Calories (cal or sometimes kcal) are a unit of energy measurement. With this unit, you can say how high the physiological caloric value of a food is, i.e., how much energy it can supply to your body. Furthermore, calories can indicate how much energy you consume during various activities. Your body gets energy from macronutrients. These mainly include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins and carbohydrates give your body about four calories per gram. On the other hand, fats provide you with about nine calories per gram. Alcohol, which is also technically a macronutrient, gives about seven calories per gram.
Knowing how much energy you are supplying your body with and how much energy you are consuming is extremely important as an athlete. You may need to adjust your calories depending on how you define your body or athletic goals.
If you want to gain weight, you should supply your body with more calories than it consumes. This is called a caloric surplus. You can build muscle with strength training and the right macronutrient distribution.
If you want to maintain your current weight, your calorie intake and expenditure should be about the same (input equals output).
To lose weight, you should burn more calories than you supply to your body. This is called a calorie deficit. Combined with strength training and the right macronutrient distribution, you can lose fat and maintain your muscles or, in exceptional cases, build muscle simultaneously. However, for natural athletes, you can usually only do this if you are a beginner, if you have been away from the gym for a long time, or if you currently have a high level of body fat.
To lose 1 pound of fat, you need a calorie deficit of about 3500 calories. So, for example, if you want to lose a pound of fat in a week, you need an average daily calorie deficit of 500 calories.
Your calorie needs depend on many different factors. These include your age, sex, and height. How active you are in your daily life or how active you are in sports also influences your calorie needs. Therefore, the need for calories is very individual and cannot be generalized. For this reason, you should have your calories calculated and make adjustments if necessary.
You can calculate your calorie needs with our calorie calculator.