In our everyday lives, all of us at some point may have come across the word “calories.” For some people, this word may hold a significant importance in making sure that they have the ‘right amount’ for the day while other might just let its significance go.
It has become a global phenomenon to mention the calories intake in a particular food item and in some countries, companies are forced to mention them on their packaged food by law. It is important not only for a more aware society but at the same time making sure that the threatening levels of obesity prevailing worldwide is kept under check.
What are calories?
In scientific terms, calories or just one calorie can be defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of water by one degree Celsius. Another term which now gets frequently used is kilocalorie which essentially is the amount of heat requirement needed to raise a kilogram body of water by one degree Celsius.
For nutritionists or dieters, calories are the intake of energy in the form of food we eat in our everyday lives. Some food items like fried chicken, pizza may contain a huge amount of calories (sometimes more than the daily requirement), while other liquid items like water may essentially contain zero calories!
Why is it important to measure calories?
All the food we eat in our daily lives goes through the process of digestion or being broken down into smaller particles. These smaller particles contain energy and are absorbed by different organs, muscles, tissues of the body so they can function properly. Without a proper intake of energy, a function might not be performed hence causing more medical complications.
The calories in a food item can be categorized as the energy provided by that food. If there are calories, there is going to be energy. However, what needs to be noted here is that each of the body systems possesses a limited capacity or in other words requires a restricted amount of energy. Deviations from the required amount can be dangerous for the person in the long term. Therefore, it becomes pertinent to make sure that the right number of calories are taken.
If the intake surpasses the required amount, the body starts to store the excess energy or calories in the form of fat which in turn leads to obesity. According to the US website “Healthline”, one out of every third adult is obese (32.5 per cent) and one out of every six children (26 per cent) suffers from the obesity menace.
This problem then further develops into severe medical complications like Heart Disease and Diabetes, the former becoming the major cause of deaths every year.
How many calories should you be consuming every day?
With reference to a similar survey conducted by Healthline Website, it was found that American citizens today consume 23 percent more calories than they did back in 1970. For a variety of reasons this data is alarming, and the cause can be attributed to the ever-growing fast food industry.
The question which then arises is what amount is the right amount?
To answer this question, US Health Government published an article with the title “Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2015-2020” stating that the intake of calories can range from 1000 to 3200 depending upon the age, gender, and physical routine primarily. An infant requires a daily amount of just 1000 calories while an active male aged between 16 to 18 would require around 3200 calories per day.
Women of age group 19 onwards require a daily intake ranging from 2000 to 2500 calories owing to menstruation and childbirth period.
As most of the body systems slow down after surpassing a certain age, medical scientists and nutritionist agree that people of age 51 and above would require 1900 calories on average. This is because with other bodily systems, metabolic rate, which is the time taken for the food to be broken down, tends to be slow. Therefore to avoid the problems associated with obesity in the later age, a high-calorie intake diet is not recommended.
For obvious reasons, people working in harsh conditions like in the areas of Siberia, where temperature tends to remain low throughout the year, would require a higher intake to heat up their body. Similarly, athletes or people involved in doing physically demanding tasks will have a higher calorie requirement than of a normal person.
What are some tips for a healthy lifestyle?
As has been established through various studies and researches that a balanced number of calories should be taken to avoid medical conditions like obesity. It is also important at the same time to make sure that certain dietary elements are taken in their right amount. A lot of times, owing to general unawareness, people continue to consume a particular food item that possesses a high number of calories.
For example, guacamole, which has become a recent American favorite can contain up to 360 calories in just one single cup. One large 14” hand tossed pepperoni pizza contains an estimate of 2400 calories which is essentially more than the daily intake for an average person. A normal sized KFC zinger will have up to 500 calories with a breakdown of 45% fat.
Hence, to keep a healthy lifestyle in check, one needs to make sure that food items that are deep-fried or contain a great amount of fat should be avoided. Carbohydrates and Proteins should be consumed more as they both tend to be the source of energy for the body to function.
Apart from that, though excessive unchecked munching is unhealthy, nutritionist recommend regular meals with a strong emphasis on having a healthy breakfast to make up for the day. A healthy breakfast to necessarily include a glass of milk, and eggs(boiled to be preferred). Soft drinks and liquor containing a high amount of sugar are to be avoided as they contribute a major reason towards obesity.
Lastly, scheduling out time for exercise should be a high priority. Exercising not only helps in burning fat more easily but can be one major way of channeling out stress out of our daily lives. The type of exercise to be done depends upon the ability of the person. A middle-aged person should opt for swimming to burn calories faster than any other form and to avoid pain in bones and joints in the long term. While older age group should prefer brisk walk as it can be one effective way of keeping fit in that age.
Am I taking the right amount?
Is the question that should be answered by everyone. It is important that all of us keep a regular check on our diets and make sure that our meal plans contribute towards a healthy lifestyle.
To do so, we need to make sure that the food we consume has the “nutrition information” stated on the package so we can be calculative enough to sort out our daily requirements. Needless to say, it is highly important that our consumption of soft drinks and fast food products remain as limited as possible.