What are calories?

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We are always hearing the word calorie mentioned in association with food. Calorie can be represented by the symbol C. But, what exactly is a calorie? What is a calorie in terms of food? Are calories bad? Why do we need calories?

What is a calorie?
We are all aware that food contains energy. So, therefore, the foods we consume gives us energy. If we are hungry and don't have the energy to do work we eat and we have energy. Calories are the measure of the amount of energy that are released from foods when we eat them. Our bodies break down the foods that we eat and energy is released.


When you're eating foods and drinking drinks, you're consuming calories (with the exception of foods and drinks that don't have calories). How many calories you consume can affect your health in a good or bad way. For obese people, they are consuming way too many calories. Also, consuming too few calories can lead to malnutrition.

An individual calorie requirement may differ from that of another. Factors like size, gender, age, weight, physical activities and metabolism are the factors that determine a person's calorie requirement. For e.g. males require more calories than females and infants require less than both.

Our bodies need calories and we can obtain it from food.
The size or amount of a food does not indicate how many calories a food contains. So, therefore, a large food can contain fewer calories than a smaller food. A small piece of fried chicken will have more calories than a bowl of lettuce and ten pieces of fried chicken will have more calories than one piece.

Fat contains the most calories.

Are calories bad? Why do we need calories?
Calories can be bad if you consume too many. Calories are good, in fact, it's necessary because they are needed by our bodies - we cannot survive without calories. Our bodies use calories to produce energy and heat.


People often dread calories! They often think weight gain when it comes to them. Calories are necessary for our bodies to function, but always keep in mind that too much of a good thing can be bad for us. So, too many calories are bad for us because our bodies store the excess as fats. It will keep adding to that stored fat if we keep eating excess.

Related: The best ways to lose weight

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