Calories: How much is too much?
Calories... how much in a bar of chocolate? In an ice cream?

Divya wants to lose weight and everytime she eats something she thinks of calories and wonders how fattening the food is.

A calorie is a unit of energy which means the amount of energy we receive from the food we eat.  Calories are used by our body in order to carry out bodily functions such as breakdown (digestion and absorption) of food. High caloric value food provides more energy to your body. However, when you eat more calories than your body needs, it gets stored as body fat.

The "Calorie" we refer to in food is Kcal; 1Kcal is the same as 1 cal. Our body uses three main nutrients (macronutrients) to function: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each gram of carbohydrate and proteins provides four Kcal of energy, whereas a gram of fat provides nine Kcal. For example, 1 tsp (5ml) of cooking oil will provide 45Kcal, 1tsp of sugar (5gms) provides 20Kcal.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) an estimated calorie requirement for an adult sedentary man, is nearly 2100Kcal per day whereas for adult sedentary women, it is 1600Kcal per day. These calorie requirements differ, depending on the person's body type (assessment of your body fat, muscle mass, water content in your body), lifestyle and level of physical activity. Additionally, pregnant women or lactating mothers require more than 2000Kcal per day.

For people who are looking for weight loss it is important that:
  • Their calorie intake is less than the amount of calories they burn through physical activity.
  • They choose food wisely - avoiding foods that provide "empty calories". Empty calories come from foods and drinks that have high sugar, fat, or alcohol content, but little or no other nutritional value such as cakes, cookies, and donuts, processed meats, energy drinks and sodas, canned fruit juices, ice creams, chips and fries and pizzas.
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