What Are Calories?
Calories (kcal) are a measure of the amount of energy in our foods and drinks.
Energy is used by the body to fuel movement, as well as simple body functions such as growing, thinking and breathing.
How Many Calories Do I Need?
On average men need around 2500 kcal and women need around 2000 kcal a day.
Our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) accounts for 75% of our energy needs and is the amount of energy our body needs to keep us alive at total rest. This varies from person to person depending on their age, gender and height. The remaining 25% is the energy we need to fuel movement. The more activity we do, the more energy we need to fuel us!
Where Do Calories Come From?
Calories are provided by the foods and drinks we consume and the amount they supply depends on how much fat, carbohydrate, protein, fibre or alcohol they contain. Each contains a different amount of calories per gram. Fat and alcohol contain more calories per gram (almost double) than any other nutrient which is why eating a diet containing high fat or alcohol can lead to weight gain.
Are Calories Important?
Although your weight is influenced by many things including your genes, generally consuming more calories than your body needs will lead your body to store the excess as body fat, which over time, can lead to weight gain. Many people in the UK consume at least an extra 200-300 more calories per day which is contributing to rising levels of obesity. Around two thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
Where Can I Find Calories Information?
You can find the calorie information on labels of prepacked foods and drinks and from April 6th 2022, as part of the government's obesity strategy, you will also see calorie information on menus and food ordering apps when you are eating out of home (food businesses with over 250 employees in England.
Should I Count Calories?
Although calories are a useful guide and can empower you to make informed decisions, on their own they do not tell you about the nutritional quality of the food or drinks you are consuming. The quality of the calories we eat is important so remember to try and choose a balanced diet packed full of nutritious foods which provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.