Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Calories for dummies

What in the world are calories and why are they here? We need them, but we can’t have too much of them. They’re healthy and unhealthy at the same time. But they don’t even really exist as the word itself is just a form of measurement. So why are many people obsessing over their calorie count? And why do some people don’t even know what they are? Why are fast-food joints taking so much heat on producing food with gazillions of them? What is it really all about? Today, we hope to clear all misconceptions and set the record straight. We’ve abridged most of the things to know about calories, broken them down to the simplest terms and came up with this concise, but highly informative, FAQ. 

1. What is a calorie? A calorie is a unit of energy. It is recommended that we consume a regular amount of calories on a daily basis for us to function. Different kinds of foods contain different numbers of calories. Here are the basics: one gram of carbohydrates contains four calories, one gram of protein also has four and one gram of fat equals nine calories. 

2. Can a person just have one source of calories? Yes, a person can but they shouldn’t. A balanced diet is always suggested. Ideally, about 50 percent of the calorie intake should come from carbs, 20 percent from protein and 30 percent from fat. However, fat is tricky. We should consume fat from monounsaturated sources. Otherwise is unhealthy. 

3. What happens to calories? When we eat, food is broken down by the digestive system and is either used up through cellular and physical activities. When we walk, breathe or just move any part of our body, a small amount is being burned. The unused energy is stored as body fat. Roughly 3,500 stored calories equates to a pound of body fat. 

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