Calories: Should we be afraid of them? Calories: Should we be afraid of them?

Calories provide the body with energy, but too many can lead people to be overweight or obese.

Medical Advisors: Ángela Franco, nutritionist – Clara Lucía Valderrama Arzayús, nutritionist and dietician

To a greater or lesser extent, almost all foods contain calories; the idea that it is possible for healthy food products to be calorie-free, isn’t necessarily true. Calories are found in dairy products, legumes, fruits, meats, vegetables, fats, and starches. Keeping these foods in mind, the goal is to avoid overconsuming those foods that contribute too many calories such as saturated fats and refined flours. As nutritionist Clara Lucía Valderrama Arzayús indicate, “There is no need to be afraid of calories. What we should do, is know what they have to offer and what function they serve. The three macronutrients of calories include proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which are all part of a regular diet.”

In balance 

As Ángela Franco states, nutritionist and dietician, “The function of calories is to provide the body with energy. A lack of calories can cause malnutrition or leave people thin, with low energy or too few nutrients. In excess, they can cause people to be overweight or obese.” Franco suggests that each individual get an assessment to determine how many calories the person should consume, burn, and needs to be healthy: “If I need 2,000 calories a day and I eat 3,000, the extra calories are stored in the body in the form of fat. If I need 2,000 calories and I consume 1,000, the body not only uses fat as a source of energy, but muscle mass as well.” On average, adults need 2,000 calories a day, but this amount can be greater or lesser depending on the person’s height, age, physical activity, body composition and dietary needs.

Avoiding extremes

Counting calories has become a trend, which is why many people use this information to decide what foods to eat. When calculating these calories becomes an obsession, however, this can lead to eating disorders, which can range from not eating to eating too much, leaving out the essential nutrients you receive through food.
• 1 serving of whole-wheat bread: over 100 calories
• 1 serving of fruit: 50 calories
• 1 serving of vegetables: 27 calories
• 1 handful of nuts: 45 calories
• 4 tablespoons of oats: 89 calories
• 1 serving of granola: 100 calories
• 1 cooked egg: 155 calories

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