We count them, treat them like the plague and then throw the word around when we talk about weight loss. But do we ever think about what a Calorie really is and why we treat it with such negativity? Perhaps, it’s because we fear what we don’t truly understand.

A Calorie, is simply a way to talk about energy. Yes, we’re talking about the energy that we use to move, keep our hearts beating and our minds ticking. To be absolutely clear, one Calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. If you’re wondering why we capitalise the word, that’s because a Calorie is actually made up of 1000 small calories, which explains why some food labels use the reference “Kcal”. But don’t worry about that, because when nutritionists say that an apple is 90 Calories, they mean 90 Kcals and not 90 small calories.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Why are we so afraid of energy?

food cravings

If Calories are just energy, why do we treat it with such aversion? The simple truth is that we’ve fallen prey to the wiles of sly marketers who hawk “zero-calorie” drinks and “low-calorie” foods to us. As consumers who are, ironically, looking to consume our way to weight loss, we embraced the falsehood of the low-calorie diet.

The average Singaporean female body requires about 1200 Calories, just to sustain itself. If you work out three times a week, you’ll need 1700 to 2000 Calories, just to sustain your weight and immune system. So where does all this energy go? Well, the body requires energy for everything it does. Energy keeps your autonomic nervous system going. Autonomic systems include digestion, heart beats, liver function, kidney function and hormonal production. In short, Calories keep you alive.

Of course, that’s not to say that we can consume Calories with reckless abandon. After all, the body converts unused Calories (in the form of Glucose) into Fat.

Weight loss is an Equation

Exercise outdoors

Once you understand that Calories are simply energy, then it’s easy to recognise that weight loss is almost mathematical. The formula goes like this:

Calories Consumed (CC) – Calories Expended (CE) = Weight Loss/Gain
If CC > CE, then you’ll gain weight
If CE > CC, then you’ll lose weight

Of course, all this weight loss and gain takes place over time, and the difference in the number and types of Calories expended or consumed is highly important.

You have to remember…

If you truly wish to lose weight and keep it off, don’t deprive your body of the calories it needs. Instead, do the following:

  • Know yourself: Find out how many Calories you need to sustain your body using a Calorie Calculator.
  • Establish discipline: Work out an exercise plan and stick to it.
  • Feed your body well: Choose foods that are high fibre and nutrient dense.
  • Have patience: Know that weight loss doesn’t come overnight, but across a period of time.

Losing weight is about knowing the science and applying it in a way that is sustainable for you. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, you can do it at home. Do whatever it takes, but always remember to care for your body by feeding it properly. By listening to your body, and cultivating a lifestyle geared towards health and wellness, you can lose weight and be in the pink of health!