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WHAT IS A CALORIE?

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Do you even know what a calorie deficit even is?


If you follow any fitness influencer, fitness guru or bodybuilder/athlete you may have heard them say in one of their videos 'calorie deficit'. But if you got bored and skipped through you may have missed the information as to what it means...


Or maybe they all gave you different ans

calories

wers and now you are confused.


I am hoping to create this blog as a safe space to find quality information so you can find the answers to all of your health and fitness problems without having to navigate the complexities of information on socials.


Let us start with what is a calorie?


Calories


A calorie is a unit of measurement to describe energy that is taken in by the human body. Scientifically speaking a calorie is the unit of measurement that is defined by raising 1 gram of water by 1 degree celsius. I know boring and confusing but I hope that shows how significant or insignificant it actually is.


Now let me explain how this relates to the food and drinks you are consuming on a daily/weekly basis. Your foods/drinks are categorised in 3 major categories; carbohydrates, fats and protein. Each of these have a different calorie level.


Carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram

Protein: 4 calories/gram

Fats: 7 calories/gram


Fats

fats

What you can see here is that foods that are higher in fat will give you the most energy however this is where it gets confusing... When you consume foods/drinks that are high in fat your body takes a while to break them down before it can be used for energy. So while it produces the most energy it is more of a slow, long term acting form of energy intake.


Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates however are immediately used for energy and can be broken down into simple carbohydrates or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are your sugary foods/beverages that are seen as fast acting carbs. Basically your body loves this as they are used immediately for energy. Think of a 'sugar spike'. You will notice that after giving kids lollies they become hyperactive!

carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are your potatoes, veggies, rice, bread etc. These types of foods are seen in a similar way by the body but due to their volume they take a little more time to be broken down for energy and as a result are slower acting. The human body views both simple/complex carbs in a similar way so one is not better than the other. However, if you want more energy for longer durations you will want to be consuming more complex carbs over your simple sugars.


Endurance athletes tend to consume your complex carbs as a loading phase before competition whereas athletes involved in short distance or quick movement sports like sprinting will be consuming your simple sugars as they require that quick burst of energy.


Protein

protein

Protein is what you will find in your dairy products, meats, fish, legumes, nuts etc. These types of foods/beverages that are high in protein will provide you with the building blocks for muscle recovery and regeneration post exercise. Your muscles are used all day everyday, even if you are a coach potato you will be getting up and moving around at times, lifting your arm over your head or swiping your phone away.


Every movement you make in life requires muscular control and strength. Therefore, you need protein to ensure you have muscles to complete the tasks you are doing. More so if you are highly active.





Alright so we have broken down calories, we broke down the 3 major groups that calories come into now what?


How do you know how many you need to eat to lose weight, gain muscle or even maintain the current shape you have now?


Calorie Tracking


The simplest and most fool proof method out there today is to track the foods/beverages you are consuming on a daily/weekly basis. By doing so you know how much energy or calories you are providing your body. If you are consuming more calories than you need on average and continuing this you will notice weight gain. If you are consuming less calories than you need on average you will notice weight loss.


An app I like to use is called MyFitnessPal I have been using it on and off since 2014 and it has helped me with bodyweight maintenance ever since. I believe once you learn the skill of tracking calories you are going to have a skill you can use for life to maintain, lose or gain weight whenever you want whilst still enjoying your lifestyle :)

calorie tracking



The way to find your magic number is to utilise macronutrient calculators such as the one linked below.


Do not be hindered by the title 'bodybuilding'. This is just a calculator I like to use which uses the correct equation with current up to date evidence.


I want you to provide the information related to you right now.


- Age

- Sex/gender

- Height

- Weight

- Goal (maintain weight - I will explain why after)

- Activity level (sedentary ' little or no exercise' - I will explain after)


Once you find your number this is your current maintenance or BMR. I want you to consume this level of calories on average you will be maintaining weight however you will also be full of energy and feel great everyday. I want you to enjoy this period of time as you will feel less lethargic, have more energy and overall feel good about yourself.


If your goal is weight loss I want you to do 2 things

  1. Increase your activity level

  2. Minus out 300 calories

If your goal is weight gain I want you to do the exact same thing but with an addition of 300 calories :)


Pretty simple, however the only annoying thing is you are going to be the determinator of whether you are progressing in the right direction.


For more tips and information like this please share this blog around :)


B

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