Calories are units of energy, contained within food, and used by the human body to maintain daily health and life. Calories are associated with energy that is contained in protein, carbohydrates and fat. Within each of these measures, calories will have a given amount of energy available. Different foods will provide different amounts of calories. In addition to this, the other nutrients needed for the human body will also differ according to the foods being eaten.
The human body will burn calories in order to remain healthy and balanced. This is by the metabolism moving calories through your body. Your metabolism may also turn calories into proteins or amino acids if the body needs it. These calories then move into the bloodstream and turn into cells or become stored energy. The energy your body needs in order to stay healthy and alive is directly related to the number of calories you intake (eat). The inverse is also true, too many calories consumed can lead to weight problems and poor health.
You can determine how many calories you need through a variety of factors. Every individual will differ depending on what their body needs to stay balanced. There are several ways that you can find out how many calories you need each day. This can also help in determining the types of foods that you need to eat. These can then be balanced with the nutrients that your body needs, such as vitamins and minerals. These can provide an extra boost for your energy burning needs.
Recommended Daily Allowance (Calories)
Men (Age 30, 150 lbs 5' 9")
2400 (sendentary) - 2600 (low activity) - 2900 (active) - 3400 (very active)
Women (Age 30, 125 lbs, 5' 5")
1900 (sendentary) - 2100 (low activity) - 2300 (active) - 2600 (very active)
Children (Age 13, 100 lbs, 5')
2100 (sendentary) - 2300 (low activity) - 2500 (active) - 2900 (very active)
For high-energy activities, your body can burn twice the number of calories (or more) than what is needed at rest. Intensive activities will require more calories, while sedentary activities will require less. Please keep this in mind. Most people buy far fewer calories than they really need and utterly fail to take into account any intense activity where calories will be burned much faster.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is not a measure of calories. The RDA is the recommendation of essential vitamins and minerals. The RDA is defined as "the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (approximately 98 percent) healthy individuals". This amount will vary however, according to your age and level of activity.
Unfortunately we have witnessed a great many scams arise within this industry over the years. Chiefly among these is that many so-called 'food storage plans' are significantly lacking the number of calories required in order for you to stay healthy. Some are so bad that it is no joke when we call some of these units "Starvation plans". What this means is that you would actually eat the food contained within the plan considerably faster then it was claimed to last. This also means that these plans are not the 'good deal' that they appeared to be. We have found that many will not last even a 1/4 of the time they are advertised -- see our Price Comparison page for some examples. This makes these units incredibly expensive -- in fact, in some cases you would need 3 or 4 of them instead of the advertised 1 to stay healthy for the amount of allotted time they are supposed to last.
Insufficient calorie intake can lead to poor nutrition, low energy levels, and poor health. These can dramatically impair your ability to fight off disease, infection, perform work or even conduct your affairs safely.
Competition for food will be one of the most misunderstood 'events' of all. History shows that food is the #1 priority for all civilizations and society. We take this for granted at our own peril. Food is the dividing line between comfort and safety and all-out chaos.
Also see the Livestrong article, "Why Are Calories Important?"