounded or enhanced.

We need to maintain a concern about the amount of calories we put on a plate, since over-consumption of calories, in combination with a lack of exercise, is the major cause of overweight - one of a leading health problems. This health hazard can become manifest in a number of secondary diseases. High blood pressure, eating disorders, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and diabetes have all been linked to overweight and obesity. Arthritis is aggravated by carrying around extra pounds. Sleeping problems, back problems, food problems, and a variety of emotional disorders have all been shown to have a direct correlation to overweight and obesity.

Empty Calories

All nutrients provide calories. Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories in each gram. Fats contain more than double the number of calories with 9 per gram. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. Foods that have been significantly refined sometimes offer nothing beyond calories. Processing and refining often strips away those elements from the food that your body needs, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Alcohol also offers no nutritive elements for your body. These calories from highly refined foods and alcohol are know as empty calories.

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