Calories: what they are and how much man needs to live

Brown sugar plus measuring tape

Basically, sugar and fat are important to burn with the help of oxygen and be converted into energy. However, if there is too much of it, the excess is stored in the fat store of the person. (Photo:, jackmac34 (CC0))

What are calories?

Calories are calories – this statement does not help for now. Although most people know that it is the information on the packaging of foods and products, few know what is behind a calorie. First of all, it is important to name the concept correctly. Strictly speaking, these are kilocalories, which can also be found under the abbreviation "kcal". Kilocalories are a unit that indicates the stored energy in a food. It refers to the caloric value of a food. In general, the term "calorie" has become established over time.

So, in simplified terms, kilocalories are suppliers of energy. In the body, this energy is converted into heat, which is why the supply of calories is like fuel for the human organism. Therefore, it can be stated that foods with a high caloric value provide more energy to the body than foods with a low caloric value.

How many calories does a person need to live?

How many calories a day a person needs depends on various factors. On the one hand, these are based on characteristics such as age and gender; on the other hand, they are largely dependent on the daily balance of exercise and performance. Every body burns energy continuously during the day. This process is also active at night. This is very important so that all bodily functions work without problems. Humans need energy to keep their brain, respiration, metabolism and cardiovascular system on track. In addition, every body movement costs energy.

Nowadays it is quite easy to find out what the calorie requirement is for your body. Online there is often the possibility to discover the appropriate data for personal consumption with a calorie calculator. If you want to calculate your basal metabolic rate – the number of calories needed to live – yourself, use the following formulas:

  • Women: Their own body weight in kilograms is multiplied by 24 and by 0.9. So for a 50 kg woman this means: 50 x 24 x 0.9 = 1.080 kcal total per day.
  • Men: Their own body weight in kilograms is multiplied by 24 and 1.0. So for a man weighing 70 kilograms, it means: 70 x 24 x 1.0 = 1.680 kcal total per day.

However, there is also a performance metabolism. This includes daily exercise. This refers to the type of daily activity on the one hand, and the amount of exercise on the other hand. This increases the calorie requirement. People who do hard physical work logically have a higher calorie requirement than employees in an office who sit a lot, for example. Even if these people exercise regularly in the evening, the requirement is lower than for physically hard-working people.

Why do people have different calorie requirements??

It is no secret that men, for example, have a higher calorie requirement than women. According to a report in the American Journal of Physiology, this has to do with people’s sleeping patterns, as men burn eleven percent more calories at night than women do. In addition, different lifestyle habits, job situation as well as age are important determinants of daily calorie requirements. However, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are still specific guidelines for daily energy intake. Here are the important characteristics for an approximate kilo consumption per day determined on the basis of age and sex. While men between the ages of 15 and 19 burn about 2.500 calories per day, the calorie requirement for women of this age is only 2.000 kcal. As we get older, this requirement decreases more and more, so that men over the age of 65 can only consume around 2.000 calories and women at 1.600 kcal per day have arrived.

The difference in calorie requirements is also an indication of why some people gain weight faster than others. While some have a real peak burn and lose weight even without daily exercise, there are others who only ever gain weight. This happens even if these people would consume approximately the same amount of energy. The interaction of basal metabolic rate, active exercise and a healthy diet is crucial here, because every body functions differently.

The difference between empty and full calories

In the meantime, there is a real craze about calories in this country. On the one hand, this has a lot to do with the public and media ideal of beauty, and on the other hand, with the fact that the introduction of kilocalories has assigned a value to each food item. This has not only established calorie counting, which by the way is still current, but also the battle between the so-called empty and full calories. To the group of the empty representatives belong for example bright flour, fast food and sugar in versatile form. The full kilocalories are whole-grain products, meat and vegetables. The latter have a high nutrient density, which is why these calories are suitable for weight loss and a healthy diet. Empty kilocalories, on the other hand, lead to increased body fat. This is important, but too much body fat increases the risk of illness and is nowadays also an aesthetic problem.

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