What are nutritional values

What are calories

What are calories anyway? Calories are not only on everyone's lips, they are also declared on many food packaging. In this article you will learn the most important basics about calories.

Let's do an experiment. Talk to the next person you meet and ask them one of the following questions.

"Sorry, can you please answer a question for me: ...

  • ... What are calories? "
  • ... How many calories do you need a day? "
  • ... How many calories do you eat every day? "

The probability is high that he will pass each of these questions. (And that he looks at you in amazement because he has no idea why you are asking that of all things.)

The paradox is that he will probably not be able to answer the question for you even if he is currently on a diet and wants to lose fat.

Most people have no idea what calories are.

By the end of this article, you will be one of those people who knows exactly what calories really are, how many you burn every day, and how many calories you should be eating to create the body you want.

Here we go…

What are calories

Calories (noun, feminine): Tiny creatures who live in closets and sew clothes a little tighter every night.

Joking aside. Strictly speaking, we should be talking about kilocalories (kcal). Because that is the unit in which the energy stored in food is specified. However, the term “calorie” has established itself in parlance.

And this is how it is defined:

1 kilocalorie of food provides exactly the energy that is necessary to heat 1 gram of water by 1 ° C.

So calories are neither more nor less than a unit for thermal energy.

When you burn food, it provides heat in the same way as other types of fuel - gasoline, coal, wood, etc.

The more calories a food contains, the more energy it provides.

A calorie quantifies that Calorific value of a food. The energy that your body stores in the form of glycogen (carbohydrates) or fat tissue can also be measured in calories.

For example, you fill up 451 calories with a piece of Black Forest cake. To release the same amount of energy from your energy stores, you would have to walk for 90 minutes.

How calories help you lose weight (and survive)

Body fat is your body's fuel tank.

When we talk about “losing weight” we don't mean bone, brain or muscle mass, but body fat.

Burning body fat means tapping into your fuel tank to exercise and maintain your vital functions (basal metabolic rate).

In inactive people, body fat usually “waits” in vain to be used.

An average 80-pound man with 19% or a 60-pound woman with 25% body fat has around 15 kg of body fat.

Every kilogram of body fat provides almost 7,000 calories.

So there are a little over 100,000 calories stored in 15 kg. So you can make ends meet for a long time in emergency situations.

Evolution programmed us to survive. And the chance of surviving a famine increases with the percentage of body fat.

However, a low percentage of body fat does not have any negative effects on health.

Famine is no longer an issue in our society today and excess body fat is just a cosmetic nuisance.

Too much body fat, however, increases the risk of illness.

If you learn to understand and balance calories, then you can shed as much body fat as you want - and stay lean for a lifetime.

This is how your body uses calories

A simple model shows how your body uses calories. Think of your body as a bank that only accepts one currency: calories.

As with any normal bank, you can deposit energy (fat) when you have something left over. And take off again if you want to meet an increased energy requirement.

There are now three possible scenarios:

  • Consistent energy balance: Your energy requirement is just as high as your energy income (from eating): So you withdraw exactly what you paid in before.
  • Falling energy balance: If your energy needs are higher than your income, you need to “take off” calories. Your body fat percentage drops.
  • Rising energy balance: When your energy needs are lower than your income, you are paying in calories. Your body fat percentage increases.

As with any rule, there are exceptions. The most important is for people who train with weights.

If you do proper strength training, you will stay slim with a slight excess of calories.

Then your body can use the excess energy to build muscle.

If the excess is too high, however, you still “pay” into your fat deposits - even if you train a lot.

How your energy balance helps you look good naked

The energy balance is one of the iron laws of nutrition. It is the most important nutritional basis if you want to lose fat or build muscle:

  1. If you burn more calories than you take in, you can lose fat.
  2. If you burn fewer calories than you take in, you gain weight.

This results in two conclusions that you should be aware of - also because they give you more freedom to make decisions.

Corollary # 1: too much of everything is stored as fat (including healthy)

This conclusion follows from the second sentence of the energy balance. Calories matter!

The main principles of thermodynamics also apply to the human body.

They apply, although some diet books have led us to believe that calories don't matter.

Mostly it is suggested that you can eat as much as you want as long as you concentrate on certain foods - and still lose weight.

Some foods are healthier than others, no question about it. Unprocessed food contains more nutrients than factory food.

However, health and fat loss are two pairs of shoes.

When we talk about fat loss, wanting both is a good goal. And it is definitely possible to gain weight with healthy foods - as long as you are consuming more calories than you are consuming.

Some low carb diets promise you will lose fat as long as you cut out carbohydrates. Then you could eat as much of everything else (fat and protein) as you wanted. But that's not true.

Even with zero carbohydrates you would gain weight. Especially when you are consuming more calories than you are burning.

A low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet often works because it dampens your feeling of hunger, and then mostly you automatically eats less.

The calorie balance also applies then.

Conclusion # 2: Even “unhealthy” foods do not start with a calorie deficit

As long as you are consuming fewer calories than you are consuming, you will not gain weight. Not even if you eat junk food.

No, this is not a free ticket for a McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s flat rate.

Because if you want to stay slim and healthy in the long term, she plays quality Of your food.

