There are many reasons to want to maintain one’s weight. Those who make healthy eating a standard of living, for example, athletes and bodybuilders may want to gain muscle mass.
The term “calorie” describes the amount of energy in a food.
• Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
• Protein: 4 calories per gram
• Fat: 9 calories per gram
• Alcohol: 7 calories per gram
People who try to gain weight should try to include more calorie foods to reach their goals. Alternatively, those who want to lose weight may want to limit the number of calorie-dense foods they consume.
Calories and calorie needs
Humans need calories to survive because they provide our bodies with the energy needed to fuel metabolism and physical movement.
It is accepted by health science experts that the average adult woman needs 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight, while the average adult man needs 2,500 calories per day.
However, the number of calories a person needs to maintain their weight is unique, depending on several factors, including:
- Activity level
When a person consumes more calories than their body needs, they will store the excess energy as adipose tissue or body fat.
Alternatively, if a person consumes less energy than their body needs, the body will use stored fat for energy and that person will lose weight. Some diseases can cause significant weight loss too. Some of them are:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Stress, anxiety, or depression
- An infection such as HIV or AIDS
- Celiac disease
- Eating disorders
Examples of calorie-dense foods
There are many calorie-dense foods. Some examples of calorie-dense foods include:
- Dessert that consists of a mixture of grains
- Oils and butter
- High-fat meats such as sausages, lamb, and fatty veal
- Fried foods such as French fries, chicken wings, onion rings and chicken wings
- Pastries and cakes
- Sugary drinks such as sodas, milkshakes and some smoothies
Most calorie-dense foods are highly processed, high in fat, and low in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Paying attention to the quality of the food is important to ensure that the body gets enough of the nutrients it needs at optimal levels.
The term “nutrient-dense” describes foods that have a high nutrient content relative to the number of calories they provide.
While most people think that nutrient-dense foods contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, they can also contain other health-promoting components such as antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Some examples of nutrient-dense foods include:
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
- Legumes such as beans and lentils
- Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts
- Sweet potato
- Ground beef
Consuming nutrient-dense foods is important when a person wants to increase their calorie intake. However, many nutrient-dense foods are also exceptionally low in calories.