In the photo below I have created 3 samples of what someone might eat through a day. They may represent some average type meals/foods that you may have and provide an idea of how the numbers can add up and what some simple changes can do to the overall calorie intake. The latte (no sugar), apple, 4 squares of chocolate and 1x medium red wine stay constant thorough the 3 options.
Number 1- 2229cals
I wrote this as a typical day's food that required a little less food preparation. As you may notice, the meals are pretty easy to make. Breakfast is basically boxed cereal with some fruit and yoghurt, lunch is a sandwich, and dinner is pasta. So simple to make, very little time and effort required. This results in a higher carbohydrate intake with limited fresh vegetables, and due to that the numbers add up quicker. These foods may also leave you feeling hungry earlier due to higher carbohydrates, lower fresh vegetables and low protein and fat in each meal.
Option 2- 1674cals
This is another possible typical day but including more fresh vegetables. This will require a little more time preparing meals. breakfast of 2x eggs and avocado on toast. Good fats, some protein, and a little carbohydrate. A great start for the day. Lunch is a large chicken salad with loads of fresh leafy greens. You will feel full after this, gain loads of vitamins and minerals and fibre. Dinner is similar with some great fresh vegetables and protein. The protein can be replaced with vegetarian options like legumes and beans. This option requires more food preparation and planning but gives way more nutrients for immune function and daily energy, and it comes at a low cost.
Option 3- 2810cals
This one represents a weekend, maybe letting it all go and just having at it. A cooked breakfast at a cafe or home. At lunch you might just grab a pie and coke while doing something. Dinner is pizza and garlic bread, maybe while watching the TV. The result is a whopping 2810cals, and that's only accounting for 1x glass of wine and no sugar in the coffee. So you can see how things add up very quickly. Now combine that with limited physical activity.
So, what does this mean?
What do the calories mean for me?
Let's, look at two examples of daily calorie needs for an average woman and man.
1. A female 50yo, 170cm, 70kg
Sedentary (little to no exercise) - 1622cals
Light active (1-3x Exercise/week) - 1858cals
Moderate active (3-5x Exercise/week) - 2095cals
2. A male 50yo, 180cm, 80kg
Sedentary (little to no exercise) - 2016cals
Light active (1-3x Exercise/week) - 2310cals
Moderate active (3-5x Exercise/week)- 2604cals
These numbers are to maintain weight.
In order to lose weight, you must subtract 500cals for 1/2kg weight loss per week, or 1000cals for 1kg weight loss per week. This brings the numbers down pretty quick, and you can now see how frugal you need to be with the calorie intake if your goal is to lose weight.
You can see how quickly the numbers add up and may contribute to either maintaining or gaining weight. I don't think the 3 options are all that calorie dense compared to what people may be consuming on average. I've come across some things that were surprising to myself and the people I spoke to, that drastically blow the numbers out.
1 cup of tea with 2x tsp sugar and 20ml milk = 60cals
2 cups- 120cals
3 cups- 180cals
4 cups- 240cals
.... they add up over the day!!
Medium latte with milk and 2x sugars= 214cals
2 cups- 428cals
3 cups- 642 cals
Toasted muesli 75g, cup milk, tsp honey, 50g greek yoghurt, small banana= 614 cals
Oats 100g, cup milk, tsp honey, 1/4 cup blue berries, 1/2 small banana= 622 cals
Breakfast smoothie of 250ml milk, 3 eggs, 3 bananas, protein powder, 1/2 punnet blue berries- 950cals!
6 cups tea and 4 cups coffee all with sugar= 1216cals
Coopers Pale Ale (stubbie)- 130cals. 6x beers = 780cals
14% Red wine 750ml bottle- 588cals Simply divide this by the number of glasses you get from a bottle. 4=147cals / 6=98cals
What do I do from here?
Read my other blog- Counting calories is like doing a budget check