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What are Calories? Definition & Explanation

by Daniel Muse

Calories play an important role, especially to allow a person to function normally in their day-to-day lives. It typically refers to the energy we get from our food. And truly knowing about these energy-givers will tell you what are calories and what role does it play in your life. When you generally buy packaged food items, including sodas and canned iced coffee, you will find the nutritional information of the food. This information also includes the number of calories your food item contains.

So, in a way, calories help a person lose weight by taking care of their calories intake. Other than that, it also keeps you maintaining a fit and healthy life while protecting you from serious diseases, including malnourishment, marasmus, anemia, and vitamin deficiency. But don’t worry! If you are new to the world of calories, then this article is for you. This article will tell you everything you must know about ‘Calories.’

What are Calories?

In simple words, calories are energy that your body requires to survive. Calories come from the food you eat and any liquid item you drink. However, there are two different types of calories; a small calorie and a large calorie. A small calorie, aka cal, is the quantity of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram by 1 degree celsius.

On the other hand, a large calorie, aka kcal, is the quantity of energy needed to raise 1-kilogram of water by 1-degree celsius. Interestingly, calories are not only present in our food or the coke we drink. As we mentioned earlier, a calorie is a form of energy, and naturally, every possible place around us has energy. For example, one kilogram of coal has 7,000,000 calories.

Calories by Food Type

Now, if you think about what are calories used for in the body, you know it is to simply transfer the energy so you can perform or survive your day-to-day life. However, it is also important to know the right amount of calories you must intake. The following are the three primary components of food with their calorie values:

  • 1 gram of fat has 9 kcal
  • 1 gram of protein has 4 kcal
  • Lastly, 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 kcal

This division helps you determine the number of calories you get from the food that you consume daily.

Calories and Health

In general, calories are one of the most important things you need to function properly. In fact, without the right amount of calories, your body can undergo several deadly diseases, and no longer calories can lead to death. If your body does not get enough calories or gets no calories at all, your lungs and heart will stop functioning as well.



Without the energy, the cells inside your body will begin to die. Everything we eat or drink gives us energy, and that energy comes from the calories present in the food. When you begin to maintain the intake of calories, not only will you defeat nutritional deficiencies but also prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes, and blood pressure from attacking your lifestyle. Additionally, it can lead to better growth and body development.

Recommended Daily Caloric Intake

Even though some experts suggest the average number of calories a person must intake, the recommended daily caloric intake is mostly based on:

  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body type and shape
  • Overall health

Type of Physical Activity You are Associated With

The factors mentioned above play a huge role in deciding the number of calories one must intake is simply because not all bodies function the same way. Different people have different kinds of lifestyles and burn their energy differently. While some are athletes, others are homemakers or regular office goers.

How to Count Calories

Counting calories are somewhat easier, as you can mostly check out the nutritional info available at the back of the packaged food. However, knowing the exact amount of calories your body needs may be tough.

But, thanks to advanced technologies, you can now count your calories with the help of an online calculator. If your goal is to cut off extra calories, you can set a calorie goal. This will help you deficit calories and lose weight quickly.

What are High-calorie Foods?

So, now if you wonder what foods are high in calories? Then the list is a simple answer to your question:

  • Meat
  • Tofu
  • Avocados
  • Salmon
  • Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Milk
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Granola

What are low-calorie foods?

Just like high-calorie foods, we also have low-calorie foods. But if you wonder what are low-calorie foods? The following is your answer:

  • Oats
  • Soup
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Different types of berries
  • Eggs
  • Popcorn
  • Chia seeds
  • Cottage cheese
  • Potatoes
  • Fishes like halibut
  • Lean meat
  • Watermelon
  • Legumes

What are Empty Calories?

Now, what are empty calories? Foods that provide energy but have very little or almost no nutritional value are empty calories. In other words, foods that do not offer vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and dietary fiber to your body are empty calories. However, it came from two main sources; solid fats and added sugar.

The following are the list items that transfer empty calories to your body:

  • Cake
  • Icecream
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Ribs
  • Pastrie
  • Cookies
  • Pizza
  • Hotdogs
  • Donuts
  • Sports and energy drinks
  • soda

Final Thoughts

Now that you know calories, you also know how important it is for you to make sure that you and your family consume the right amount and right type of calories. It will keep you healthy fit and help you function properly in your life. However, not every person requires the same amount of calories. For more information about calories and your body, consult an expert.

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