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What’s a calorie?

A calorie or kilocalorie, is a unit used to measure energy. A calorie, by definition, is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kg of water 1 degree celsius. Calories in our diet come from macronutrients or energy-yielding nutrients, which include fat, protein and carbohydrate. Carbohydrate and protein each offer 4 calories per gram while fat is much more energy-dense, providing 9 calories for every gram. Alcohol is not a nutrient but it does contain calories, specifically 7 calories per gram.

The body uses energy, in the form of calories, to perform all of its functions. If you consume more calories than your body needs, the excess may be stored as fat – leading to excessive weight. On the other hand, if/when a food shortage exists, your body can break down stored fat for energy. Losing excess body fat successfully is achieved by creating a (calorie) energy defecit. You can do this by consuming fewer calories than you need daily to maintain your weight or burning off more calories than you take in daily. Eating less through portion control, behavior modification and eating low-caloire, filling foods while increasing your level of physical activity is the best strategy for losing weight.