There is so much talk about watching your daily calorie intake, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or are hoping to achieve a desired weight goal. As a simple rule, if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight, and vice versa.
But is it as black and white as that? Not really. Especially when you consider the difference between good and bad calories. All this talk about these numbers can sometimes be mind-boggling, leaving you confused about how to formulate your fitness goals. Well, no need to worry, because we’re here to make things a lot simpler for you! We’ll break down everything into concepts that are easy to understand, answer some commonly asked questions and end with telling you about a good-low calorie beverage that will help you kick start your fitness journey!
What are calories?
In a nutshell, a calorie is a unit of energy. It was originally described as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. In more recent times it is understood to be the nutritional energy contained in fat, protein and carbohydrates and is expressed in kilocalories (kcal or Cal).
How relevant are calories when it comes to losing weight?
In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. In order to shed of one kilogram of fat, you need to burn 7000 calories. In this case, the ratio of carbs, protein and fat in your daily caloric intake is irrelevant.
Should consuming fewer calories be the way to achieve your fitness goals?
Consuming fewer calories than those expended should help you lose weight, but won’t necessarily make you fit. It is the kind of calories you consume will determine your overall health, how you feel, and for how long you stay full. Imagine consuming only sugary donuts for the rest of your life. If you burn more calories than you consumed from the donuts, your weight will fall. But you will be deprived of the important nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need for healthy functioning. You are bound to fall ill if you consume bad calories, albeit few.
What is the difference between good and bad calories?
Good calories are those that usually come from unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Calories that provide healthy fats, complex carbs, nutrients and vitamins are good. They aren’t necessarily made up of low-calorie foods. Many good calories come from high-calorie and even high-fat foods. Bad calories are those that are usually in the form of processed and fast foods. They are empty calories with little or no nutritional value. They are made up of refined flour, artificial colors and ingredients.
Comparison between some foods:
A comparison between a handful of almonds and a handful of gummy bears will make the difference between good and bad calories clearer. Almonds contain 231 calories while gummies contain 200 calories. While the latter has fewer calories, they are bad, while those in almond are good.
Almonds are healthy for the heart as they help lower LDL cholesterol, are rich in flavonoids and vitamin E. They are pre-biotic, fibrous and contain folic acid. They are good for the brain, help prevent cancer and have fatty acids that help reduce inflammation. Gummy bears on the other hand are loaded with processed sugar, artificial colors and are bad for your teeth. The sugar may even make your skin break out.
Green tea; the perfect good-low calorie option!
Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. Some of its many benefits include its ability to boost your metabolism and improve your body’s overall ability to burn fats. Not only that, it has very few calories; about 2.45 calories per cup.
The calories are not only few, they are good, as a cup of green tea contains around 0.539 grams of protein, 2.45 milligrams of magnesium, 19.6 milligrams of potassium and 2.45 milligrams of sodium. It contains around 29.4 milligrams of caffeine, but is half the amount a cup of coffee contains. It is also a good source of flavonoids like catechins and epicatechins that give green tea its beneficial properties.
To sum up, there is more to food than mere calories. It’s more about the ability to provide valuable nutrients, minerals and fibers. Good food is that which makes you feel energetic, helps your cognitive functioning and makes you live longer. So next time you’re torn between what to eat, don’t just go with the calorie count, rather make your calories count!