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Getting back to basics

Calories are fickle. We need them to energise us, to keep us feeling full, and of course to enjoy as part of a meal. If we dare to eat too many, then it becomes more difficult to manage our weight.

Calories and weight, what a relationship. So, here's a quick guide to help you understand what is what.

What is a calorie

Everything we do, from walking to work, washing our hair and even moving our fingers, requires energy. We get energy from food, from calories. So naturally, the more we move, the more energy and calories we need.

How to calculate calorie needs

BMR

This is the number of calories you need to maintain your weight, without taking your day to day activities into consideration. To calculate this you can use the following formula;

Women - 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 5 x age (yrs) - 161

Men - 10 x weight 9 (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 5 x age (yrs) + 5

So what if I'm on the move all day?

There's an activity factor which you can use to work out your total calorie needs each day, which you multiply your BMR by. So if you do little or no exercise, or have a desk job, you'll only need to multiply by 1.20. If you're very very active or have a physically demanding job, you would multiply your BMR by 1.9. We often over estimate our activity level so it's useful to be conservative when choosing which one suits your lifestyle best.

Are all calories the same?

Per gram, every food group is different. For example, per gram, fat provides 9 kcal, whereas carbohydrates and protein provide 4 kcal.

What's more, different calories do different things. If you eat 100g sugar-filled sweets, your blood sugar will increase, spike and crash. Not good. If you eat 100g protein, you'll stay fuller for longer and your body will have to work much harder to break down and digest everything.


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