By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
When it comes to what we eat, how are calories calculated? And how to measure calories? I dive into all your burning calorie questions, including how many to eat in a day.
Curious about how calories are calculated? And how many calories do you actually need in a day?
Maybe you count calories, maybe you don't. No matter what, probably at least some of your food decisions stem from the calorie counts listed on food labels.
calorie counts 100% accurate, or is there a little wiggle room? And how many calories do you need each day to maintain your weight? What about if you're trying to lose or gain
This calorie stuff can get pretty confusing, which is why I'm here to help. After you give this quickie blog post a read, you'll understand calories a whole let better!
What is a Calorie?
Simply put, a calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a single gram of water by one degree Celsius. In reference to food and nutrition labels, a calorie is a unit of measurement that provides an amount of energy to your body.
Each type of food provides different types of calories. There are calories in grams of protein and grams of fat–and empty calories in grams of sugar. In fact, there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and protein and 9 calories per gram of fat.
When it comes to the number of calories your body needs in a day, everyone's needs differ based on factors such as age, gender, and activity level.
How the Calorie Content in Food is Determined
I have to admit I was pretty psyched to write this article for Reader's Digest about how to measure calories. Truthfully, I didn't know all the ins and outs of how calories are determined.
So how are calories calculated? It's a pretty intricate process, and you can bet it's thorough! Wondering if the calorie counts of foods are listed and rounded the same way in other countries? I'll answer that question, too!
How Many Calories Do You Actually Need Per Day?
We hear about calories all the time, but do you actually know if you're eating the right amount? It can be helpful to have an idea of your ideal calorie range.
Weight loss is a lot more complex than calories in versus calories out. But start with answering this question: Are you eating the right amount of calories for your body?
The difference in how many calories you need to eat daily to gain, maintain, or lose weight isn't all that drastically different. How do you determine these numbers? Are calories the be all, end all of healthy eating? And what about the best weight-loss plan for men? I get to the bottom of all these burning questions in my article for Fox News.
Once you get a feel for how eating this amount of calories feels, you don't necessarily need to count calories—especially if you choose mostly whole foods and focus on eating your meals mindfully.
I also like to include lots of nutrient-dense vegetables throughout the day (like my veggie-packed Citrus Quinoa Salad with Prunes) so I can fill up without focusing too much on the numbers.
P.S. If you want to know even more on this topic, one of my favorite books about calories is Why Calories Count by Marion Nestle.
This blog post was updated in January 2021.
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I'd love to hear from you! What else do you want to know about calculating calories?
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