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What IS a Calorie???

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My son asked me this morning what the definition was of a Calorie. Hmmmm...I had really never gotten the actual definition...all I know is that I shouldn't eat too many or too few (not usually a problem) of them. So...on to a little research and thoughtful pondering........

A Calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a liter (1.06 quarts) of water 1 degree. What's THAT mean???? It's a scientific way to measure energy. Kinda like gas for a car...Calories are 'gas' or energy for our body. Okay...that makes sense...we have to get our energy from somewhere so the Calories are the 'heat' to get our 'furnace' going so we can do what we need to do! Too many Calories and we have to 'store' that extra 'heat' somewhere...and that's what the weight gain is all about! I think of piles of wood stored next to the fireplace or as globs of fat on my body. Not enough Calories and we just don't want to go...the fire goes out when the wood runs out or we get lethargic when we don't consume enough Calories (or the right kind). Hmmmmm...my eyes or should I say mouth has been opened! (I need to learn how to shut it when my furnace has been properly stoked so I don't have piles of heat or energy to store!) I think I get it!!!! Is this an "Ah-ha" moment?????

This leads to the notion that it takes approximately 3,500 Calories below your Calorie needs to lose a pound of body fat or 3,500 Calories above to gain a pound. Sooooo...I'm thinking that I need to have a deficit of 500 Calories every day to lose a pound (500 x 7 = 3,500). If I could burn 500 Calories a day (a TALL order), there'd be another pound (500 x 7 = 3,500). It truly is up to me! Eat less, move more, lose weight...how simple is THAT? Too simple...I have to go and complicate it by slipping into old habits that sabotage my goals for better health such as eating too many Calories and/or not burning off enough of them! Portion control is HUGE (pun intended).

The number of Calories a person needs depends on age, gender, weight, height, activity level, and whether one is trying to gain (?huh?), maintain, or lose (that'd be me!) weight. My Calorie Range right now is 1200-1550. When I'm ramping up the exercise (should get on THAT pony more!) I suspect I may not be eating enough. I'll keep an eagle eye on this...and WILL adjust accordingly as I commit to Track, Track, Track...can't change what you don't acknowledge!

For me, coming to terms with Calories...how many to eat, how many to burn, and how to adjust as I go is a very important element as I move forward (and hopefully downward) on my journey to better health.

Here's to a Nutritious November...
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