The 2000 calories a day myth
The world would be great without calories. Pizza sandwiches for long car journeys. Ice cream floats whenever you fancied. Salads served in bowls of bacon.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world - we live in a world where food does have calories, and, even more unfortunately - they count.
But how much, exactly, do they count? We’ve all heard of the ‘2,000 calorie rule’, but is it true? Should we aim for 2,000 calories a day, no matter our build, height, and athleticism?
The short answer is - no. Calorie counting isn’t as simple as all that. Everybody’s body is different: we’ve all got individual metabolic pathways, hormones and shapes - and as a result, the amount of calories we individually need is different, too.
So throw your ‘2,ooo calorie’ manual out the window and pay attention - because when it comes to calories, one size certainly doesn’t fit all.
Calories need to vary
The amount of calories you eat should generally be based on your age, gender, weight, height and activity. Put simply, a short and inactive elderly person won’t need as much food as a tall, young and active person.
So how do you figure it out? If you want an accurate calorie ballpark, try using a calorie calculator to help you figure out your personal stats and consider coupling your results with popular app My Fitness Pal, to help you keep tabs on what you’re consuming and reach your custom calorie goal every day.
All calories are different
Your diet shouldn’t rely solely on your calorie number - another reason why the ‘2,000 calories’ a day rule needs to be shirked.
The calories on a packet of food don’t reveal any light at all on the food’s nutritional benefit, which is a crucial consideration when trying to maintain a healthy diet.
If you were told an apple and a chocolate bar had the same amount of calories, which would you go for? Let’s face it - you’d be sorely tempted to pick the chocolate. But the chocolate wouldn’t give you any of the benefits of the apples: it wouldn’t detoxify your liver, boost your immune system or help your waistline in the way apples do.
Instead of only looking at the calorie number when choosing your next snack or meal, look at the amount of saturated fat and sugar levels, too - high levels of those are more likely to stop you from fitting in your jeans than big calorie digits.
Grab a date with a dietician
With so much to consider, the process of picking a diet that works best for you might seem a little complicated. But don’t throw in the towel just yet - help is out there, and it comes in the form of nutritionists and dieticians.
These calorie chieftains know the dieting game like the back of their hand, and are specially trained to understand and deal with individual body needs.
If you don’t understand yourself or what you need, now might be a good time to bring in an outsider who will: somebody who can construct a diet and lifestyle plan with you and teach you how to best treat your body.
Nutritionists and dieticians know food inside-out, and as a result can help change you from the inside-out, too.