What are calories? You always hear people talking about calories! Sometimes, they’re counting them. Sometimes, they’re avoiding them. And other times, they’re increasing them. A calorie is not actually something that you can taste, touch, see, or feel. A calorie is not a food item that you eat. It is simply a way of measuring the potential chemical energy contained within a food item. You can use calories to measure the potential energy of pretty much anything including gasoline, kerosene, and anything else combustible. You confused yet?
Definition of a Calorie
Let me start with the basic scientific definition of a calorie. A calorie is the amount of energy that it takes to raise the temperature of one milliliter of water by one degree Celsius. Our bodies burn fats and sugars that we ingest. This system of measurement inside of food is most easily measured by using the calorie measurement.
Calories are completely independent from the nutrients. Calories are not protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals. We use calories as a way to measure the amount of potential energy that we are ingesting into our body.
The amount of calories that your body burns can vary wildly. It is determined by a large variety of factors. These factors include how fast your body burns energy naturally, the intensity of physical labor that you do on a daily basis, and a variety of other factors.
To make it simple, there are 3 states that your body exists in:
1. Gaining weight, which is a calorie surplus.
2. Stagnant weight, which is calorie neutral.
3. Losing weight, which is a calorie deficiency.
Just to recap. Remember, calories are simply a way of measuring the potential energy inside of food. Keep track of your calories. Keeping this information in mind will help us as we move through the meal planning section and allow us to make better food choices. It is a great idea to record this information. It will help your dietitian with recommendations for your specific situation.