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How Important are Calories?

Most people HATE counting calories, and I would agree that it isn't much fun. But, if you are serious about weight management of any kind, you will eventually have to look seriously at the calories you consume. In the beginning, most people who start the fitness journey can make changes to their bodies simply by getting more active. However, as you advance further in your journey, you will eventually have to start getting more detailed in your nutrition to make the changes continue to occur. Why?

Well, as we lose or gain weight the body requires differing levels of calories to run itself (generally). Details like your height, weight, body fat, and age play the biggest role in determining your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or the calories it takes to sustain life each day. Click here to get started calculating your BMR. To get your daily calorie expenditure needs, we would need to assess your activity levels each day to refine how many calories you will need to reach your goal. So, once you get that BMR calculated, follow the link on the same page to find the multiple you will use to find your daily needs. For example, an active person would take their BMR of, say 1900 calories, and multiply it by 1.55 if they work a moderately active job and workout 3-5 days each week to get a final total of 2,945 calories to be burned daily... so, how does this translate into losing or gaining weight?

Kilocalories (kcal) are the actual "calories" you count on the label of most foods. So, 1 kilocalorie is actually 1000 calories in the most broken down sense. "Specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy, or heat, it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). One calorie is equal to 4.184 joules, a common unit of energy used in the physical sciences," according to Julia Layton, contributor to 3500 of the calories you count on labels will equal out to be one pound of bodyweight generally. So, to lose one pound per week, you would want to put yourself in a caloric deficit of 500 calories daily throughout the week. To gain one pound per week would require the person to be over their target calories by 500 each day. If we take the same person above in our example and say that this person would like to lose weight, then they would need to target 2,445 calories of consumed food each day to lose one pound in a week's time. Take into account that food that is in the gut and water that's not been excreted can fluctuate the bodyweight dramatically each day, +/-2 pounds is not uncommon, so the scale may not be a direct reflection of the work you've put in.

I'm sure you're getting tired of reading this by now, so I won't delve into the breakdown of calories more than to say that not all calories are created equal.

Fat= 9 calories per gram

Carbohydrates= 4 calories per gram

Protein= 4 calories per gram

I will do my best to have a contributing author detail a diet plan that could help you stay on top of your calories even when you can't always eat the healthiest of foods this week or next. Some people refer to this as flexible dieting or If It Fits Your Macros, IIFYM. We won't be detailing each little aspect of this style of nutrition, but an overview is warranted I believe. Until next time, #ProtectThisTemple !

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