One of the most commonly discussed elements in a weight loss program is calories.  Calories are the basic unit of energy in food that you eat and they are necessary for your life and survival.  However, the amount of energy you need to consume each day depend widely on a number of factors, including your physical activity level, occupation, as well as your body size.  Listed ahead are some important things you ought to know about calories and the ways in which they affect your health.

Calorie Definition: What is a Calorie?

The most basic calorie definition around of a calorie is that it is a unit of heat and it is defined as the amount of energy required to increase one gram of water by one degree Celsius.  Anywhere you look will give this definition and it is mostly a unit of measure in the chemistry world, more than in the food industry.

Food labels provide the total amount of calories you consume per serving and with that you are given a relative indicator of how much energy you are putting in your body.  Following a feeding, your body should expect an increase in temperature as a result.

The U.S. food labels differ from that in any other country.  Other countries have food labels that list your total intake as energy.  So instead of reading a food label that states total calories, you read a label that states energy.  This energy is in units of kcal, or kilocalories, which is the same unit that the U.S. diet uses.

How are Total Calories Generated in Food?

Whenever you read a food label, you see that you have a section dedicated to total calories per serving.  In addition, under this portion, your caloric load is determined by the amount of macro nutrients involved per serving.  These macro nutrients include fat, carbs, and protein and each of these macro nutrients provide differing caloric loads.  Let’s examine this further.


The first macro nutrient you read on any U.S. food label is fat.  Fat is the primary energy source in your body and you can find this macro nutrient in animal and plant sources.  Fats are highly caloric and one gram of fat consumed equals nine calories.  Many adults looking to lose weight go on low fat diets as a way to cut the total energy from your diet, but there are differing views on how to best lose weight.


The next macro nutrient found on a standard U.S. food label is carbohydrates, or simply carbs for short.  Carbs are not as calorically dense as fats, but they are by far the most common macro nutrient in food.  This nutrient is found in grains, fruits, vegetables, sugars, as well as legumes.  One gram of carb consumed offers about four calories, thus making this a lower calorie option than fats, but the difference is it is easy to overconsume carbs.  The standard 2,000 calorie diet suggests that the typical adult eat anywhere from 200-300 grams of carbs each day, which is a range of 800 to 1,200 calories.  In reality, many adults may not realize it, but usual diets are considerably higher than this, which is a major reason for weight gain among a number of adults.  Low carb diets are popular in the weight loss industry and this kind of dieting can be quite effective.


The final piece to the caloric load for a serving of food includes proteins.  Proteins are typically not a primary source of energy; rather, they are consumed as a way to promote cellular growth and repair.  Without this nutrient, the body could not function.  One gram of protein consumed contains roughly four calories, which is identical to carbs.

Why Do we Needs to Count Calories in our Diet?

One of the most common methods in daily dieting programs is counting calories.  Calories are consumed throughout the day whenever you consume any of the mentioned macro nutrients above.  As a result, you should aim to eat only what your body needs so that you can avoid weight gain.  Many adults in the U.S. struggle with counting calories, which is why close to 70 percent of the adult population is considered to be overweight or obese.

Do Excessive Calories Make me Fat?

Counting calories is one of the most important elements when it comes to maintaining your body weight.  The overall body weight management equation is as such: calories in plus calories out equal body weight maintenance.

Any time you eat more calories than what you use throughout the day, your body stores the excess as fat.  If you continuously eat more than you burn off for a long period of time then you will certainly gain weight.  Eat much more than what you need then your weight gain will be much quicker.

How Many Calories do I use throughout the Day?

While eating more calories throughout the day can lead to fast gains in your body weight, there are a small few individuals in the U.S. with high metabolic rates.  Your metabolic rate, or metabolism, is the accumulation of calories that your body needs to perform its most basic functions throughout the day.  The higher this figure is generally means you have more muscle tone and a better fitness level.

However, age plays a major role in your daily metabolic rate and usually this declines as you get older.  With that said, your number of calories that you burn each day will vary each year and it is more than likely different than that of your best friend.  The average metabolic rates for males and females typically range from 1,200 to about 2,400 each day.

How Many Calories do I burn with Exercise?

There are various ways in which you can use the calories you consume so that you can better manage your body weight equation.  Listed ahead are some of the most common methods for burning calories.


Biking is a highly enjoyable activity that many adults do to get in shape and to see a great deal of nature.  In addition to biking being a fun activity, biking can burn calories with the best of them.  A standard adult who weighs about 150 pounds will burn more than 500 calories when working at a moderate pace for an entire hour.  When this activity is increased to vigorous, the calorie burn increases largely depending on how long you can sustain the activity, thus making this a highly effective way to use the energy that you ate.  Many people switch to biking as a fun way to lose weight while being active outdoors.


Running is one of the most common exercises used by adults to burn energy.  For starters, running is the most challenging activity on the body, but it induces some of the most physiologic changes that give you results.  What you burn off while running depends on your distance covered, your time, intensity, track terrain, grade, as well as your level of fitness.  The easiest method for calculating your energy burn with a run is to use an online calculator such as this one.  Let’s say you weigh 150 pounds, ran for a total of six miles in an hour.  Your expected calorie burn would be close to 700 calories, provided this run was a moderate pace for you.  If this was an interval running workout spanning the same distance, you would probably burn more calories.

Weight Lifting

Another common exercise method is weight lifting, but usually this is not a go-to method for weight loss. Weight lifting is important for producing lean muscle mass, which can help to boost your metabolism and help you to burn more energy throughout the day.  However, a standard 150 pound person who performs moderate lifting exercises will use roughly 100-150 calories in a 30 minute workout.  If you increase your intensity to vigorous lifting then your calorie burn is greater.

Do Low Calorie Diets Work for Weight Loss?

Now that you understand more about calories in and calories out, you should have an idea as to what it takes to lose weight.  Many adults switch to low calorie or reduced calorie diets as a way to burn more energy.  Your weight loss is highly accelerated when your energy burned is much higher than calories in.  With that said, low calorie diets are usually preferred methods for weight loss and they should be utilized as a way to boost your success.  However, severe caloric reduction should be performed under the supervision of a weight loss expert, as the body tends to adapt to these kinds of diets by lowering its metabolic rate.

What are Some Low Calorie Diets to Try?

There are various diets aimed at reducing your daily calorie intake to produce weight loss.  Some of the most common low calorie diets include the Atkins diet, keto diet, paleo diet, military diet, diabetes diet, and others.  These diets are generally geared at accelerating your weight loss by cutting back on a macro nutrient that is causing your issues in the first place.  A large majority of diets aim for you to cut back on carbs and increase your protein and fat consumption as a way to lose fat and body weight.

The Conclusion on Calories

When it comes to the foods you eat and the energy you burn throughout the day, following along with your intake is important.  A calorie is a unit of energy that is often used in the chemistry world, but we commonly use it as a way to describe the amount of energy consumed from a food.  Your total amount of intake depends on the number of macro nutrients you consume including fats, carbs, and protein.  Commonly, high fat or high carb diets tend to causes weight gain when consumed for a long time period, which is why adults should monitor calories each day.

Watching your intake in is important for body maintenance, but your level of physical activity can play a major role in weight reduction.  Consider the cardio exercises above as a guide for you to get started on a calorie-burning process.  Any of the listed exercises can help you to burn more than what you eat and it can be a great way to help you to lose weight.  Lastly, consider any of the listed diets as a way to cut back on what you eat so that you can boost your overall weight loss success.

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