Q: What are calories and how do they affect my weight?
A: In nutrition, a calorie is a unit that measures the energy-producing potential contained within the food we eat. These calories provide our body with the energy required to fulfill our everyday functions, such as: building muscle, cleansing ourselves and metabolism. When calories are burned, this energy is released through perspiration once oxidized by the body. However, when calories are not burned, they are stored as fat.
Q: Are fat-free and low-fat foods low in calories?
A: Not necessarily. Many fat-free or low-fat foods have increased sugar levels that push the calorie count up. Although it is likely that fat-free and low-fat food will have lower calorie levels than “regular” food, the difference can be negligible. To see the difference, see this Fat-Free Versus Regular Calorie Comparison.
To see how many calories you are consuming by checking the Nutrition Facts label. Be aware, however, that these facts only account for one serving while you may actually be consuming more. To learn more about Nutrition Facts labels and making healthier choices, read this Nutrition Facts: An Interactive Guide to Food Labels article from the Mayo Clinic.
Q: What factors, other than calorie intake, contribute to weight gain and obesity?
A: There are many factors that contribute to weight gain and obesity, such as: nutrition, exercise, environment, genetics, disease and drugs. To learn more about these other factors, read this Other Factors in Weight Gain by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).