Understanding the importance of a calorie


This is a post by fashion and fitness blogger Jodi-Kay Edwards. Follow her on PumpUp @jodikayedwards and on her blog, lifestylefinesse.com.

Cal-o-ries {noun}: Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every-night.

We have all heard the term counting calories right? While it is important to know the nutritional value of what you are eating, counting calories should not be your main concern when trying to get healthy or lose weight. My previous post on Metabolism, Anabolism and Catabolism explained that the body harbors many biochemical reactions. Today we are going to continue talking about what is happening on the inside so we can eventually get a better idea of how to make changes to the outside.

Previously on my blog I wrote about the set point for homeostasis, the point where you body tries to maintain a constant internal environment no matter the external environment. Another set point created by environmental factors is known as the metabolic set point. The body aims to maintain a set base rate of metabolism which becomes your basal metabolic rate. Research for weight loss shows that we can change our metabolic set point by how we vary our physical and dietary needs. This set point is controlled by not only our genetics, but environmental factors as well.

Metabolic set point: The average rate at which your metabolism runs

People with a slow metabolism tend to store fat more easily, while we all know at least one person who can eat pizza and ice-cream for days upon days and never gain an ounce of fat. I like to call those people the chosen one. No but really, take a moment to release your anger towards them. *Quiet moment*

Our metabolic set point is easily influenced by our external environment, nutrition, exercise climate etc. This is why it is better to eat several small meals a day instead of just our basic three. A good way to boost your metabolism is actually to eat more in smaller portions so our body does not go into starvation mode. Studies show that those who go on low calorie diets actually decrease their metabolic set point as the body is trying to conserve energy, in turn the body starts to reset itself to burn fewer calories. While the opposite is true exercise increases our metabolic rate.


The type of food that we eat also influences our metabolism. We hear the term burning calories all the time, well what does that mean? It means that all foods release heat when they are burned, this heat is measured in a kilocalorie.

Calorie: A unit of heat (A verrrrrrry small unit)

Next time you reach for something think twice about what you will be getting back from it. Eat to live don’t live to eat. When we look at calories from protein we  know that those calories are being used for repairing and growth of new tissue and organs. Calories from carbs are used for energy, and calories from fat are generally stored as just that since they have the same molecular structure as body fat. Understanding calories will help you to understand how to set up your own meal plan, only counting calories will set you up for failure. Know how your body will consume calories and make good food choices!

Next time you lift your fork, think about what you are putting into your body, not all calories are bad, however the bad ones will be those little creatures that come in and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every-night.