I know that title sounds funny, but it’s actually true. Some people think that sweating more means they’re burning more calories. Others sweat that they have not burned enough calories during the day. Even worse, many think that calories are so important that they’ve forgotten we are humans and don’t operate on a bunch of calculated numbers.

So what is a calorie exactly? A calorie measures the amount of ENERGY in a food. You see how I called it energy! Because the three main components of calories are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. All three are made up of calories.

This takes me to the next stage in teaching you how to calculate each part. Lets start with protein: 1 gram of protein equals 4 calories. 1 gram of carbohydrates equals 4 calories. 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories. Easy, right? Yes, I think it’s pretty easy to figure out what we really need, once we understand how to calculate it all up.

Here is a basic formula that can be used by just about anyone: Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, eat 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight, eat 1 gram of healthy fats for every 4 pounds of body weight. And, most important of all, make sure you drink plenty of water, your body weight in pounds multiplied by 0.5 ounces per day is a good guide. Keep in mind that no two people are ever exactly alike, so this basic formula may not work for everyone. It’s just a good starting point for a healthy diet.

Now that we have gone through what calories are made of and a basic guide to eating them, you’re probably already setting yourself up to start reading every single label and engineering a meal plan with exact numbers and portions to help you reach a specific goal. I see so many people asking to have exact macros listed on each meal or who are looking at numbers and inputting them into apps that tell them if they’re going over on that day or if they should eat more.

I would like to tell everyone to just STOP the madness – our bodies don’t operate on a bunch of numbers written on the back of a box!

Yes, it’s critical to know approximate ranges and to make sure the food you are eating is nutritious, but it doesn’t have to be dialled into exact digits. It’s just not possible to even get that accurate with food. Food may contain X amount of calories on average, but one dish with the same portions as another can contain fewer calories, or more, depending on a bunch different factors.

Here’s an interesting one: an organic chicken breast will contain more protein and healthy nutrients than a factory-raised chicken breast. Quality matters, not just the quantity.

My suggestion is to understand what your body’s needs are and aim to reach them on a daily basis. But don’t sweat every little digit. Diets don’t work like that; our bodies don’t work like that.

One day you may be tired and your body will crave more calories. That’s because it needs more calories to operate. One day you may get a good night’s sleep and actually need less food. All of these little things are relevant.

I just wanted to give all of you great people a more clear understanding of what calories really are and to tell you not to sweat the calories!

And for the record, sweating more doesn’t mean your body is burning more calories… It just means your AC unit is working overtime because it’s a hot summer day.

Credits: Steele Roddick is a creative writer and fellow health enthusiast. You can read more of his work at thesteeleroddick.com