Calories, how do they add up?

What is a calorie?

We have all heard the term “a calorie is a calorie,calories is a calorie.” Well, not really. Calories are a unit of measure. In nutritional terms, a calorie measures energy that a given food item or drink provides through the combination of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol in that given food item . We need to look at how our bodies use that calorie. Michigan State University Extension recommends monitoring calories taken in each day to maintain a healthy weight.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides many useful tools that can help individuals track their calorie intake as well as identify how many calories they should take in. On ChooseMyPlate.gov there is a daily food planner available, also a Super Tracker that provides a system to easily track foods you eat and the calories they contain.

Beware of the empty calorie foods. These are foods that are high in fats and sugars. They contain little long term energy. Usually empty calorie foods provide a quick boost of energy, and then just as quickly leave you tired. Drinks can also contain empty calories. These calories add up fast, the same way empty calories add up in food. The only difference is we don’t always think about drinks because they are liquid, but calories come in many forms. Just make sure your calories count.

It isn’t just about counting or tracking calories, it is about reading the labels on foods you eat to identify good calories. Knowing what contains good calories and empty calories can help you manage a healthy weight. Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov to identify the amount of calories you need to maintain a healthy weight. Add exercise to your day to help burn calories and to add long term health benefits. Calories are a good thing, when they are the right kind of calorie.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources