A calorie is used to measure the amount of energy contained in a particular food or drink and is generally found in foods containing carbohydrates, fat, and proteins.
The human body uses calories to function properly, as all work done by the body requires energy that is generated from calories. Approximately 0.42 calories per pound are burnt every hour by the average human being.
The amount of calories that each individual uses, however, depends on a variety of factors peculiar to that person such as diet, weight, amount of sleep, exercise, sex, and many other variables.
Uses of Calories
Calories are needed in the body for many basic processes. Some of them include;
- Metabolism: The breaking down of molecules of food in the body, to give out the energy used to function, is enabled only through the burning of calories.
- Circulate blood: The energy used to power the flow of blood across every part of the body, and ensure the constant presence of blood in vital cells and organs, is also produced as calories are burnt.
- Physical activity: Physical activity includes everything from rising from bed to jogging down the street or lifting a box or spare equipment. All of these are made possible through the energy produced by the burning of calories.
Basal Metabolic Rate
The basal metabolic rate of the body refers to the amount of energy needed by the body to perform its essential functions such as breathing, temperature regulations, and cellular growth. This rate varies due to factors such as
- Age: Younger people tend to use more energy and burn more calories than older people.
- Sex: Males typically burn more calories than females, due to their body structure.
- Weight: People with larger body weights require more calories to function.
- Height: Just like weight, people who are taller and have a larger body mass burn more energy than shorter or smaller people.
- Genetics: People with genetic conditions like hyperthyroidism and Cushing Syndrome burn fewer calories than normal people.
Rapid Eye Movement
The use of calories during the night varies based on the phases of sleep. During Rapid Eye Movement, otherwise known as REM, the body is most active. At this point, so many metabolic activities such as the digestion and breaking down of food eaten at night into usable fuel for the next day, and also the repairing of damaged cells and recovering from strenuous work done previously take place. The brain itself functions at its normal daytime rate and as such, utilises about 20 percent of the calories burnt at this time.
After this phase of sleep, the next phase is the Deep Sleep Phase where growth is found to occur. At this point, during the release of the growth hormone, all body functions including Heart Rate, Respiration, Brain Activity, Metabolism, and Core Body Temperature reduce to the barest minimum. This causes a reduction in the amount of energy used by the body.
Burning More Calories
Most people only recognise exercise as the major method of increasing the number of calories burnt by the body, but here are some very simple tips that, when properly utilised, can help you burn calories with little to no effort at all.
The body requires between 7 and 9 hours of proper sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet environment. The longer you sleep, the longer the amount of REM sleep you’ll get and the more calories you’ll burn. Not getting enough sleep, however, will cause the body to be hungrier, resulting in the intake of more food and more calories instead of less. Similarly, oversleeping may also cause you to gain weight and reduce the number of calories spent or used up by the body. This is because when you oversleep, you’ll tend to spend less time active, and thus use less energy. Also, it is recommended to sleep nude, so that the temperature of the body is easily reduced and deep sleep will come better. Nude sleeping also helps to burn calories as the amount of energy needed to keep the body warm is also increased.
In most families, the largest meal of the day is eaten at night, and the lightest, in the morning. This is very harmful, as noted by sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus. This is because when we eat a large meal at night, the body does not have enough time to break it down and process it, and as such stores it as fat instead of breaking it down. This fat results in an increase in body size rather than a decrease, and a reduction in the number of calories burnt. Eating a light meal an hour before bed is recommended. Junk food and snacks should be totally avoided at night.
Frequent exercise of the body, which might include a regular walk up-and-down the stairs or jogging down the street is very beneficial to anyone who wants to burn calories, whether during the day or at night. This is because when a person does exercise regularly, such a person tends to sleep better and spend more time in REM sleep, losing calories. However, all forms of exercise should end at least four hours before bed, so that the core temperature of the body would have dropped considerably because a hot body will reduce sleep tendencies.
Wines and beers taste pleasantly with food and help to wash the food down our stomachs, but they should be taken at least three hours before bed so that they can be broken down and converted to glucose to be used as energy. This is because alcohol disturbs the body and hinders it from entering into REM sleep and burning calories. Caffeine should also be avoided near bedtime because even though it initially increases metabolism, it also makes it hard to enjoy good sleep.
While it is promising to burn out calories by exercising, it is also very essential to adapt to these other practices that would help enhance the rapid loss of calories and produce a safe and healthy life.
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