How Many Calories Do You Need?

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Calories are a basic unit of energy found in foods. When we eat these foods, we gain the energy for the body’s functions. The amount of calories a person needs depends on the gender, age, and physical activity.

Why are calories important? If you eat too much calories, then you can become overweight and increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. If you eat too few calories, then you can lose weight and become malnourished. Hence, you should opt for just the right amount of calories for your daily energy needs.

On the average, an adult person needs around 2,000 calories. 
Despite the trends in fad diets that do not restrict calories, the time-tested method of counting calories for weight loss is more effective. You should also eat a balanced diet and avoid risky diets such as those with high protein and high fat content.

There are high calorie foods that are unhealthy and should be limited or avoided. While some high calorie foods are healthy and actually recommended for those who want to gain weight. Let us check these out.

Five high calorie foods to avoid or limit:
1. Animal fats - The fats in beef and pork meat are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. They are also high in calories.
2. Salad dressings - Eating vegetables is healthy but the problem lies in the dressings used. 
The amount of calories in these dressings depends on the amount of oil and sugar used to make them. French dressing has 631 calories per 100 grams or 88 calories per tablespoon. Also high in calories are Caesar’s dressing, Ranch sauce, and Thousand Island Mayonnaise Dressings. Try low calorie salad dressings made with vinegar or herbs instead.
3. Junk foods, candies and sweets – In a candy bar, you can see all sizes and shapes of candies. On the average, these candies will pack 500 calories per 100 gram serving. Some snack chips with extra cheese can have as much as 1,000 calories per bag. This will amount to half of your daily requirement already.
4. Fried foods in general – French fries and onion rings have 350 to 400 calories per 100 grams serving. That is equivalent to eating one and a half cup of rice already. Fried foods contain more calories because of the added oils. Try steamed, baked or broiled dishes instead.
5. Processed meats like sausage, salami, bacon and hot dog –These meat products are high in animal fats. Some even contain internal organs which are high in bad cholesterol. The typical sausage has 450 calories per 100 gram serving.

Four Healthy High Calorie Foods:
1. Nuts and seeds - Nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals, and good fats. Nuts are excellent snacks. Just eat an ounce per snack and choose the unsalted ones. Nuts contain around 200 calories per ounce or 30 gram serving. 
2. Peanut butter – For those who want to gain weight, peanut butter is a nutritious food. In developing countries, malnourished children are given peanut butter so they will gain weight. Each tablespoon contains 94 calories.
3. Dark chocolate - Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and anti-oxidants, which is good for the heart. A 30 gram serving of chocolate already has 145 calories. Just eat a small portion. 
4. Cheese – Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium. A 100 gram cheese serving contain up to 300 to 400 calories. You can eat these foods in moderation.

Calories In Common Foods:
To give you an idea of the calorie content of common foods, here are some examples taken from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database.

1. Apple, medium size: 72 calories
2. Banana, medium size: 105 calories
3. Beer (regular, 12 ounces): 153 calories
4. Bread (2 slices, wheat or white): 132 calories
5. Butter (salted, 1 tablespoon): 102 calories
6. Carrots (raw, 1 cup): 52 calories
7. Chicken breast (roasted without skin, 3 ounces): 142 calories
8. Soft drinks (12 ounces): 136 calories
9. Egg (large, scrambled): 102 calories
10. Ice cream (vanilla, 4 ounces): 145 calories
11. Doughnut with filling: 289 calories
12. Milk (8 ounces): 122 calories
13. Nuts (1 ounce): 168 calories
14. Oatmeal plain (1 cup): 147 calories
15. Orange juice (8 ounces): 112 calories
16. Peanut butter (creamy, 2 tablespoons): 180 calories
17. Pizza (pepperoni, one slice): 298 calories
18. Pork chop (3 ounces): 221 calories
19. Potato, medium (baked): 161 calories
20. Potato chips (plain, salted, 1 ounce): 155 calories
21. Raisins (1.5 ounces): 130 calories
22. Thousand Island salad dressing (2 tablespoons): 118 calories
23. Red wine (5 ounces): 123 calories
24. Rice (1 cup): 205 calories
25. Shrimp (3 ounces): 84 calories
26. Spaghetti (1 cup): 221 calories
27. Tuna (light and canned, 3 ounces): 100 calories

Some Advice On Calories:
First, make sure you choose the right kind of calories. Reduce your calorie intake from sweets, candies, desserts, pastries, junk foods, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks. Decrease your intake of packed sweetened fruit juices, too. On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier and have fewer calories.

Second, take note of the portion size. Even a high calorie food may be eaten as long as it’s just a small portion. However, even healthy foods, like fruits, when eaten excessively can bring about weight gain. 
Hence, use common sense and choose your calories, too. Stay healthy everyone.


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