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The Role of Calories In a Nutritional Program

As far back as we probably can remember we can all usually recall the word 'calories' when the topic of diet and weight loss is discussed in typical mainstream fitness. For some the word is infamous and generally equated with restriction. For others it is just a byword. This time around we will explore that little word in a little more detail examining its role and also the positives and negatives regarding how they can be used.

First of all, what is a calorie? Without getting too technical, a calorie is a unit of heat. It takes one calorie to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree celsius. Calories are used by our bodies for heat and energy purposes. As I'm sure you are aware of, different foods have different levels of calories. In some cases we take in more of this unit than we need to be used for energy therefore resulting in an caloric overload. Since the body cannot use these calories at that particular time they will be stored in the form of fat.

Now how can this help me you ask? In a lot of ways. Once we understand briefly what calories are and what they are used for we are better suited to come up with ideas and tricks in order to work with them more efficiently.

The main question that people will usually ask when it comes to calories is 'Do I have to count them?' The answer is both positive and negative...yes and no. Let me explain. I will start off with the beginner. Usually someone that is first starting off trying to lose weight will have very poor instinct when it comes to food portions and quantities. For them it would be ideal and very wise to count calories until they at least come to the intermediate and advanced level. It is just like training wheels on a bike. Once you don't need them anymore you take them off.

A lot of commercial diets fail because of this fact. Sure the idea of not counting calories is appealing but in reality that's what resulted in getting the dieter in the mess they're in to begin with. Some diets are more beneficial assigning a point value system to foods and you can look them up making sure you do not exceed this limit. When you look at it they are really just coming up with another way of saying calories. This idea is more appealing but sticks to the golden rule...if you take in less calories than you burn you will see success.

For the one who has either met their goals or who have been dieting for awhile I have good news for you. You won't have to spend the rest of your life counting calories! Nobody wants to do that. This is the point where you develop instinct 'doing what's right for you. Your metabolism and body type will differ from person to person and nobody will know your own body better than you! Over time and a little trial and error you will be able to just look at a plate and know how much to take or how many meals you can eat during the day based upon what you have taken. This becomes particularly handy when you are eating out. And when you are thinner with more muscle mass your body will already be more efficient at burning calories in the first place.

Counting calories can still be beneficial to advanced people as well but these are usually athletes who have to make a certain weight or look by a certain time, like wrestlers or bodybuilders for example. You see in the long run that dieting and weight loss when you study it is a science and therefore you have precise units of measurement. And this gets back to the golden rule mentioned earlier. That is why if we take a scientific approach when we are starting out we are more likely to be met with measureable results. You can't argue with science!

About the Author

Randy Mclean has a diploma in Fitness and Nutrition from Education Direct, a YMCA individual conditioning certificate and is the author of Instinct 'Master Your Mind And Your Body! For free tips and tricks visit


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