Awareness levels about fitness and the need for a healthy lifestyle have increased globally. This is mainly attributed to two reasons – the glamor of social media influencers, and the problems faced by individuals with health issues/complications. Regardless of the reasons, this is welcome and merits celebration.

Are you on a weight loss or weight gain program, and do you need to watch your calories? Have you been advised to alter your diet, and restrict the amount of calories you intake daily? If yes, you need to work out the amount of calories of ingredients routinely used in your dishes. While it may not be possible to work out the calorie intake down to the last ingredient, you can easily get a very good idea of the amount of calories in your diet. Most individuals tend to look only at the main ingredients – for instance, dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, oil, and toppings among others.

However, dishes are very rarely made with only the above ingredients. Vegetables and grains are part of the ingredients in most dishes. It is therefore necessary to calculate the calories from commonly used ingredients. The chat below shows the calories of popular vegetables cooked with salt and raw veggies in an easy to understand format. A single glance will tell you the calories you have either consumed, or the calories you are likely to add in your next dish. Before we look at the chart, here’s a little information on calories that will add knowledge and empower your fitness goals.

What are calories? What is the impact of calories on weight and health?

Let’s simplify the definition and cut the jargon. Nutritionally speaking, a calorie is a unit of energy that comes from various food sources – the fat, proteins, carbs and sugars in food/beverages. Our bodies require energy to function, and this nourishment comes from the food we consume. So far so good. So what’s exactly the problem with calories? When your intake of calories increases, you end up gaining weight with its attendant health complications. Healthy individuals of various age groups, are recommended to intake a particular amount of calories, depending on activity levels and other parameters. When this is either unmet, or if you end up consuming way more than the targeted intake you are likely to move into the unhealthy or overweight category.

What is the recommended calorie intake?

The recommended daily intake of calories depends on age group, and activity levels. However, for the purpose of a ballpark, adult males with moderate activity levels need to consume an average of around 2500 calories daily, while adult females with moderate activity levels need to consume an average of around 2000 calories daily. Remember, this is an average, assuming the individual to be middle aged and with moderate activity levels. Your requirement needs to be calculated on the basis of your goals, age, gender and activity levels.

How should one work towards maintaining the targeted calories?

There are recommendations on the sources for these calories. For instance, you just cannot consume a whole load of protein rich food that gives you the total calories you need daily. You need a balanced diet which gives you the required number of calories.

The recommended ratio is as follows :

· Protein – anywhere between 10 to 35 percent of total calories depending on goals

· Carbohydrates – anywhere between 45 to 65 percent of total calories

· Fat – anywhere between 20 to 25 percent of total calories

The above ratios are a range, and intended to give you/your dietitian the flexibility to work out what’s best for you, based on your present calorie intake, and desired goals.

Calorie value of different nutrients

Now that you get an idea of how to split up the sources of calories, it is time to understand the calorie value of various nutrients.

1 g of Protein 4 calories
1 g of Carbohydrates 4 calories
1 g of Fat 9 calories

This will give an idea of how you can target the desired total calorie intake per day.

Using the chart to maximize health benefits

Undeniably your dishes involve cooked vegetables and raw vegetables, such as salads/juice. The chart is designed to help you quickly work out the number of calories that you are likely to intake when you use a combination of the various cooked vegetables and raw vegetables in your menu. When you work out the calories, ensure that you also check out the calorie value of the macronutrients and the recommended ratio of proteins/fats/carbohydrates. This will help you stay healthy.

 

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