Food and Energy

Food and Energy

  • It’s crucial to understand how our bodies convert food into energy. This process is known as metabolism.
  • All the chemical reactions that occur in a living organism, including digestion and the transport of substances into and between different cells, are considered part of the body’s metabolism.

Caloric Value

  • Caloric value is how we measure the amount of energy food can provide to the body. This energy measurement is in kilocalories or ‘calories’.
  • Each type of nutrient provides a different amount of energy:
    • Carbohydrates and protein both provide around 4 kilocalories per gram.
    • Fats are more energy-dense, providing approximately 9 kilocalories per gram.
    • Alcohol provides 7 kilocalories per gram, although it is not classified as a nutrient.

Food Energy Conversion

  • The process of converting food into energy starts in the digestive system, where food is broken down into its basic nutrient components: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and others.
  • Once absorbed into the bloodstream, these nutrients can be used immediately for energy or stored in the body’s cells for later use.

Metabolic Rate

  • The rate at which our bodies use energy is known as the metabolic rate. This rate varies among individuals and depends on several factors, including age, sex, physical activity level, and even genetics.
  • An individual with a high metabolic rate burns more calories while at rest than someone with a lower rate. This is why some people can eat a lot without gaining weight, while others seem to gain weight easily.
  • Regular physical activity can increase your metabolic rate and help manage weight.

Exercise and Energy

  • During exercise, your body needs more energy, so it uses the stored energy sources, first burning carbohydrates and then fats.
  • The longer and more intense the exercise is, the more energy your body requires.
  • Additionally, regular exercise can increase muscle mass, leading to a higher metabolic rate as muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum amount of energy your body needs to function at rest, such as the energy needed for breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and cellular growth and repair.
  • BMR accounts for about 60 to 75% of the daily calorie expenditure by individuals and can be affected by factors such as genetics, gender, age, body composition, and diet.

Balanced Diet and Energy

  • It’s essential to have a balanced diet that provides enough energy to meet your body’s daily needs. Consuming too few calories can leave you feeling drained and could potentially lead to nutrient deficiencies.
  • At the same time, consuming more calories than your body can use will lead to weight gain as the body stores the excess as fat.