What Are Calories, Anyway?

fast food has a lot of calories

What do you know about calories? | Source: Shutterstock

We’ve all heard a ton about calories. Some people count their calories. Some people joke that when you eat with a friend, the calories don’t count. But what are calories, in the first place?

Of course we know they have to do with food, but calories aren’t food exactly. And contrary to popular belief, they’re not bad for you–in fact, quite the opposite!

Here’s everything you need to know about what calories really are:

* A calorie is a unit of energy, specifically the unit of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.

* The amount of calories in a food or drink refers to the amount of energy your body will get from eating or drinking it.

* It takes calories just to keep your heart beating, so making sure you eat enough calories is actually a question of survival!

* People who don’t eat enough calories each day often feel tired and don’t have enough energy (i.e. calories!) to do fun things.

* Some people have said that people who eat way fewer calories than they need actually live longer–but studies show that’s absolutely not true!

* If you eat a lot of calories, though, and don’t use up that energy, the extra calories can turn into fat and lead to weight gain. Excessive weight gain can also make you feel tired and not up to doing fun and active things with your friends!

* “Empty calories” is a term referring to high-calorie foods that don’t leave you feeling full–like pre-packed junk food and fast food meals. Those are the foods most often linked to over-eating.

* A study found that most teens underestimate the amount of calories they eat–some by almost 500 calories!

* If you play a sport or go to dance class a couple times a week, you may need more calories per day than your friend who just stays at home watching TV, since your activities require more energy (i.e. calories!)

* If you don’t know how many calories you need, talk to your doctor. She can help you figure out what the right amount is for you.

Bottom line: calories are not the enemy! We need them to look and feel awesome, and to have an amazing time with our friends. That said? I’m off to get a sandwich! YUM!

Do you still have questions about calories? Do you freak out over calories, or do you care at all about them? Tell me in the comments!

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1 Comment

  1. avatar Kit says:

    Sodium can actually be worse for your health.

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