BlubberBusters Tips from Lucy

The Calorie Capers

Many kids and teens on this site talk about calories. It seems like everyone has a different opinion when it comes to the role of the calorie with weight loss. Who's right? Who's wrong? Also, what is a calorie? Read the Calorie Capers to find out!

The Calorie

The calorie...also seen as "kcal" energy. The reason humans eat is to get more energy. Our bodies tell us we need energy when we feel hunger. Almost all food and drinks have energy to give our bodies. Many of them even show a number on the package to show how much energy it will give us. Some foods have little energy. Other foods give us lots. To find out how much our bodies need, read on.

Resting Calories

Everyone's body needs calories to live. Even if we laid in bed all day and never moved, we still would need calories to live. We would need calories because it takes energy to run the heart, liver, kidneys, brain, and stomach. Our Resting Calories are the amount of calories it takes to run our body without moving around. Since most people on this site move around, let's talk about the other calories we need everyday.

Activity Factor

Everyday we do millions of things. We get out of bed, take a shower, put on our clothes, eat breakfast, make our bed (sometimes), talk, pack our school bag...and that is only in the first hour of being awake! Every time we move, our body uses energy to allow us to do that. We may also exercise during the day. This takes energy too! All the calories our bodies need during the day add up to what dietitians call our "activity factor."

Calories & Weight Loss

To lose weight, a person needs to eat less energy (or calories!) than her or his body needs. This means eating less calories or increasing physical activity or both. Many kids and teens learn that cutting back on calories helps them lose weight. Some cut back so far that it hurts their weight loss instead of helps. This happens because they give themselves too little calories. It makes them very hungry and can make some kids and teens eat too much. So how much do you need? Read on for more.

Calories for Kids and Teens

Only your dietitian or doctor can determine how many calories you need to lose weight. Many websites have calculators to figure out calorie needs yet these calculators are for adults only. For a good place to start, here are some general calorie recommendations from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

Gender Age Barely Active* Fairly
Girls 4 to 8 1200 1400 to 1600 1400 to 1800
  9 to 13 1600 1600 to 2000 1800 to 2200
  14 to 18 1800 2000 2400
Boys 4 to 8 1400 1400 to 1600 1600 to 2000
  9 to 13 1800 1800 to 2200 2000 to 2600
  14 to 18 2200 2400 to 2800 2800 to 3000

*Barely Active = means moving very little everyday doing day to day activities
*Fairly Active = physical activity equal to about 25 to 60 minutes per day along with moving your body in day to day activities.
*Very Active = physical activity greater than 60 minutes per day along with moving your body in day to day activities.

Counting calories can be hard. Instead of counting calories, cutting in half what they usually eat helps many kids and teens to get to a healthy body weight. For others, eating only when they feel physical hunger and stopping when they are full helps them lose weight. These kids and teens work on not eating for emotional reasons instead of counting calories.

Make this a healthy week!

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Please ask your healthcare provider if these tips are right for you and please read our disclaimer.

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