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Calories Definition

Understanding the calories definition is the first step towards losing weight when counting calories.

Calories are the core to many weight loss programs.

It is a common term used when talking about exercise and weight loss. 

We talk in terms of counting them, consuming them, reducing them and even burning them. 

Terms like caloric intake, calorie consumption and caloric content are all terms you may have used yourself. 

But what exactly is a calorie?

Simple Calories Definition

To put it simply, a calorie is a unit of energy. 

Although they are generally associated with food they actually apply to anything that has energy, like the gasoline you put in your car.

When we associate the caloric content of food we are really talking about kilocalories (kcal), or a large calorie.

A kcal calorie is unit of energy or heat equal to 1,000 small calories (cal).

When looking at a food label for the total caloric content, they are actually referring to a kcal.  So, if a food shows 200 kcal, it actually has 2,000 cal.  This is also true when talking about exercise calories. 

If an activity states it burns 100 calories, they really mean 100 kcal, or 1,000 small cal.

Just to clarify, a 1,200 calorie diet mean kcal and would equate to 12,000 small calories.  So for a calorie definition for weight loss, think only in terms of kcal as this is what all the food labels, calculators etc. use.  

Importance of Calories

When trying to lose or even maintain your weight, understanding your daily caloric needs is important.  You must create a deficit in order to lose weight.

You consume calories through the drinks and foods you eat and you burn them throughout the day.  How many you burn depends on your basal metabolic rate and your activity level. 

In order to ensure you are consuming fewer kcal than you burn, you will want to determine the proper calorie intake for you.  This will depend on your age, weight, height and gender and activity level.

If you are a teenager, then be sure to read the teen calorie intake.

BMR Calories Definition

You will also want to understand your basal metabolic rate.

This is the rate your metabolism burns calories for everyday activities including sleeping. 

Lastly, you want to understand how exercising changes your caloric needs. 

The number you burn during exercise will vary depending on the exercise, duration, level of intensity and your current weight.

Getting the right amount of calories is also critical in a weight loss program. 

Remember, this is your energy source, so if you get too few you will actually slow down your metabolism making your weight loss slow or even begin to gain weight. 

You should create a deficit of 500 and no more than 1,000 kcal. 

This will allow you to lose weight and keep it off as your metabolism adjusts to your new lifestyle of eating healthy and exercising.

Calorie Intake for Weight Loss

In addition to understanding the calories definition, you need to know your daily intake of calories in order to lose weight.

The calorie intake for weight loss will vary for each person.  Since no one individual will have the same exact variables, such as metabolic rate, height, weight, gender and age, then each person’s intake may be slightly different. 

Calculating the calorie intake for weight loss is not an exact science but as a general rule, a woman should get at least 1,200 kcal a day and a man should get at least 1,800 kcal per day.

Now that you understand the calories definition start using this free online calorie intake calculator to track your intake.

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