What is a calorie in nutrition?

Sports nutrition: definition of a calorie

In nutrition, a calorie is a unit of measurement of the energy contained in the foods we consume. The calorie represents the amount of energy present in a food.

Food provides the body with energy through a transformation of nutrients carried out by metabolism during digestion.

Energy ensures the proper functioning of cells and the body. It allows them to properly synthesize proteins such as collagen and guarantee the vital functions of organs. Energy can be used directly to meet an immediate need or stored to be spent later.

Calories are also used to determine the energy value of foods and drinks. Caloric needs vary depending on many factors such as:

  • age;
  • the weight ;
  • the size ;
  • gender;
  • the intensity and level of physical activity.

To stay healthy, it is essential to meet your body's energy needs . Doing sport involves a greater energy expenditure which increases your caloric needs .

While the calorie deficit and low-calorie diet can promote weight loss, they can also cause fatigue. Not having enough energy increases the risk of injury during training and can weaken the immune system.

Conversely, consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain. You need to find balance in your eating habits in order to achieve your sporting goals and improve your performance.

Good to know :

We normally use kilocalories (kcal) as a unit of measurement to calculate the caloric value of a food. But in common language, we abbreviate it by talking about “calorie” and not “kilocalorie”.

  • 1 kilocalorie (kcal) represents 1000 calories (cal).

The role of calories

The role of calories is to calculate our energy needs to better manage them and therefore have better control of our body, our health and our performance.

Energy is necessary for the body since it ensures vital functions such as breathing, blood circulation, maintenance of muscular and connective tissues, etc.

It is important to find a balance between calorie consumption and energy expenditure to maintain a stable healthy weight. For this, you need to eat nutritious and varied foods in appropriate portions.

Staying physically active will also increase the number of calories burned and can help reduce body fat, as long as the diet remains balanced.

How many calories to consume per day?

How many calories to consume per day? The answer depends on your age, weight, height, level of sporting activity and gender. The more sport you do, the greater your energy needs.

The amount of calories to consume per day depends on several factors. There are calculation formulas that estimate your caloric needs more or less precisely. Adjust your intake based on the results!

You should know that the higher the body weight, the higher the energy expenditure. You need more energy to move around and perform physical efforts: you therefore have a higher daily calorie intake .

calorie intake

Calorie intake: controlling weight loss and gain

Controlling calorie intake is an interesting strategy in sports nutrition to avoid excessive weight gain, but also to ensure you provide a good amount of energy to your muscles and vital organs.

If you practice a daily activity , if you are interested in well-being, if you want to lose or gain weight... Know how many calories per day you need, what your daily needs are and what your daily energy expenditure is.

You can take stock with a nutritionist to go further. A good, healthy and balanced diet, combined with physical activities, will help you maintain an ideal weight and maintain your muscles for a healthy body.

Here's how to influence your current weight with your energy intake.

Adopt a low-calorie diet to lose weight

To lose weight , you must reduce your daily calorie intake. When you reduce the number of calories consumed per day, you force your body to burn what it stores in adipose tissue (fat).

With a low-calorie diet , you reduce your caloric intake to enter an energy deficit. In short, you eat fewer calories than your body needs. To fill the calorie gap , it draws on your lipid reserves.

As a result, you can lose weight and lose weight.

The added tip : combine a balanced, low-calorie diet with sport!

To accelerate weight loss and eliminate excess calories, the best solution is to practice a sporting activity. Build muscle at the gym, boost your cardio with running or crossfit…

Many sports and physical exercises help burn calories quickly to reduce body fat.

High-calorie diet and weight gain

Unlike a low-calorie diet, consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain. If you exceed your daily calorie needs, your body will store excess energy in adipose tissue in the form of fat. This is what promotes body mass gain.

If you have a normal weight, but want to eat more than your daily calorie requirement, you will need to practice regular physical activity to avoid being overweight and maintain a balanced energy balance with a stable weight.

How to know the caloric value of foods?

Counting calories can help you better manage your calorie expenditure and calorie consumption. But how do you know the energy value of a food? Note that :

  • 1 gram of carbohydrate represents approximately 4 kcal;
  • 1 gram of protein represents approximately 4 kcal;
  • 1 gram of lipids represents approximately 9 kcal.

Lipids are therefore more caloric than proteins and carbohydrates . Consuming a fatty diet, rich in saturated fatty acids for example, can easily cause you to exceed your daily calorie intake and therefore cause you to gain weight.

The basic metabolism must exert more effort, and therefore increase caloric expenditure, to eliminate lipids than for carbohydrates or proteins. Eating too much fat can therefore lead to excessive fat storage and therefore an increase in weight on the scale.

To find out the caloric value of foods, you can read the nutrition labels of food products. They indicate for the chosen portion the quantity of calories, nutrients, fats, sugars and proteins.

The caloric value of foods may vary depending on the cooking method and ingredients used.

A boiled potato has a different energy value compared to a fried potato cooked in oil, for example.

In general, it is recommended to follow a balanced diet , rich in vitamins and minerals, composed of fruits and vegetables. If you have a vegetarian, vegan or vegan diet, you can completely meet your daily protein requirement with plant proteins .

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Increase your calorie expenditure with sport

Exercise is a great way to burn calories quickly. By practicing regular physical exercise, you can increase energy expenditure to lose weight or as needed.

Physical activity allows you to burn calories. Some sports burn fat faster than others and some activities accelerate the amount of calories burned.

For example, fitness, crossfit and HIIT are among the 7 most effective sports for losing weight . They increase the calorie deficit and boost your energy expenditure.

Sport is therefore an ideal solution for expending energy and burning calories in order to lose weight. By mobilizing your strength and muscles, you also strengthen your muscles and sculpt your body. It becomes more solid, resistant and enduring.

Conclusion: what is a calorie?

To conclude, a calorie is a physical unit of measurement. It determines the energy value of foods and their nutritional intake . Energy comes from nutrients transformed by basal metabolism. It is vital.

Calories allow us to quantify energy . They help you better manage your energy expenditure and determine your caloric needs. A healthy diet and practicing sports help balance daily energy expenditure.

Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain. Conversely, a lack of calories can lead to weight loss. To maintain a normal weight, you must find the balance between energy consumption and its expenditure.

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