We often hear people associating losing weight with keeping track of calories, but what exactly is a ‘calorie’? It is just a unit of measurement (yes, just like centimetre or kilogram!) for energy.
Foods deliver calories in the form of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which is nutritionally important for us to live and function. Our brains, muscles and every cell in our body require energy to function well. However, one should consume the right amount of calories to stay healthy.
How many calories should one consume daily?
Everyone has different calorie needs, depending on various factors like physical activities, gender and height. Your fitness goal also plays a part in changing your calorie needs, which we will get to in the later part of this article.
You may visit your dietitian to help identify the ideal amount of calories you should consume, or alternatively you may estimate your ideal calorie intake using an online calculator like this one: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html. There are opinions that the general recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 a day for women and 2,500 for men.
What happens if you consume calories in excessive or deficit amount?
The concept of “calories in versus calories out” plays an important role in understanding calories. “Calories in” refers to the calories you get from the foods you eat, while “calories out” is the calories your body burns. When you have a balance amount of calories in and out, your weight will remain stable, which is an ideal strategy if you are looking to maintain your weight.
But when you consume less or more calories than you burn, you will lose, or gain weight respectively.
Does cutting your calories intake help in weight loss?
Yes, consuming less calories is an effective method to lose weight. Lesser calorie intake means your body will burn stored fats to fuel you for your day.However, calorie-cutting method must be planned carefully if you were to implement it as part of your weight loss journey. This is because calorie restriction is not the most sustainable method to be relied on solely. It could cause starvation, prevent you from doing productive daily activities, and in the long run could cause muscle loss plus slowing down of metabolism. To sustain long-term calorie deficit in a healthier way, a diet plan must be followed by careful selection of food according to their nutritional value.
Your diet quality matters to maintain optimal health
Cutting calories may help you achieve your weight goals, but it is not the only factor to be relied on. Counting calories tells you how much to eat, but it does not track the quality of your diet.
Different sources of calories impact your health differently
You may be getting the right amount of calories, but that does not mean you are getting them optimally. Foods you consume process in your body differently with varying impacts on hunger and appetite. For example, high-protein diet is known to boost metabolism because it burns more calories when metabolising. Same amount of calories does not necessarily share the same nutritional values
If you decide to adopt calorie control in your diet, nutritional value in what you eat daily must be paid close attention to. This is because the amount of nutrients a food choice contains per calorie can vary greatly.
For example, 300 calories of a bowl of fruits obviously provides better nutritional value of vitamins and minerals than donuts. Foods that go through least processes are most likely to have higher nutritional value.
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Every individual and body is different. Combining regular exercising and healthy eating can help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We strongly recommend you to consult with certified dietitian and physician to understand the suitable weight management plan for you. For consultations with Dr Ong Jin Khang of The Retreat Clinic, please call +6011-3302 8232 to make your appointment. Limited slots for FREE mini consultations are available – call for more info!