It might just be a slice of bread, a tub of yoghurt or a small chocolate bar – but what’s in it and how does it actually impact your calorie intake for the day?
The amount of calories you need daily to maintain your current weight depends on your age, gender and activity levels. The average man between 30 and 50 years old needs around 2 600-3 000 calories per day, and the average woman of the same age needs around 2 000- 2 200 calories.
If you’re trying to lose weight, then the calories you consume during the day need to be less than the amount of energy you use during the day.
This is called a calorie deficit. You can create a deficit by cutting down on the amount of empty calories (like sugar) that you eat during the day.
This could be the can of coke you have with your lunch, or the packet of chips or chocolate you reach for in the afternoon. Replace these with a glass of water or tea and you should start losing weight fairly quickly.
If you’re serious about eating healthily, then you’ll also need to start taking notice of what’s in the food you eat. For example, you might think that low-fat yoghurt is a better option than regular yoghurt, but it’s not. Low-fat versions of food tend to have more added sugar – to make it taste better. And sugar-free foods often contain more fat – for the same reason. Ironic, really!
To help get you started on your “conscious food journey”, we thought we’d shed light on common foods that you probably eat every day (or fairly often). If you’re looking to lose weight, then they’re the things you should be cutting down on as they’re high in calories from fats and carbs.
One slice of whole-wheat bread – without any spread or filling – contains:
- Calories 128
- Fat 2.48g
- Carbs 23.64g
- Protein 3.86g
If you break it down, that works out to: 17% fat, 74% carbs and 9% protein.
A 100g tub of low-fat fruit yoghurt contains:
- Calories 64
- Fat 1.5g
- Carbs 10g
- Protein 2.8g
If you break it down, that works out to: 21% fat, 62% carbs and 17% protein, but you do get the added benefit of probiotics and calcium.
The average 100g dairy milk chocolate bar contains:
- Calories 535
- Fat 29.6g
- Carbs 59.4g
- Protein 7.65g
If you break it down, that works out to 50% fat, 44% carbs and 6% protein.
By keeping in mind how many calories your body needs each day, try and get this from lower calorie foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat and protein, and healthy carbs which are packed with nutrients – rather than high-calorie foods which contain mostly fat and sugar.