Despite what you hear from the purveyors of trendy fad diets, specialty diet foods, and expensive weight-loss programs, there is no secret to losing pounds. You simply need to use more calories than you consume. To put things into perspective, here are the calorie counts for some typical foods.Keep in mind that the exact number of calories can vary.
- Apple, medium: 72
- Bagel: 289
- Banana, medium: 105
- Beer (regular, 12 ounces): 153
- Bread (one slice, wheat or white): 66
- Butter (salted, 1 tablespoon): 102
- Carrots (raw, 1 cup): 52
- Cheddar cheese (1 slice): 113
- Chicken breast (boneless, skinless, roasted, 3 ounces): 142
- Chocolate chip cookie (from packaged dough): 59
- Coffee (regular, brewed from grounds, black): 2
- Cola (12 ounces): 136
- Corn (canned, sweet yellow whole kernel, drained, 1 cup): 180
- Egg (large, scrambled): 102
- Granola bar (chewy, with raisins, 1.5-ounce bar): 193
- Green beans (canned, drained, 1 cup): 40
- Ground beef patty 193 (15 percent fat, 4 ounces, pan-broiled):
- Hot dog (beef and pork): 137
For years now, calories have been all the rage - people are counting them and cutti¬ng them, and you'd be hard-pressed to find something at the supermarket that does not list its calories per serving somewhere on the package. But have you ever wondered what exactly a calorie is?
A calorie is a unit of energy. We tend to associate calories with food, but they apply to anything containing energy. For example, a gallon (about 4 liters) of gasoline contains about 31,000,000 calories. Specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy, or heat, it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
What Calories Do
The number of calories in a food is a measure of how much potential energy that food possesses. A gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories, a gram of protein has 4 calories, and a gram of fat has 9 calories. Foods are a compilation of these three building blocks. So if you know how many carbohydrates, fats and proteins are in any given food, you know how many calories, or how much energy, that food contains.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy your body needs to function at rest. This accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of calories burned in a day and includes the energy required to keep the heart beating, the lungs breathing, the kidneys functioning and the body temperature stabilized. In general, men have a higher BMR than women.
Your Caloric Needs
There are three main factors involved in calculating how many calories your body needs per day: your BMR, physical activity and the thermic effect of food.
The second factor in the equation, physical activity, consumes the next highest number of calories. Physical activity includes everything from making your bed to jogging. Walking, lifting, bending, and just generally moving around burns calories, but the number of calories you burn in any given activity depends on your body weight.
Lots of people wonder if it matters where their calories come from. At its most basic, if we eat exactly the number of calories that we burn and if we're only talking about weight, the answer is no - a calorie is a calorie. A protein calorie is no different from a fat calorie - they are simply units of energy. As long as you burn what you eat, you will maintain your weight; and as long as you burn more than you eat, you'll lose weight.