Calorie-counting has long been a favoured method of weight loss among dieters.
And when we’re looking to watch our weight, health and food intake, many of us will attempt to cut down calories, or opt for so-called ‘low-calorie’ foods.
However, a new initiative launched by the British Nutrition Foundation has suggested that the quality of the calories is of equal importance to the amount of calories we’re putting in our bodies.
They stated that counting and cutting down calories is not enough in order to be healthy.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said of the new initiative to the BBC, “We clearly need to improve the nation’s diet but excess calories are the root cause of obesity – this is why we are working with the food industry to reduce sugar and calories in everyday foods.”
So the BNF’s Quality Calorie concept has been created to remind consumers that while sticking to the right number of calories per day is vital for weight management, eating the right type of calories is also key.
For example, the BNF suggests that in many cases, it may be worth opting for a food item with more calories – but calories which are higher-quality, and contain more of the vital vitamins and nutrients our body needs.
They suggest that while many might try and avoid high-calorie food options such as avocados, nuts and seeds (which all have a high nutritional value), these are actually a better option than a low-calorie food item which many not have as much nutritional benefit – such as a cereal bar or low-cal fizzy drink.
They also encouraged people to take a look at the food they usually eat, to see if they could swap it for a more ‘quality calorie’ option. For example, the British Nutrition Foundation suggested that swapping white toast with butter or jam for wholewheat toast with peanut butter could make for a far better nutritional option.
A creamy chicken korma could also be swapped for a tomato-based curry, while a cola drink could be ditched in favour of a glass of pure orange juice – a far better option nutritionally.
Empty calories, such as those gained from alcohol, should also ideally be avoided.
So how many calories should we actually be having per day? For women, Public Health England advise 2,000 per day – and 2,500 a day for men.
They suggests dividing them up equally, eating 400 calories at breakfast, 600 at lunch, and 600 at dinner.