Everything You Should Know About Calories

What are calories?

This food has a lot of calories, and this has even more? Do you count calories? What is your daily intake of calories? How many times have you heard about calories? But what are calories?

Here you can find everything you need to know about this widely spread word.


A calorie is a unit of energy and it represents the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. It’s also known as a small calorie.

Food calorie definition

Kilogram calorie is defined in terms of the kilogram rather than the gram. It represents the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. It is equal to 1000 small calories, 1 kilocalorie (kcal). Also, is known as a food calorie or a large calorie.

Basically, calories are an amount of energy in the food. Informing yourself how many calories your meal has can help you balance your nutrition and stop weight gaining.

Recommended daily calorie intake

Recommended daily calorie intake varies across the world.

According to the United Nation, the average person’s minimum calorie requirement per day globally is 1,800 kilocalories.

The US authorities assert that the average male adult needs approximately 2,700 calories per day to keep his weight constant, whilst the average female adult needs 2,200.

UK authorities recommend 2,500 calories per day for men and 2,000 for women.

The number of calories needed on daily basis depends on several factors, including your age, size, height, sex, lifestyle, and overall general health. For example, a young professional athlete can’t have same requirements as a 70-year-old woman.

Calories and meals

With food and drinks, you intake energy (calorie) in our body.  Your body then uses that energy for metabolic processes and physical activities. That means that you burn more calories if you do more physical activities (sport, jogging, walking, cycling etc).

What is calorie?So, weight gain occurs when you eat more energy than you need per day for metabolic activities and physical activities. The excess of energy you intake is fueled in our bodies like fat. Numerous studies show that people in the USA, especially adults eat more food than their bodies require and they have the lack of sports activities. All of this combined together is the main reason for overweight and obesity.

Counting calories

Protein has 4.1 cal per gram.

Carbohydrates have 4.3 cal per gram.

Fat has 9 cal per gram.

As you can see, fat contains the most energy per gram.

We aren’t always aware that some food, especially industrially processed food, contains a large number of calories. Food products that have a lot of fat, sugar or corn syrup are the most caloric ones. For example, fat meat, meat products, fat cheese, mayonnaise, bakery products, ketchup, all kinds of snacks (sweet, salted), cookies, ice-creams.

Also, there is a misconception that you can eat healthy food as much as you want. No. This especially applies for nuts. They are very caloric.  You are thinking now, what is left then?

Here, you can see caloric values for most common ingredients:

Milk (2% fat, 100ml)

  • Carbohydrates: 5.2g
  • Protein: 3.4g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Calories: 51
  • 2.5% PDV*

Egg, (boiled, medium size, 50g)

  • Carbohydrates: 0.7g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Fat: 7g
  • Calories: 93
  • 5% PDV*

Chicken breast( raw, without skin, 100g)

  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 23.1g
  • Fat: 1.2g
  • Calories: 110
  • 5.5% PDV*

Ground beef,100g

  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 14g
  • Fat: 30g
  • Calories: 332
  • 17% PDV*

Sweet potato, baked, 100g

  • Carbohydrates: 20.7g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Calories: 90
  • 4.7% PDV*

Bananas, one, medium size

  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Protein: 1.3g
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Calories: 105
  • 5.2% PDV*

Apples, one, medium size

  • Carbohydrates: 24.7g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Calories: 93
  • 5.5% PDV*

*Percent Daily Values (PDV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. These values are for information purposes only.

How to burn 100 calories?Burning calories

Swimming: 8 mins

Running: 12 mins

Jogging: 14 mins

Walking: 26 mins

So, how many calories can we intake per day and not gain weight?

It is individual. It depends on age, gender, height, weight and lifestyle, of course. You don’t burn the same amount of calorie each day, so nutrition has to be adjusted to your daily activities. You can calculate your approximate amount of calorie with the Harris-Benedict equation.

Harris-Benedict equation

The HarrisBenedict equation (also called the HarrisBenedict principle) is a method used to estimate an individual’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) and daily kilocalorie requirements. The estimated BMR value is multiplied by a number that corresponds to the individual’s activity level.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) represents a number of calories which your body burns while you are resting. So, while we are sleeping our body burns energy for the heartbeat, brain functioning, and other internal organs. BMR considers age, height, weight and level of your daily activities.


For men:

BMR= 66+(13.7 x body mass in kilograms)+(5 x body height in cm)-(6.8 x ages)

Example: If your weight is 100 kilograms, your height is 190 centimeters and your age is 40, then,

BMR= 66+(13.7 x 100)+(5 x 190)-(6.8 x 40) which means that required calorie for BMR is 2014 kcal.

For women:

BMR= 665+ ( 9.6 x body mass in kilograms)+(1.7 x body height in cm)-(4.7  x ages)

Example: If your height is 167 centimeters, your weight is 55 kilograms and your age is 29, then,

BMR= 665+ ( 9.6 x 55)+(1.7 x 167)-(4.7  x 29) which means that required calorie for BMR is 1341 kcal.

The level of activities:

1.0 – You are sitting, sleeping, with no physical activity at all

1.2 – very light physical activity

1.4- light physical activity, walking at least once per day

1.6- exercising a few times during the week (most common)

1.8 – hard work and exercising twice per day

2.0 – hard work and hard training regime every day

Now, you have to multiply the results from the BMR equation with the level of your activities. For example, if your BMR result was 1341  kcal/per day and your level of activity is 1.6 the result will be

1341 x 1.6 = 2145 kcal/per day

That means that your body, combined with your lifestyle requires 2145 kcal/per day (example).

NOTE: This is framework data and it serves for information purposes. The results of the equation can vary and they depend on many different factors. If you have any doubts consult your nutritionist.

Calories and weight loss

Calories are tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.

Basically, if you gain weight it’s because you intake more calories than your body can burn because of lack of physical activity.

So, to lose weight you should start burning those extra calories you intake through daily food and drinks. And the best way to do that is to increase your daily physical activities. It doesn’t matter if that’s jogging or weight lifting, running, swimming, or cycling. Sport is very important for burning calories.

Of course, you should be careful what kind of food you eat. Professional athletes usually say that the 2 most important things to stay in good shape are to exercise (train) and have a good and appropriate nutrition.

So, a plate of vegetables and 3 miles walking, doesn’t sound bad?

READ MORE: Healthy weight loss- a journey to a perfect figure


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