Calories – Who, What and Why?

Calories – Who, What and Why?
Calories – Who, What and Why?

Calories, simply put, are units of energy - Energy that human beings require for survival. This essential energy comes from foods that contain calories. These calories that are obtained from food are either used up for energy or are stored for future use as required depending upon the calorie consumption by humans through food.

Calories come from macronutrient sources like carbs, proteins, and fats. Although water is a macronutrient too, it has zero calories. All the food that we have consumed on this earth is nothing but a combination of carbs, proteins, and fats in different ratios. It is crucial to realize that even though carbs, proteins, and fats are what give your body calories, they are processed in your body differently.

While 1g of Carb will give you 4Kcal which is similar to what 1g of protein gives you, 1g of fat will give you 9Kcal. 1 Kcal i.e., 1 kilo Calorie is equal to 1000 calories. Distinguishing this is important because, in the present day scenario, nutritional labels use calories instead of Kcal as a reference.

Nutritional consultants, health experts, and dieticians believe that going on a calorie restrictive diet is ideal for fat loss. Let me tell you why this belief is so popular.

The explanation for this comes from logic. Putting it in simple words – Let us say that a human being requires an ‘x’ amount of calories in order to survive. These calories are dependent on individual Basal Metabolic Rate aka BMR and daily activities. Let us consider a person whose BMR is 1000 calories and his daily activities require another 500 calories. This will make the total calorie requirement per day to be 1500 Cal.

Now, let us say that this person consumes more than the requisite 1500 calories per day. What happens to the excess? These extra calories are stored in the body as triglycerides in fat cells or as we call it ‘body fat’.
Imagine this person, consumes lesser than the requisite amount- say 1200 calories. The body covers up for the lack of 300 required calories by breaking down previously stored body fat or through the breakdown of muscles in order to get the calories needed.

This is precisely why for a person who wishes to lose their excess body fat, a slightly calorie-restricted diet goes a long way to help them. But, New Age Science says differently. 1 cal of Carb, 1 cal of protein or 1 cal of fat, all three of them have different metabolic pathways. This is why just blindly restricting calories might not really help a person lose weight. Instead of restricting calories coming from carbohydrates will benefit the person more.

This will make more sense if you take this example: 1 calorie that originates from foods that are rich in carbs will have an impact on a hormone called as insulin which is the fat gain hormone while 1 calorie that comes through food rich in protein may or may not impact your insulin hormone but 1 calorie coming from fat will definitely not have any impact on the insulin hormone. Which is why it is important that a person trying to lose weight is educated about the kinds of calories that should be restricted and what can be consumed.

Although there is one thing – calorie restrictions are always going to be constant. However, everyone should avoid consumption of calories that come from non-nutritional foods like sugar, Cola’s, Sugar-based deserts, fruit juices, fried snacks & chips, and Potatoes. This is due to the fact that not only do these foods not provide you with any nutrition, they also have a very negative impact on the hormone insulin, which like mentioned above, has a direct impact on weight gain along with ruining lipid profile.

A word of caution: Don’t starve yourself – it will not help. Instead, choose your food wisely. When you starve yourself, although your body loses weight initially, it will gradually also reduce the body BMR and eventually weight loss will stop. The weight loss that takes places during starving could also be by losing muscle weight – Weight loss needs to focus on fat loss instead of muscle loss. Never compromise on Protein. Even when you’re on a low-calorie diet, consume proteins, good fats and green veggies that are low on carbs.

This article has been contributed by Jaydeep Bhuta, a Nutritional Consultant. He has helped over 1000 people in dropping 10,000 Kgs altogether. Among those success stories, are an impressive list of well-known clientele that includes Swara Bhaskar, Bobby Deol, Arshad Warsi, Ekta Kapoor and Huma Qureshi,to name a few.

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