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Food calories explained, What are Calories in food

To keep fit while growing older we must have an idea of our daily calorie intake and calories spent daily. Food contains calories and each type of food has different calories. When we walk or even when we sleep, we are using the calories obtained from the food. There must be a balance between the amount of calories taken in and the calories burnt. Less calories burnt than consumed, means there are excess calories which gets stored in our body as fat. This makes us gain weight.

What is meant by calories

One Calorie, by definition, is the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. Food calorie is the amount of heat one gram of the food will give if it is burnt.

Food calorie is measured in an instrument called a Calorimeter. A Calorimeter measures the total heat in calories available in a food. When we eat the food, we need to digest it, and the process of digestion requires some energy.

Metabolizable Energy Intake (MEI)

The net heat energy in food is called ‘Metabolizable Energy Intake (MEI)’. MEI is calculated by reducing the energy used by the body to digest the food from the total food calorie. This is the actual energy obtained by the body on digesting one gram of the food. It is usual to assume that 15% of the total calorie value of a food is used for digestion. So Food Calories is the total calories in food multiplied by 0.85 (85%).

Calorie content of common foods

Food Calories are usually expressed in Kilo-Calories (thousand calories) per gram of the food item. Fats and oils contain the most calories – 9 Kilo Calories per gram, abbreviated as 9 Kcal/gm. Alcohol comes next with 7Kcal/gm. When Alcohol calorie is counted you take actual content of alcohol in the drink. Straight Whiskey is about 40% alcohol and beer is about 5% alcohol. Proteins and Carbohydrate have 4Kcals/gm. You have to take the value of actual protein and starch content in foods. For example, whole meal flour has fiber content which does not have a Calorie value and hence the fiber weight has to be reduced.

Before we get into the calorie values of common foods and how to calculate our daily intake of calories, let us discuss about some interesting aspects of food.

What are foods with empty calories

Empty calories is a term used for foods containing a lot of calories without any nutrients. Foods like candy, sweets, ice cream and soft drinks like coke contain empty calories. These have too much added sugar and/or corn syrup fructose and not much nutrients. Other empty calorie food are butter, margarine and cooking oils. Alcoholic drinks like whiskey, beer and wine also fall into the catogery of empty calorie food.

Food with Negative Calories

Some foods require more energy to digest than the energy contained in the food. Such food is called negative calorie food. Is this a myth or do negative calorie foods exist?

Some foods with negative calories are celery and boiled eggs. As of now, Celery is considered the king of negative foods. This is because celery contains a lot of cellulose. Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate which cannot be digested by human beings, but is not harmful to us. So our bodies spend more energy trying to digest celery than we get out of it. But hard scientific evidence proves that it is not the case. In common with all other leafy vegetables, celery is high in fibers and cellulose, and contributes energy to our body, but only a very small amount considering the amount eaten.

Hard Boiled Eggs to Lose Weight

Hard boiled eggs for weight loss diet is not something new. Many know that hard boiled eggs have a lot of proteins, which when boiled, requires more energy from your body to digest than the energy contained in the hard boiled egg. Boiled eggs without calories is best food for dieters. Hard boiled eggs helps in leading to a healthy weight loss diet. So go with Hard boiled eggs for weight loss.

How many Calories does a Hard Boiled Egg have

One medium size hard boiled egg has about 75 calories, but to digest this hard boiled egg your body burns more than this 75 calories. So in effect hard boiled eggs no calorie food. If you are worried about the fact that Eggs are high in cholesterol, then leave out the egg yolk where all of the cholesterol is. Calories in one hard boiled egg white is only 17 calories, but the body spends more energy to digest boiled egg white than the calories in one hard boiled egg white. Thus hard boiled egg white calorie count is zero or a no calorie food.

In summary, the total calories in a hard boiled egg is 75 calories, the calories in a boiled egg yolk is 57 calories and the calories in a boiled egg white is 17 calories.

Vegetables and Fruits with Negative Calories

Negative calorie Fruits and Vegetables are apple, grapefruit, lemon, lime, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, etc. These may not theoretically be negative calorie fruits and vegetables, but they contribute very little calories. Any diet plan should have lots of this type of fruits and vegetables.

Hope someday soon, Kellogg and other food manufacturers may come up with tasty negative foods. Packaged instant food with stomach filling and harmless cellulose and fibers, but with no calories. May be there are regulations banning the production of such foods. This may be the reason packaged negative calorie foods are not yet on supermarket shelves.

Calorie Restricted Diet

From the 1930s, scientific research has shown that a Calorie Restricted Diet makes living things like worms, spiders, rats, dogs, cows and monkeys live longer. Calorie Restricted Diet also makes these experimental animals much healthier and fit. Calorie Restricted Diet does not mean that we have to go hungry; it means we should eat less of the high calorie foods and eat more of the low calorie foods. Humans on Calorie Restriction Diet become much healthier with lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Strangely enough in some human voluntary trials it was shown that Memory functions improved in older subjects. The calorie restricted diet consisted of approximately 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, against a normal diet of 2500 to 3500 calories a day.

It is best to eat a mixed variety of foods in our daily diets. Target is to limit the total daily intake of calories to less than 2000 calories. In most modern diet plans, food is divided into 5 groups according to their calorie values. These diet plans include food from each group and limits the total calorie intake.

Fruits and Vegetables with lowest calories

How to know how many calories I eat a day, the following figures of fruit and vegetable calories can give you some idea:

Plums: about 40 calories per 100 grams (3.5 ounces)
Strawberry: about 35 calories per 100 grams (3.5 ounces)
Cabbage: a cupful of chopped cabbage about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) has 25 calories
Cauliflower: a cupful of chopped Cauliflower about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) has 25 calories
Celery: One stalk of Celery weighs approximately 40 grams (1.4 ounces) and has only 3 calories
Mushrooms: less than 2 calories each for the small ones
Spinnach: less than 7 calories a cup of chopped celery
Tomatoes: about 18 calories per 100 grams (3.5 ounces)

Calories burnt during normal activities

Harward University published in July 2004 a list of the Calories burned in 30 minutes during different activities for people of 3 different weights. From this table we highlight some of the more interesting figures.

Walking: calories spent during 30 minutes of walking: for example at 4 mph (15 minutes to complete a mile) or 6.5 Kilometers per hour – KmPH (9.23 minutes to complete a Kilometer) someone with a body weight of 125 pounds or 57 Kg. burned 135 calories, someone of 155 pound or 70.5 Kg burned 167 calories and someone of 185 pounds or 84 Kg burned 200 calories.

Running or jogging: calories spent running or jogging for 30 minutes at speed of 5 MPH or 8 KmPH burned 240, 298 and 355 calories for 125lb / 57Kg, 155lb / 70.5Kg and 185lb / 84Kg individuals respectively.

Sleeping: Calories spent when sleeping, the figures for every 30 minutes of sleeping are 19, 23 and 28 calories for 125lb / 57Kg, 155lb / 70.5Kg and 185lb / 84Kg individuals.

Watching TV: Calories spent while watching TV for 30 minutes the figures are 23, 28 and 33 calories for 125lb / 57Kg, 155lb / 70.5Kg and 185lb / 84Kg individuals

Standing in a queue: Calories spent while standing in a line for every 30 minutes the figures are 38, 47 and 56 calories for 125lb / 57Kg, 155lb / 70.5Kg and 185lb / 84Kg individuals.

Check out all of the figures at Harvard University website

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