Calories, so what are they?

A calorie is simply the unit that we use to measure energy.

All foods have a ‘calorific value’ and this is simply the amount of calories (energy) that a food will supply your body when it is eaten. Food labels on packaged foods usually list the energy content in two units; one is kcals (calories) the other is in kj (joules).


Your body needs energy to be able to fuel metabolic pathways that enable the body to work properly. We are all individuals and we have our own unique metabolic rate (this is the rate at which our body consumes calories per day). The average person’s metabolic rate is approximately 2000 calories per day.

The simple truth is that there is a ‘balance of energy’ in your body, if you burn more or less calories (through activity) than your body consumes daily (through food), you will lose or gain weight accordingly.

So how do you ‘burn’ calories?

There are a number of reasons why calories are burned in your body.

  • Your body requires a certain number of calories per day to simply stay alive. This is called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Your body burns these calories to maintain the most basic functions of your body such as breathing, blood circulation and brain activity.
  • The rest of the calories are ideally burned through exercise and activity.  Everything you do results in you burning calories – washing up, hoovering, climbing the stairs, anything that involves movement will contribute to the total calories burned by the body.


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