What Exactly is a Calorie?
Nutrition Blog

What Exactly is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy. They include carbohydrates (4 cal/gm), proteins (4 cal/gm), fats (9 cal/gm), and alcohol (7 cal/gm). You take in calories by eating and drinking. And you burn calories by the work of living, activities of daily living, and physical activity. The body needs calories to function, stores extra as fat. You gain body fat by taking in more calories than you burn. To lose you must create calorie deficit.

The Math

  • To maintain body weight, a person with BMI in “normal” range should eat between 25-30 calories/kg body weight.

  • To calculate kg, divide pounds by 2.2. My weight in kg is ____.

  • A person whose BMI is “overweight” or “obese” needs 20-25 calories/kg to maintain current weight. This is an estimate.

  • My calorie range is __________ for weight maintenance.

  • So...to lose weight, one must eat less than that calorie range.

  • One must have a 3500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound. To lose 1 pound per week, one would need a deficit of 500 calories/day.

  • Subtract 500 from your calorie range to get your target daily range. My calorie range for weight loss is ___________.

Are all Calories Created Equal? The answer is Yes AND No!

Calories in DO need to equal calories out, in order for weight maintenance to happen. But calories are not everything…in order for our bodies to work efficiently and to feel good, we need:

  • Balance: Carbs, Protein, Fat

  • Variety: Lots of color, texture, etc

  • Moderation: “Unhealthy” foods can be ok on occasion. Don’t go overboard with a “healthy” food just because it is the current trend.

Greek Salad

Serves 4-6

Recipe Provided by Lilly Novak



  • 2 large cucumbers diced

  • 2 medium tomatoes diced

  • 1/2 small red onion diced

  • 8-10 pitted Kalamata olives cut in half

  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/8 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 juice of lime (optional)

  • 1 tsp dried Oregano (or fresh)

  • 1 tsp dried Parsley (or fresh)

  • Salt and pepper to taste


Combine dressing with salad and toss. Let chill for one hour, then serve and enjoy.