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     - What is a Calorie?  
     - What causes weightloss?  
     - Does it matter where we get our calories from? What about fat?  
     - Why is exercise important for weightloss?  
     - How many calories does my body naturally burn each day?  
     - How many calories do I burn exercising?  
     - What are the terms and conditions of using  

  What is a Calorie?  
  A calorie is a unit of energy. Although the word 'calorie' is commonly used in the context of food, it is actually used to measure any type of energy. For example, a litre of petrol contains about 8,000,000 calories. The scientific definition is "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 metric unit of energy more commonly used in the physical sciences.

Generally, when people refer to 'calories' in the context of food they typically mean 'kilocalorie' (1,000 calories = 1 kilocalorie). When you look for calories on food packaging you are actually given kilocalories (usually indicated by the abbreviation 'kcal'). Despite this, we normally refer to kilocalories simply as calories. On the FoodFocus website, when we say "calories," we mean "kilocalories."

  What causes weightloss?  
  If you eat more or fewer calories than your body burns you either gain or lose fat respectively. For every 3,500 extra calories you eat above what your body burns, your body gains approximately one pound of fat. This is because your body naturally stores extra energy for a rainy day - in the days when humans hunted and gathered food, meals were a little less regular than they are today, and storing fat whenever possible was essential for human survival. If, on the other hand, you burn 3,500 more calories than you eat, whether by exercising more or eating less, your body will convert one pound of its stored fat into energy to make up the deficit.

  Does it matter where we get our calories from? What about fat?  
  Many people ask if it matters what type of foods their calories come from. Fundamentally, if we eat exactly the number of calories that we burn and if we're only talking about weight, then the answer is no - a calorie is a calorie. A carbohydrate calorie is no different from a fat calorie - after all a calorie is just a measure of energy. As long as you burn what you eat, you will maintain your weight. Likewise if you burn more than you eat, you'll lose weight. However this is not the whole story.

In terms of nutrition, it definitely matters where those calories come from. Carbohydrates and proteins are healthier sources of calories than fats. Although our bodies need some fat intake to function properly (a sufficient supply of fat allows your body to absorb the vitamins you eat) too much fat can be very bad for you. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that a maximum of 35 percent of our daily calories come from fat. So, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, that's a maximum of 700 calories from fat, or 77 grams of fat, per day. However in many countries the recommended maximum is lower than this, in some cases as low as 25 percent of total daily calories. That's 56 grams of fat per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.

Here are the calorie & fat content for some common foods:

Food Serving Size Calories Fat Grams
1 cup
Peanut butter
1 cup
Cheddar cheese
1 cup
1 cup
Chocolate syrup
1 cup
1 cup
Orange Juice
1 cup
  Why is exercise important for weightloss?  
  There are many reasons why exercise is important as part of a healthy lifestyle, however from a perspective of weightloss, exercising burns calories and therefore contibutes to weightloss. To lose weight, your body must burn more calories than you eat, and exercise can make a significant contribution the amount of calories your body burns.

Exercise also raises your metabolic rate, and not only while you're pounding the treadmill. Your metabolism takes a while to return to its normal pace. It continues to function at a higher level; your body burns an increased number of calories for about two hours after you've stopped exercising.

  How many calories does my body naturally burn each day?  
  Use the Quick Personal Assessment tool to calculate the calories you naturally burn each day (only if you are logged out).

  What are the terms & conditions of using  
  Click here to read terms & conditions of using this website.  
Food Focus promotes healthy & nutritious weight loss. To achieve permanent weight loss, nutritionists recommend that you don't skip meals and eat 3 balanced meals every day. This site does not constitute any medical advice and you should always get advice from your doctor on the nutrition, exercise and weight goals that are right for you.
© 2007