What are calories?
You hear about them all the time. Come January, everyone seems to be monitoring their calorie intake and casting a watchful eye over their step count.
But what is a calorie? First and foremost, calories are units of energy. Calories refer to the amount of energy food sources we put into our body, as well as the amount of energy we expend on a daily basis.
The majority of our calorie intake is used to keep us ticking over: think blood circulation and brain functionality. The rest is either used when we exercise or if we’re somewhat overindulgent, stored as fat to keep us warm on those cold, winter nights.
The NHS recommends a daily intake of 2,500kcal (male) and 2,000kcal (female) in order to maintain healthy body weight – but this will, of course, depend on how much physical activity you’re doing. If you’re smashing out HIIT session after HIIT session, you’re going to need more energy than, say, a couch potato and thus your calorie intake will need to be higher.
And whilst calorie intake is important – we need to be putting in the same amount of energy as we’re using up – not all calorie sources are the same: for example, the benefits from a can of coca cola will vary significantly from those of a bowl of pasta.