We all need a healthy amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in order to maintain our health. If you are concerned about your weight or planning to lose weight you should also be aware of the types of food in your diet, particularly its fat and calorie content.
Calorie counts and fat
Calories are used to measure the amount of energy contained in your food and drink. If you are taking in more calories than your body can use, your body will store them in the form of fat cells.
Not all fats are bad for you. Fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K cannot be processed by your body without fat to process them.
Polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat are good for your body, helping to regulate and support essential lipoproteins in your body.
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Saturated fat which is found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, meat and dairy products are harder for your body to break down and can cause harm such as clogging your arteries.
Fats contain more than twice the amount of calories than protein and carbohydrates. Fat contains nine calories per gram whereas proteins and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram.
Food preparation and cooking
Your method of cooking can also effect the fat and add calories to your food. Cooking with batter or marinating your food before cooking will increase calorie count. Frying food will add the maximum amount of calories compared to other cooking methods. When frying food the cooking oil is absorbed into your food, adding to its fat content and calorie count.
When working out your food’s calories, you should also include calories contained in your marinades and cooking oils to get a more accurate calorie count.
Any cooking methods which allow fat and fluid to drip away, such as grilling or using a rack when roasting will reduce the fat content of your food. However the reduction in calories will depend on how lean or fat the meat was in the first place. Broiling and steaming are also healthy options as you are not adding any calories during the cooking process.
For example, 100g of uncooked chicken contains 114 calories; if this chicken is fried it will contain 187 calories. However if the same piece of chicken is stewed it will contain just 151 calories.
Water is also lost from food when cooking, which is why there is still a calorie increase even when no fats are added. This is something which you need to take into account when counting calories. Water adds weight to food so raw food will weigh more than cooked food, even though it contains the same number of calories. Therefore when you are checking the calorie count by weight, check whether it is for cooked or uncooked food.
Drying foods can also increase their calorie content when counting by weight. Dried fruit has more calories per gram than fresh fruit simply because dried fruit is lighter after having had the water removed.