Calories are the energy released when your body metabolizes (digests and absorbs) food. The amount of calories a food has is equal to the energy it can provide to your body.
When you eat more food with high calories than your body needs, your body stores the extra calories as body fat.
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Facts About Calories
- Calories are essential for our health, but consuming the right amount is important.
- Everybody needs different amounts of energy daily, depending on age, general health, weight, height, body shape, and activity level.
- Food high in calories but low in nutritional value provides empty calories.
The body needs calories to survive. Without energy, the cells in the body would die, the lungs and heart would stop working, and the organs would not be able to carry out their functions. So you get energy from foods and drinks.
Calories are essential for our health, but we must consume the calories needed daily to have healthy lives. Conversely, low or high consumption of calories will lead to nutritional problems.
Not only are calories essential, but also the foods or drinks from which the calories are taken. The number of calories in food tells us how much potential energy they contain.
The following are the calorific values of some components of food:
- 1g of carbohydrates contains 4kcal
- 1g of protein contains 4kcal
- 1g of fat contains 9kcal
Effects of Food With High Calories
A high-calorie diet has several effects on your body, even if you eat highly nutritious foods. Some of the effects are:
Weight gain is the major effect of food with high calories. If you eat more calories and burn fewer calories, you will gain more weight, resulting in changes in your body composition.
Increased risk of certain diseases
High-calorie foods are high in fats and sugars. High intake of these foods increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
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Examples of Food High in Calories
Significant sources of calories are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Common Nigerian foods with high calories are Semovita, White rice, Yam, Fufu, Soybeans, Moi moi, White flour, Garri, Bread, and Beans.
These are healthy foods with high calories, but you need to be careful with the consumption of these Nigerian foods with high calories to avoid obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.
Read also: Top 10 Body-building foods in Nigeria.
How to Avoid Foods With High Calories
There are different things to do to avoid food high in calories. Here are some highly effective ways to cut calories.
Don’t add sugar to your tea and coffee
Tea and coffee are healthy, low-calorie drinks, but adding just one teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar adds around 16 calories to your drink. And if you take more than a cup of sugar-sweetened tea a day, calories add up.
Don’t keep junk food at home
Junks are said to contain high calories, and keeping junk foods at home increases your intake, which results in high-calorie consumption. Keep unhealthy snacks away from your home.
Cook your food
You don’t always know what is inside a food you buy that was prepared by someone else. Some meals you think are low-calorie or healthy can contain hidden sugars and fats.
Cooking your meals gives you better control over the calories you eat.
Use smaller plates
Choosing a smaller plate is a simple trick that could keep your portion sizes on track, curb overeating, and help maintain a low-calorie level.
Choose lower-calorie alcoholic beverages
Always be careful about the amount and type of drink you take. Choose alcohol with a low-calorie over beer, wine, or even a cocktail. This will help you to avoid excessive calories from beverages.
Change your cooking methods
One of the ways to keep your meals healthy and your calorie intake under control is by cooking your meals.
Boiling, air-frying, steaming, and boiling are healthier options than frying in oil.
Choose tomato-based sauces instead of creamy ones
Creamy sauces are rich in calories. Go for a tomato-based sauce to get fewer calorie intake.
Learn to read food labels
Not all snacks or packaged foods are unhealthy; it’s just that most contain hidden fats and sugars. It’s much easier to spot healthy options if you read food labels.
In addition, you should check the number of calories the product contains so you know how many calories you are consuming.
Eat vegetables, not chips
If you like eating snacks like chips while watching TV but want to reduce calories, go for healthy vegetables instead. Examples are carrot, cucumber etc.
Don’t eat animal skin
Eating the skin of your meat adds extra calories to your body.
For example, a skinless roasted chicken contains around 142 calories. The same chicken with skin contains 193 calories.
Read also: 9 Nigerian Foods to avoid eating at night.
Alternatives to Foods With High Calories
There are alternatives to food with high calories to help to reduce your intake of food with high calories.
Frozen fruit instead of ice cream
Ice cream is an example of a food with high calories, fats, and sugar. So when you want something frozen, go for frozen fruits. Examples of fruits you can enjoy are mango, cherries, pineapple, and so on.
Fish instead of chicken
Fish have lower calories compared to chicken. A fish that is not fried guarantees you fewer calories compared to chicken.
Rice instead of bread
Rice has fewer calories and preservatives and is less processed than bread.
Avoid fried foods
Choose steamed, grilled, baked, or boiled version as the healthy alternative to anything fried.
Frying adds many calories to food and depends on the kind of oil the food is fried in. Food fried in unhealthy fats adds lots of calories to food.
Calories are vital for health, but foods with high calories are linked to health problems such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, and Osteoarthritis.
Therefore, whenever you can, avoid foods with high calories, and go for their alternatives.
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- Ajayi Oluwaseyi is a biochemist. I have a great reading culture and am keen on educating people to adopt healthy lifestyles through my writing.
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