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What is a Calorie?

May 10, 2012 - Nutrition

LighterLife: What is a calorie?If you’re living a lighter life and managing your weight after weight-loss the word ‘calorie’ can become a popular part of your vocabulary. We all know that eating too many can lead to weight gain, but do we understand what a calorie is and why it’s important in weight management?

The science behind a calorie:      

Calories are units of energy that fuel our bodies; much like petrol fuels a car, or logs fuel a fire. For example, did you know, It takes 1 calorie to raise the temperature of 1g of water by 1°c.

Calories in food:

The calorie content we talk about when it comes to food and food labelling, are actually the amount of kilocalories or kcal a product contains. Essentially 1,000 calories = 1 kilocalorie = 1 kcal = the energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1kg of water by 1°c.

How many calories do you need a day?

Government guidelines suggest that the ‘average’ women needs 2,000 kcal per day, and the ‘average’ man needs 2,500 kcal. However how many calories you as an individual need depends on several factors such as sex, age, height and how physically active you are. If you are a member of the LighterLife forum you can sign in and use the LighterLife energy calculator.

How many kcal do you need to gain a pound of fat?

You would need to consume 3,500 kcal to gain one pound of fat – check out our nutrition blog post for more information on this. So for example, if you need 1,800 kcal a day to maintain your current weight but every day you consume 2,300 kcal, in one week you’ll gain one pound of fat.

How many kcal do you consume on LighterLife Total?

LighterLife Total is a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD), which is a diet plan where you consume less than 800 kilocalories or less a day. 600 is the total daily intake of kilocalories consumed on LighterLife Total.

Is it true that you need to eat double the amount of calories when pregnant?

No, it’s a common myth that pregnant women need to eat for two. During pregnancy, daily energy needs to only increase in the last three months of pregnancy, and the increase is by 200 kcal (the equivalent of just 2 slices of wholemeal bread and an apple). However, when you’re breastfeeding you need roughly 500 kcal a day extra.

Read our blog on nutrition for more interesting facts.

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