calorie: noun: ˈkal(ə)rē/ We count them. We burn them. We fear them. We talk about them. But what exactly are these oh-se-evil calories that are in everything we eat and drink? A calorie is a unit of heat energy. And that heat energy is what fuels our body. So yes, contrary to popular belief – we do actually need calories! The human body needs calories (a.k.a. energy) to survive. Without energy we wouldn’t be able to move, our lungs wouldn’t work, and our heart wouldn’t beat. But not all calories are treated the same. Protein, fruits, veggies, and whole grains all contain calories that will provide long lasting energy. Empty calories coming from solid fats (animal fat, added sugars) will burn out faster and not provide energy. Eating an apple and peanut butter can be up to 400 calories, but will be more beneficial than two snickers bars racking up the same amount of calories. So exactly how much energy do we need? That depends on many factors that change with each person such as sex, height, weight, and activity level. Obviously Peyton Manning will need to consume more calories than your 5”2 roommate who sits on the couch all day. To see how many calories you need to stay alive, if you did not move all day, you can calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). Here is the equation for women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years ) If an average 25 year old is 5”5 and 130 lbs her BRM would be 1,336. Meaning with no activity daily, that is how many calories she would need just to survive. And considering all of us had to at least get up and walk to our computers, we are not completely inactive! Based on your activity level you multiply that number by anywhere from 1.2 -2.2 to see how much energy you need to consume every day. Moral of the Story: We need calories! Just choose the right ones! So stop thinking of calories as evil and look at the right ones as fuel for us to live and be active.