I was cleaning out some files the other day and came across the graphic below. I had saved it some time ago and forgotten all about it. Now that I see it again, it really makes me think about what a calorie means.
In scientific terms, a calorie is defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. So what does that mean to you and me? The food we eat contains calories and these calories are converted by the body into the fuel we need to live. The more calories you eat, the more fuel you have to burn during daily activities. If you consume more calories than you burn, your body stores the excess energy as fat. Pretty simple.
But, and here’s where it gets interesting, food calories come in many shapes and sizes. Some foods are calorie dense, meaning they contain a lot of calories in a very small amount. Others, like fruits and vegetables, are calories sparse, meaning that you have to eat a lot of them to consume the same number of calories as a calorie dense food.
That means you can eat a lot of calorie sparse foods, which gives you a full feeling and satisfies your hunger, without consuming very many calories. Using the foods in the graphic, 400 calories of oil is a little over 3 ounces – not much. 400 calories of fried chicken is a little more than 4 ounces – better. But, 400 calories of fresh vegetables is a whopping 22 ounces! The average stomach only holds about 32 ounces at any one time, so you can see that eating 400 calories of vegetables would just about fill you up!
The message here is that it matters what you eat, not just how much you eat, and you don’t have to “starve” yourself if you want to lose weight. By simply adding calorie sparse foods like fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, you can feel full and still lose weight. And that doesn’t consider the additional vitamins and nutrients that many calorie sparse foods contain – that’s a subject for another day.
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
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You may also want to read: How to Lose Weight: Cancel Your Costco Membership, 5 Quick, Tasty Meals Everyone Can Fix Their Own Way, Can You Pronounce the Ingredients in Your Food?