Calories and Counting Them

Hello and welcome to the blog, the first post with actual content in which is going to be everything you need to know about calories.

Calories is one of the biggest talked about topics within nutrition. They are how the energy in food or drink is measured and is often labelled as kcal. All packaged food should state the calories of the item either on the front or the back or in small print somewhere. Calories in food are a very accurate guide on how much food you should be eating and can have an impact on your body weight and energy levels. As an average the government recommends 2,500 calories for men and 2,000 calories for women however this is a very rough guide dependent on a lot of different conditions. To go further into this to be more accurate about how many calories you require, you will need to find the right energy balance. For those who don’t know energy balance is an equal balance between calories in and calories out.

Calories in is simply the food that you consume through food and drink and calories out is those calories that you burn throughout the day. To work out your energy balance first you must work out your calorie expenditure. This can be done using this calculation.

Men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
Women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161

I completed mine as a guide below:

Male – 10 x 60  +  6.25 x 185  – 5 x 19 + 5 = 1,656 calories

The number that you now have is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and is the number of calories that you use at rest. So, for example if you were ill and laid up in bed all day you would use the number of calories stated in your basal metabolic rate

After calories you need to look at your physical activity levels, this will determine how many more calories you burn through everyday activities. With your basal metabolic rate you then multiply this by the most appropriate number displayed below:

Sedentary (non-active all day) = 1.2

Lightly Active (little exercise around a non-active job) = 1.375
Moderately Active (active in and out of work 30+ mins) = 1.55
Very Active (active at work and out of work 2+ hours) = 1.725
Extremely Active (athletes) = 1.9

So again to help you guys understand a bit better I have used my expenditure as an example:

1,656 (BMR)  x  1.375 = 2,277 calories

The number that you now have is what’s called energy expenditure and as stated earlier in the post, energy expenditure and energy intake must be equal to achieve energy balance. This means that for me to maintain my current weight I would have to consume around 2,277 calories.

As a general rule you should consume around 500 calories more than your expenditure if you would like to gain weight and consume around 500 calories less if you want to lose weight. There is however no ‘one size fits all’ around this rule because it is very much dependent on other factors such as age, gender and metabolism. If you find that after a few weeks of sticking to around 500 calories more or less and you’re not seeing any results, then don’t be afraid to increase or decrease the number of calories consumed.

Counting calories can be time consuming however it is rewarding and affective if you want to achieve your goals! Some people choose to count calories by simply writing down the calories that they consume within the day from food labels. This is okay but takes quite a while to do and some items aren’t actually labelled, for example a loose kiwi fruit from the local supermarket doesn’t have its nutritional values brandished on it. The other method that can be used to count calories is through apps and websites that will do this for you simply through scanning the item or through searching the item on their huge database. Some apps will charge for this service however some won’t, here are my top 3 apps that you can use to count your calories:

1 . MyFitnessPal – This is the app I would recommend the most and I personally use this to count my calories, it is completely free has a huge database to search through and even has a scanning feature to allow you to scan barcodes. It also allows you to log your exercise and show how this affects your calorie targets.

2. Calorie counter + – I have also used this and found it incredibly useful for the first week until they then asked me to upgrade for a cost of £3.99 per month which isn’t too expensive. This app also breaks down your food into carbohydrate, fat and protein content. Calorie counter + has a huge database for you to search though and also a barcode feature similar to MyFitnessPal.

3. Lose it! – This is not an app I personally use but one that is very well known. This app allows you to set your goals, track your calories through barcode scanning and browsing through their database. This aim is obviously mainly aimed at losing weight and allows you access to customized recipes and support groups which is something the other two apps don’t have. The yearly subscription is around £70.99 that you will get charged at the end of the year, if you have the basic version then you will not have access to as many features so it’s up to you as to whether you think it’s worth the money.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the first blog post on calorie counting

Brad x

Published by eyeopeningnutrition

Hello and welcome to the first blog post, I am currently a second year Sport and Exercise Science (BSc) student at Nottingham Trent University. A particular part of my course that I am interested in is nutrition not just in a sporting context but also within the wider community and how everyone can improve their diet and wellbeing. My aim is that you guys will read my blog and find something new out that you perhaps didn’t know before (hence the name). I hope that I can use things that I have learnt whilst studying and some up to date research to allow you guys to take something away from my blog some useful information about current topics and everyday issues that we face. I plan on uploading a blog per week, subscribe for weekly updates!! I look forward to any feedback you guys may have!! Brad x

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