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Many People do not realize that calories are actually separated into 2 categories.  There is a small calorie (usually written with a lower case "c") and a large Calorie (written with a capital "C").  A small calorie is mostly used in chemistry and it is the amount of energy used to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.  A large Calorie is the term most associated with food and nutrition.  One Calorie is actually referred to as a kilocalorie, meaning it is equal to 1,000 calories.  That's right, when you consume something that says is contains 100 Calories, in reality it is actually 100,000 calories.  You can see why we use the large Calorie when referring to our nutrition.

So the question is: how does all of this information contribute to me losing weight?  The answer seems quite simple: As long as you are burning off more calories than you are putting in, then weight loss will occur.

We must use more energy than we put in.  But first you have to understand just how many calories are need for basic living.  This is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR); the

amount of energy needed for you to survive without adding

extra activities nor extra foods into your life.  This includes 

the calories needed for your body to do it's basic needs;

things like breathing, digestion, brain functioning, blood

circulation, along with others. Using this number, and adding

extra calories into the diet to account for additional physical

activities, we can come up with the daily amount of calories

needed for an individual: around 2000kcal for women and

2500kcal for men.  

This, however, does not mean that every person should be aiming for these numbers to lose or maintain weight.  More strenuous physical activities will burn up more calories, causing you to need more to continue on.  Every person's BMR is also slightly different, factoring in things like age and gender.  For example: elderly persons' BMR is much slower than a young person's.  Also pregnant women will require more calories, as their bodies are working much harder than normal.

Finally, when counting calories, you can not assume all calories are equal in food.  The calorie count on labels, for example, is how many calories are in the food and not how many calories you body can use.  In the case of celery and other fibrous foods, your body will actually use more calories to digest it, causing it to have "negative calories" in your system.  Every person will also extract calories from foods differently; this may depend on enzyme levels, gut bacteria and other factors.  Also some foods have more nutrients, like proteins, vitamins and minerals, than do other foods.  Eating foods with less of these nutrients may lead you to gain weight and become malnourished, instead of losing it.

This all being said, losing weight isn't always as easy as counting calories.  With things like food type, metabolic rates, gender, age, enzyme levels and other factors it is very difficult to actually understand how many calories we may actually need.  However, using a calorie count, along with eating nutritious foods and plenty of physical activity, we can start to uncover the best ways for us to lose weight and stay healthy.


What is a calorie?

And how many should I be consuming each day?