There is lots of technical information about what a calorie is. I am more concerned with the dietary aspect of calories and what they are and how they affect food choices and benefits to our bodies.
A calorie is the stuff in food that gives us energy. In a nut shell, yes that is true but there is more to a calorie than that.
A calorie is a measurement of energy. Energy from food is measured in kilocalories. A kilocalorie is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius. A lot of different factors come into play such as starting temperature of the water, atmospheric pressure, etc. We won’t go into all of that in this post. Just know that that is the short definition of what a kilocalorie is.
The more calories (kilocalories) a particular food item has, the more energy it will provide. If the food we eat contains more calories than we can burn as energy, we store it as fat. If we consume fewer calories than our bodies use for energy, our bodies start to burn our stored fat as energy and we lose fat.
The calorie count for different nutrients are: 9 kilocalories for fat, 4 kilocalories for carbohydrates and 4 kilocalories for protein. So a gram of fat provides more than twice as many calories as a gram of either protein or carbohydrates. If you eat a lot of fat as part of your diet, you’ll need to burn off twice as many calories.
Now we know what a calorie is and the calorie content of certain nutrients, we can be better prepared for to make our calories count.