The controversial subject of calories, their intake and striking a balance.
A simple equation is calories in v calories out equals whether you gain or lose weight. And no, this isn’t award winning science but….
What gets measured get managed is the old saying. The fashion of wearing tech or using apps on mobile phones that report on our steps, runs, cycle rides, sleep etc. means we are suddenly much more aware of how active, inactive or frankly, how fat we might be getting.
Generalising, the biggest contribution of calories to our diet is usually alcohol. So if you are worried about calories then put the glass of wine down. However, just going low alcohol doesn’t mean you will consume less calories. I was shocked to find that the quite palatable low-alcohol cider I had swapped to contained just as many calories, simply because the alcohol was reduced by the inclusion of apple juice in the drink.
So, if we want to eat and drink what we like we should consider expending these calories to remain in balance for intake and expenditure of calories?
Using the tech solution I calculated my personal distance for a range of beverages. Being a fairly average chap these will not be very different for anyone else.
Now I think of these as the distance I should have to travel to and from (walking) the coffee shop or pub. These are no great distances either and whilst putting some drinks into context, it doesn’t solve the problem of obesity. That is the point, no one thing will fix the obesity problem.
The Royal College of Physicians was recently advocating putting labels on foods to highlight how much exercise would be required to burn off the calories contained in the food or drink. Good idea? Well, maybe if it means us consumers all understand the relative impact of different foods. But, surely we need more information.
Nutrition, the clue is in the name, ought to be about what we SHOULD be consuming and less perhaps about what we should NOT be consuming? If we had an information system that delivers what nutrients we should seek every day from our food and show which foods are ‘nutrient dense’ we might automatically avoid the foods and drinks that do not contribute to our nutrient needs? This would mean the milky coffee with sugar or syrups in a coffee shop would score more highly than the alcoholic drink or zero sugar coke because litre for litre the milky drink has protein, fat, vitamins, etc that are in neither the coke or the alcoholic drink. Better still, the cheese that gets a red label normally because of its high fat content, is reappraised as a nutrient dense food thanks to the calcium, fats and protein.
The point is, the quality of the information should nudge people into a healthier diet.
So, how far would you go to choose the right foods for your diet?