The Nutrient Series – ENERGY

Although energy isn’t technically a nutrient, it is absolutely essential for our bodies. It is used by our cells to carry out all the processes needed to keep us alive. It comes from four components (macronutrients) of our diet; carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol (obviously, this isn’t an essential or recommended source of energy). Energy is measured in either kilojoules (kJ) or kilocalories (kcal). You may be most familiar with using kcals when talking about how much energy a foodstuff provides. The four macronutrients provide different amounts of energy;

  • Carbohydrate – 3.75 kcals per g of food (often rounded up to 4kcal/g)
  • Protein – 4 kcals per g of food
  • Fat – 9 kcals per g of food
  • Alcohol – 7 kcals per g of food

Throughout our lives, we have varying energy needs. Children’s and teenagers’ energy needs change as they grow, as growth and development requires energy. Adults doing a lot of exercise or those very unwell can often require more energy than the average adult. Each of our individual energy needs will be different, and can be estimated by a dietitian or other health care professional. They would take height, weight, age, gender and activity status into account. It is also worth mentioning that if you are trying to gain weight you need to eat more than this, and to lose weight you should eat less. The BDA recommends that for 1lb weight loss per week (which is the healthy guideline) you should cut your daily calorie intake by 500 kcals per day.

For a guideline, estimated average requirements (EAR) have been issued for use by the general population. The values below are for healthy adults aged between 19-59 years;

  EAR (kcal/day)
Men
19-49 years 2,550
50-59 years 2,550
Women
19-49 years 1,940
50-59 years 1,900

Based on DRVs, DoH

It can sometimes be useful to equate these guidelines to actual amounts of food, so I have given example days below for adult men and women. Obviously, this is just a sample day, to illustrate an average adult’s daily energy recommendation.

Male – roughly 2,550 kcals/day

Breakfast

45g Bran flakes

80g strawberries

1 sliced banana

125ml semi-skimmed milk

150ml orange juice

Total = 366 kcals

150

24

80

58

54

Mid-morning

30g mixed nuts

1 apple

Costa medium flat white coffee (semi-skimmed milk)

Total = 307 kcals

174

45

88

Lunch

Egg mayonnaise sandwich (white bread)

80g cherry tomatoes

3 or 4 dried apricots (40g)

Cereal bar

Total = 715 kcals

415

20

180

100

Mid-afternoon

Fruit yoghurt (roughly 125ml)

Cup of tea with semi-skimmed milk

Total = 110 kcals

100

10

Dinner

Spaghetti bolognaise (roughly 400g)

Side serving of 80g sweetcorn

& 80g broccoli

100g Apple crumble with 120ml custard

Total = 1047 kcals

604

63

30

350

Total 2545 kcals

 

Female – roughly 1,900 kcals/day

Breakfast

40g Bran flakes

80g strawberries

1 sliced banana

125ml semi-skimmed milk

150ml orange juice

Total = 351 kcals

135

24

80

58

54

Mid-morning

25g mixed nuts

1 apple

Costa medium flat white coffee (semi-skimmed milk)

Total = 278 kcals

145

45

88

Lunch

Egg mayonnaise sandwich (white bread)

80g cherry tomatoes

Cereal bar

Total = 535 kcals

415

20

100

Mid-afternoon

Cup of tea with semi-skimmed milk

Total = 10 kcals

10

Dinner

Spaghetti bolognaise (roughly 300g)

Side serving of 80g sweetcorn

& 80g broccoli

80g Apple crumble with 100ml custard

Total = 816 kcals

453

63

30

270

Total 1990 kcals

 

Sources

BDA Food Facts – Weight loss – https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/Want2LoseWeight.pdf

Costa Coffee Nutritional Info – http://www.costa.co.uk/nutrition/nutrition-data-sept-2016.pdf

Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom, DoH, 1991

McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods, 2015 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

 

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