WHAT ARE CALORIES?
Calories are a way to measure how much energy you get from food and drink. Just like you measure how tall you are in feet and inches, you measure food energy in calories. Calories are the fuel you need to work and play. You even need calories to rest and sleep! Carbohydrates, fats, sugars, alcohol and proteins all contain calories.
Foods and drinks vary in how many calories and nutrients they contain. When you choose what to eat and drink, it’s important to get the right mix – enough nutrients, but not too many calories.
When it comes to keeping a healthy weight the bottom line is all about balance—balancing the number of calories you eat and drink with the number of calories your body uses or “burns off.”
You use or burn off calories with body functions, daily activities, and exercise.
Researchers found that just 10 extra pounds of body weight can change the way your body uses insulin for the worse. We know that if your body doesn’t use insulin normally, this can lead to prediabetes and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.
So if you want to lose weight, pay attention to the calories in your food. Eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and limiting saturated fats and sugars, is the key to losing weight. Limiting carbohydrates and fats might be the easiest way to improve the way your body uses insulin.
If you have gained weight, it is because you eat more calories than your body uses or burns off. Extra calories add up over time and turn into extra pounds. Want to lose 10 pounds this year? If you can cut just 100 calories per day it can help you lose those extra 10 pounds. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. So, if you want to lose 1 pound per week, you would need to cut 500 calories from what you usually eat in a day.
You should talk with your healthcare professional before changing your diet. Ask them how many calories you should eat or drink each day and how much weight you should lose.
By Fran Daniel, MPH