Friday, June 17, 2011

Learn About Calories

"It's loaded with calories!" "Are you counting calories?"

When people talk of calories in food, what they mean? A calorie is a unit - but it does not measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it's a way to describe the amount of energy your body could get to eat or drink it.

Calories are bad for you?

Calories are not bad for you. Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories - and not burning enough of them off through activity - can lead to weight gain.

Most foods and drinks contain calories. Some foods such as lettuce, contain few calories (1 cup shredded lettuce that is less than 10 calories). Other foods such as peanuts, are high in calories (½ cup of peanuts has 427 calories).

You can find out how many calories in a food nutrition label reading. The label also describes the components of food - how many grams of carbohydrates, proteins and fats it contains.

This is the number of calories and 1 gram of each:

* Carbohydrates - 4 calories

* Protein - 4 calories

* Fat - 9 calories

So, if you know how many grams of each food is, you can calculate the calories. You could say the number of calories per gram of a certain number of that component. For example, if a portion of chips (about 20 chips) has 10 grams of fat, 90 calories from fat. It has 10 grams x 9 calories per gram.

Some people watch their calories when they try to lose weight. Most children do not have to do this, but all children can benefit from a healthy, balanced diet that provides the right number of calories - not too much, not too little. But how do you know how many calories you need?

How many calories do children need?

Children come in all sizes, and each person's body burns energy (calories) at different speeds, so there is no one perfect number of calories a child should eat. But there is a recommended range for most school-age children: 1600-2500 per day.

When they reach puberty, girls need more calories than before, but they tend to need fewer calories than boys. When boys reach puberty, they will need as many 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day. But they are girls or boys, children who are active and moving around a lot will need more calories than children who do not.

Most children do not have to worry about getting enough calories because the body - and feelings of hunger - helps to regulate the number of calories the person eats. But for children with health problems may need to make sure they eat enough calories. Children who suffer from such as eating high-calorie foods because their bodies have trouble absorbing nutrients from food and energy.

Children who are overweight may need to make sure they do not eat too many calories. (Only your doctor can tell if you are overweight, so check with him if you are worried. And never go on a diet without talking to your doctor!)

If you eat more calories than your body needs, the remaining calories are converted into fat. Excess fat can lead to health problems. Often children who are overweight can start by avoiding high-calorie foods such as sugary sodas, candy and fast food, and eating a healthy balanced diet. Exercises and games are really important, too, because activity burns calories.

How the body uses calories

Some people mistakenly believe that to burn all the calories you eat or gain weight. This is not true. The body needs calories just to use - keeps the heartbeat and breathing lungs. As a child, your body needs the calories from a variety of foods to grow and develop. And you burn calories without even thinking about it - walking the dog or make the bed.

But it's a great idea to play and be active for at least 1 hour to several hours a day. This means that the time spent playing sports, just running around outside, or cycling. It is all up. Being active every day keeps your body strong and can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Watching television and video games will not burn many calories at all, so you should try to limit those activities to 1 to 2 hours a day. A person burns only about 1 calorie per minute while watching TV, about the same as sleep!


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