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Wednesday, 25 February 2015 13:10

What Is A Calorie?

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What is a calorie, and why is it important to weight loss? How many calories should you eat? Are diet and exercise enough to lose weight? Here is some basic information about calories and their role in weight management.

What is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of measure. It tells us how much potential energy is contained in food, and how much energy we use through activity.

Our bodies are like furnaces. Everything we do, from sleeping to jogging, burns up a certain amount of energy. In order to maintain and perform our body functions, we need to take in energy in the form of food!

How are calories used in the body?

Through digestion, the food we eat is broken down into smaller components which can be absorbed by the body. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are converted into quick energy (glucose). Unused energy gets stored for later as fat. The process your body uses to convert food into energy is called "metabolism."

How do calories relate to weight management?

Because the body stores excess calories (energy) as fat, a diet that contains too many calories can lead to overweight or obesity, and associated complications (heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer). According to the Mayo Clinic, "Despite all the diet strategies out there, weight management still comes down to the calories you take in versus those you burn off."

How many calories are right for me?

If you are overweight or obese, you need to burn more calories than you eat, in order to lose weight.

Nutritionists use a measurement called "basal metabolic rate" (BMR) to help determine your recommended caloric intake. BMR is the amount of calories your body burns in performing its normal daily functions (sleep, growth, cell repair, etc.). Any calories you take in over your BMR must be burned off through activity in order to maintain a constant weight.

Are diet and exercise enough to lose weight?

Weight management comes down to a simple equation of calories in minus calories out. Proper diet will keep your weight down, and exercise will keep you fit. The U.S. government's Choose My Plate website has helpful tips on making better food choices.


Weight management still comes down to the calories you take in versus those you burn off.
- Mayo Clinic


California Medical Weight Management's physician-supervised, three-step system will help you achieve your healthy weight. It also teaches you how to make the right food choices, with continued support along the way. Contact CMWM for a free consultation!

Visit our newest CMWM medical weight loss clinic in Foster City, CA!

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