Fat vs calories
As a qualified personal trainer (nickname ‘gym-finn’), I’m often asked about what people should eat to be ‘healthy’. It’s a fairly broad question and after digging a little deeper, what people are really asking me is what’s the difference between fat and calories and which one should I look at when buying food?
Fat is an essential component in our diet and people shouldn’t be afraid to eat fats. There are of course good fats (usually unsaturated, oils found in nuts and avocados for example) and bad fats (saturated, like the fat on the side of a lamb chop) to consider in your diet, but one thing fats do have in common is that they are all typically high in calories.
Calories are measured by kcal (or kilocalories) which essentially tell you how much energy a specific food will give you. We all use energy every day to live and so need to eat a certain amount of calories to get out of bed in the morning and make it into work! However, when it comes to food consumption, there is a simple calorie equation that should guide your food choices to help you stay ‘healthy’:
- Total calories consumed < total calories burned = weight loss
- Total calories consumed = total calories burned = weight maintained
- Total calories consumed > total calories burned = weight gained
National guidelines suggest that an average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain weight and an average woman should consume around 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight. Of course these values vary depending on age and how active you are.
Managing your calorie intake is a simple and hugely effective way to control your weight and stay healthy, as long as you get your calories from a varied and healthy diet (so please don’t just eat seven Mars Bars a day!) I always recommend calorie control versus fat intake route to friends, family and colleagues because it allows you eat what you want, when you want and how you want!
I’ve included a few key food facts below to help you on your way:
- A green banana has fewer calories than a brown banana
- Jelly sweets may be low in fat, but they are high in calories, any calories you don’t use in a day get stored as fat
- Dried fruits are much more calorific than their fresh fruit equivalent
- Nuts are great for essential oils, but are high in calories, so watch how many handfuls you eat
- Drinks count as part of your daily calorie intake – fruit juices, tea, coffee and alcohol all carry hefty calories so be mindful about what you drink
- If you want a treat, but don’t want to blow your calories grab a Jaffa Cake or Fig Roll
- The best way to help control calorie intake is by managing your portion size – your body can function perfectly on a lot less than you think