But you have the freedom to eat the things you love.

Even if nutritionists say they're not really healthy for you.

Once you understand this implication, it will help you stay relaxed - AND keep making progress. Because you don't have to do without what makes life worth living for you.

So you can have everything - just not in unlimited quantities.

This is how you determine your daily calorie requirement

Have you clearly defined your goal? Perfect! Now you determine your start coordinates.

You also want to know how many calories you need a day.

Your daily calorie requirement is the total amount of energy your body uses up within 24 hours.

There are a total of 6 factors that influence your daily calorie requirement:

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate (RMR)
  2. Thermal effect of food (TEF)
  3. Movement in everyday life (NEAT)
  4. Strength training (R)
  5. Cardio training (K)
  6. Afterburn Effect (EPOC)

In this article you will learn in detail what the six sizes stand for and how you can change them.

You can estimate your daily calorie requirement at the push of a button. (Click!)

You can read how this calculation works in this article.

Or you can use the MarathonFitness calorie calculator, which is based on a standard scientific model.

In the next section you will learn how to determine your calorie intake.

This is how you measure your daily calorie intake

Some people argue that counting calories is too troublesome or unrealistic in the long run.

Instead, they recommend counting servings. That means you would pay close attention to the portion sizes but not record the calories.

The most important point is that you become aware of your eating habits and establish a feedback mechanism.

The portion size method is definitely a good place to start. It allows you to make adjustments up or down if what you are doing does not lead to the desired result.

The disadvantage of the portion size method is that it is imprecise.

Especially when it comes to troubleshooting, you want to get the most accurate picture possible of your current situation. In the absence of this picture, progress becomes more of a guessing game.

For example, if you've hit a plateau in losing weight, it helps if you look as closely as possible and track your calories.

There are now excellent smartphone apps that make calorie tracking child's play.

It is easiest if you plan in advance and write down what you want to eat the next day. You can program foods and meals that you eat frequently in advance and thus track the time required for your food diary - as described here - to 2-3 minutes a day.


Do you have to count calories for the rest of your life?

No. My recommendation is the following:

  • Become a nutrition detective: When you start, you take it very seriously. Treat yourself to a couple of good measuring cups and a kitchen scales. Miss ’and really weigh everything that you can get your hands on (and then your stomach). Make it a habit to study the nutritional information, ingredients and calories of the foods you eat. For fresh produce, you can find out about the nutritional values ​​in books or databases. Or you can use a nutrition app that automatically provides you with the data you want.
  • Stay tuned: Stay in Sherlock Holmes mode until you have reached your goal.
  • Let loose: Once you have reached your goal or have developed a kind of “sixth sense” for nutritional values ​​and servings, you no longer have to analyze all meals. If you should hit a plateau of progress in the future, you can always start meticulously tracking again.

If you don't have a feeling for the nutritional values ​​(calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats) of foods, I strongly recommend that you invest the few minutes a day in a food diary - at least for 4-12 weeks.

Anyone who has kept a food diary at least once in their life is usually enthusiastic about how great the learning effect is through this simple habit. You will take experiences with you that neither books nor ready-made nutrition plans can reveal.

Discussion: Are Calories Really Everything?

Calories or food quality, what is important?

The discussion is in full swing. Who is right?

The ones who say calories are not important, just how "clean" you eat (= quality)?
Or the others who think the quality doesn't matter as long as you have the calories under control?

Of course, both are true.

CALORIES are the currency of your body fat percentage. Even if not every metabolism is equally efficient (some are already fat-burning machines, others are still allowed to become): Each of us needs a calorie surplus to gain weight and a calorie deficit to lose weight.

But the QUALITY of your food also plays a role. It does make a difference which nutrients a food contains: Do you eat all essential nutrients (fats, proteins) in sufficient quantities? What about minerals, vitamins and secondary substances?

Food can have the same calorific value and still fill you up for an ultra long or ultra short period. Digestion may or may not cost a lot of energy.

The quality of your food determines how many calories you need to feel full and satisfied.

Two sides, one coin.


What are calories How does your body process them? How many calories do you burn per day and how much energy do you take in?

If you have read this article carefully, you are one of the few who can answer these questions.

Congratulations and a warm welcome to the “calorie whisperer” group.

It would be deceptive to believe that calories don't count. Calories play a role.

Of course, eating a healthy diet means so much more than just calories.

The QUALITY of your food is extremely important. If you get all the nutrients your body needs through a healthy diet, you will automatically limit your calorie balance.

If you want to change your physique - e.g. less fat, more muscle - the “macros” also play a role. (Carbohydrates, protein, fat - you can find out more here.)

That doesn't change the fact that if you want to lose fat, you want to create a calorie deficit. And a surplus of energy if you want to build muscle.

Ignoring the calorie balance is done at your own risk.

Question:What experiences have you had with tracking your energy balance? If you use a different feedback system that you are more comfortable with, which one is it? Share your experiences and write a comment.

Category: Losing weight, nutrition, fitness with M.A.R.K. Tags: energy deficit, eating, fat loss, fat burning, calories, calorie consumption, body fat, body weight, measuring, muscle building training, muscle growth